EDI­TOR’S LET­TER

Men's Health (UK) - - In This Issue - TOBY WISEMAN BSME EDI­TOR OF THE YEAR

What is a gym? When I started out at Men’s Health in 2005, it meant one of two things. The first was a spit-and-saw­dust tem­ple to box­ing or heavy lift­ing, in­vari­ably lo­cated un­der a rail­way arch, where ad­mis­sion was granted with a grunt and a gri­mace. The other was a softer, more sani­tised af­fair in the form of a Fit­ness First or Holmes Place: an up­date on the com­mu­nity leisure cen­tre of old, where a free, logo-em­broi­dered ruck­sack was the du­bi­ous badge of mem­ber­ship. Hav­ing al­ways been more of a run­ner and a team-sporter, I didn’t re­ally feel at home in ei­ther. Be­sides, I pre­ferred my own bag.

Nowa­days, the health and fit­ness land­scape is a more in­vig­o­rat­ing and demo­cratic vista. From bou­tique fit­ness em­po­ri­ums that more closely re­sem­ble lux­ury ho­tel spas, to out­door spa­ces that sub­sti­tute trac­tor wheels for dumb­bells, to car­dio stu­dios with the am­bi­ence of salu­bri­ous night­clubs, to Crossfit boxes redo­lent with the salty odour of chalk and sweat, there are now count­less ways to train your body and test your lim­its. In the process, gains have be­come big busi­ness. A re­cent Min­tel re­port cal­cu­lated that the UK health and fit­ness mar­ket is now worth £3.2bn, hav­ing grown 20% be­tween 2015 and 2018. That’s a lot of crunches.

As a re­sult, it’s no longer enough for us sim­ply to show you how to train; also im­por­tant are where to train and to what end. For the plod­ding keep-fit­ters and old-school lifters, there are still the same old des­ti­na­tions, un­changed by trends or cap­i­tal in­vest­ment. But now there’s also a whole new genre of class-based fit­ness out­fits, de­signed to func­tion as so­cial hubs as much as rooms for im­prove­ment. Mean­while, the ex­plo­sion of func­tional fit­ness spa­ces re­flects a chang­ing at­ti­tude in the way peo­ple want to ex­er­cise, and their ob­jec­tives for do­ing so. Build­ing mus­cle is now seen as the pur­suit of a body that is fit for pur­pose, rather than sim­ply a mat­ter of look­ing hench in a shrink-wrapped T-shirt. All of these things are un­de­ni­ably pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ments.

This month, we launch the in­au­gu­ral Men’s Health Gym Awards: a cel­e­bra­tion of this flour­ish­ing UK fit­ness scene. We’ve cho­sen venues that we think re­flect the best and the unique. You may be fa­mil­iar with our se­lec­tions; you may be an­gry at our omissions. That’s OK, be­cause it shows there’s healthy com­pe­ti­tion. Ei­ther way, we’d love to know what you think. And if we’ve over­looked any wor­thy con­tenders, we want to hear about them. There’s al­ways 2019. #Mhbest­gyms

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