Looking Good? Feeling Great? We uncover the truth behind gym perceptions and what the public are truly thinking.


44% admitted their body confidence prevented them from exercising

If you’ve not attended a gym for a while you may be unaware of the shift that has taken place in recent years. Gyms are now much more than a place to lose weight and get fit, they have become the focus of social activity for increasing numbers of people.

84% of gym-goers confessed to taking selfies while at the gym and over 1/3 (37%) of gym-lovers wouldn’t hesitate to share their gym progress on social media.

The growth of social media, particularly Instagram, has led to Gym-goers becoming increasingly image-conscious. This has seen a rise in exclusive fitness clubs and gym clothing brands like Gymshark who have capitalised on this to make huge profits – the UK health and fitness market is estimated to reach 22.8 billion British pounds by 2020.

40% of respondents own specified gym gear and perceive them as ‘cool’. 34% of gym-goers admitted to always buying new gym gear.

To gain a further understanding of these recent changes we surveyed the UK’s gym goers and the results were illuminating….


of respondents consider gym accessories to be cool


of gym goers consistently buy new gym gear


do not train with their partner at the gym

Watching the Mirror

‘I spend so much time in the gym that I treat it as I would any other social occasion. Right now, I'm really into pastels and pale printed leggings.’Sarah Harradine from thatsquatbot.

Over half of gym-goers (54%) work out in front of a mirror.

It’s not just young people that have been stricken by vanity -

60% of over 35’s want to look their best whilst working out.


  • - 55% of women said Yes

  • - 60% of 35-44-year olds said Yes

  • - 71% in the Midlands said Yes

It seems that the way we look is an important part of gym-life for an increasing number of people.

Throughout varying age groups and regions of the UK it was not uncommon for more than half of respondents to state the importance.

Rise of the Workout Icon

Like every cultural phenomenon, fitness has an emerging set of icons who loom large over the social media landscape. Over half of 18-24-year-old respondents we surveyed had a ‘Gym-Style Icon’

"David Laid and the other Gymshark athletes are an inspiration to a new generation of men and women"Jenny, 21 from London

Dom Mazzetti

668k Insta Followers

Kayla Itsines

10.7m Insta Followers

Grace Fit

944k Insta Followers

David Laid

1.1m Insta Followers

Heidi Summers

1.7 F英斯达ollowers

Hannah Fallis Bronfman

4k Insta Followers

The Social Media Age

We didn’t have to look too far to discover people’s motivation for wanting to look good at the gym…

  • - 84% of respondents take selfies after a workout

  • - 37% post progress updates on their social media profile

Counting Calories and Cashing Cheques

  • - £140 a Month - Third Space Gym Membership in London

  • - £350 a Month - E by Equinox

  • - £5BN - Market Value of UK Gym Industry expected to reach

  • - 33BN - Americans spent on Gym Equipment last year

Self-image Concerns

Amongst the relentless striving and posturing, there is a more concerning element for the new generation of image-conscious gym goers:

  • - 20% claimed they felt self-conscious about sweating during a workout

  • - 44% of respondents said that their body image had prevented them from attending a gym

  • - 53%- this number was higher amongst female respondents

  • - 32%- a substantial amount of men shared the same anxieties

Love and Protein

1 in 10 of the survey participants have dated someone they met at the gym.

Do you train with your partner?

  • - Yes: 28%

  • - No: 72%

Fitness Goal

It’s not unusual for fitness enthusiasts to join the gym to lose weight, build muscle mass and stay healthy.

Older age groups tend to join the gym to maintain a healthier lifestyle, this has become their primary goal according to 67% of the over 45’s.

Whereas, 30% of Millennials’ main fitness goal is to lose weight, and 40% of 18-24-year olds see increased muscle mass and improved strength as their primary objective when joining a gym.

“I have a friend who trains in full make-up and she looks fab. I've just started having my brows and lashes dyed so I can feel more confident in the gym (... at 6 am!) without having to wear make-up.”