A Fit Opportunity for a Healthier Future

The government's healthy living campaign is crystalising attention on the need of the nation to improve its lifestyle. Shapeup &'Go is positioned to provide an ideal solution to a large and growing segment of the population...mature women

Not only are we out of shape, but our economy is sagging too. We packed on the pounds by forgetting to exercise and we undermined our growth by forgetting good sense. The incidence of heart disease is ballooning as our economy deflates, the aftermath of a near-fatal heart attack. These phenomena are related, and so is their solution.

The growing obesity epidemic, like the financial crisis, is the result of a neglect of basic principles. To remain fit, we need to eat well and stay active. To enjoy sustainable growth, we need to invest wisely and borrow carefully. To repair the damage, we must return to fundamentals - as individuals and as a nation.

Shapeup & Go is part of the solution. Designed from the ground up to meet the needs of the mature woman, Shapeup & Go facilitates activity for those most underserved by the fitness industry and most at risk from the effects of inactivity. A ladies-only studio staffed by friendly and helpful female staff, Shapeup & Go provides all the guidance its members require in a safe, secure and non-competitive atmosphere. A discreet exercise area set on plush carpets and a pleasant coffee lounge offers the comforts of home in a social setting. Perhaps most importantly, a full array of state-of-the-art power-assisted machinery makes every exercise highly efficient, customisable and easy on the joints.

This is not a speculative investment. In 2007 the average age of Britain's population was 39, up from 37 in 1997, and 34 in 1987. A whopping 52 per cent of the British population are 40 or older as the 'bulge' of the 'baby boomers' of the 1960s mature. For the first time in recorded history, pensioners outnumber children - a condition that's expected to last for at least the next 20 years.

Meanwhile, obesity has increased markedly in the UK since the mid 1990s, with the most important rate (almost one in five) seen in women. Experts have found no evidence linking the phenomenon with increased caloric or fat intake. In fact, women today consume marginally less today than they did 20 years ago. The culprit is sitting in our driveways. We make most journeys - no matter how short - by car. Add this to the sedentary nature of most jobs and you can understand the concern that a wave of obesity may grow into a tsunami.

Experts have warned that by 2050, 90 per cent of today's children will be overweight or obese. These worrying statistics have prodded the government to launch a healthy living campaign of unprecedented scale. Targeted at every segment of the population, the programme aims to increase the volume and frequency a simple message which already fills our media: eat well and stay active. Measures may well include the provision of vouchers for gyms as an incentive to exercise.

Up to now, many mature women were put off by gyms - including ladies-only gyms - because of their competitive atmosphere and aggressive equipment. Industry statistics point to a massive, underexploited market. Invented to meet the needs of this segment, Shapeup & Go studios have not only proven their ability to attract mature women, but to win their loyalty. Shapeup & Go boasts one of the highest retention rates in the fitness industry.

A large, quantifiable market; a concept expertly tailored to meet the needs of that market; a concept proven in practice; long-term demographics favourable to the success of the business - built on strong fundamentals, Shapeup & Go is a sound and profitable business for a smarter, healthier future. This is the type of opportunity that will not only help improve our fitness, but our economy. A return to fundamentals will do all of us some good.

Reported by Josh Scherzer