The Gym Group's History

The Gym Group’s History

The Gym Group was founded by John Treharne, a former England squash player, in 2008. Perhaps that’s why we’re so focused on proper health and fitness benefits, and less on the luxuries that a small percentage of traditional health club members want.

John has a long and successful history in the gym business. He opened his first health club chain, Dragons Health Clubs, in 1991, building the business to a total of 22 clubs. He floated the company in 1997, and in 2000 he and his investors sold it on. He then spent time lending his expertise to premium gym chain Esporta, before concentrating on the launch of The Gym Group.


Our first Gym opened in Hounslow in 2008. It was a roaring success, and was swiftly followed by Guildford and Vauxhall. Within the first three years we’d opened 20 Gyms and we've never looked back. We’re ambitious, driven and committed to our members. We’ve received flattering – but we think deserving – accolades from our peers, the press, and most importantly, our members. But we’re not complacent – we’ve got long-term plans for expansion and continued innovation to ensure that we lead the UK’s budget gym growth.
The Gym Group has been funded and supported, since inception in 2008, by Bridges Ventures who have committed £17.5 million to the business. Bridges has £275 million under management and has a 10 year proven track record in investing successfully to achieve social and environmental goals as well as delivering substantial financial returns. A recent example typical of the Bridges Ventures’ approach is the The Hoxton, a hotel that redefined its market segment, invested in at concept stage, and delivered returns in excess of 40%.


In August 2012 The Gym Group was awarded the prestigious Investors in People accreditation on its first attempt. The Gym is the only group operator within the health and fitness sector to be accredited and that shows that how much we really care about and look after our people, providing them with a better working life.

In December 2012 The Gym Group was officially recognised as one of the fastest growing companies in the UK in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 - ranked no. 13 in the prestigious publication. The Gym Group is the only representative from the low cost health and fitness sector to have achieved this accolade.

John Treharne said:
"We are delighted to have received such recognition. To be in the top 20 of the fastest growing companies in the UK is quite some achievement and is testament to the hard work and efforts of everyone at The Gym Group."
"We have a very strong foundation and platform, a market-leading business and a focussed strategy from which to take the business forward and to build on our success to date. We have exciting plans for the future and a receptive market place to grow into… we plan to double again in the next couple of years."

Following an in-depth assessment, the Investors in People report recognised The Gym Group as an ‘extraordinary company’ and a ‘great place to work’. It was also praised for making continuous efforts to improve people management as well as taking further strides to reward staff and recognise achievement, such as awarding company shares to all those on the payroll. Commenting on this milestone achievement, John Treharne, CEO, said:

“We’re extremely proud to have been awarded this top accolade by Investors in People. Having founded the company in 2007, The Gym Group is a company with a low-cost and exciting business model that works for the general public and staff, whether directly employed or self-employed personal trainers. Celebration, reward and recognition continue to play an important part of life within our company and we will continue to invest in our staff.”

“We were praised for our well-balanced approach as the business continues to grow and evolve, the focus on customer service in our gyms and how we celebrate our successes. This is an excellent achievement for The Gym Group and is testament to the hard work, continued enthusiasm and commitment from all our employees.”


In March 2013 The Gym Group achieved 15th place in the prestigious The Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies to Work For list, the UK’s most extensive research into employee engagement, which honours the 100 Best Small Companies to Work For.  Most notably, The Gym Group achieved the top Three Star Accreditation standard, declaring the company an ‘extraordinary’ employer.

John Treharne said:
“We are particularly pleased and proud with our inclusion and position in this highly regarded survey. We work tirelessly to ensure that The Gym Group is a satisfying and rewarding place to work. It is part of our ethos to have our employees engaged, enjoying their work and striving for the best results for our customers. In turn, our employees and experienced management team have grown the business to its current network of high quality sites and market leadership in the low cost health and fitness market. We are delighted that the success of our employees has been recognised in this way.”


In November 2015, The Gym Group successfully completed its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the main market of the London Stock Exchange, making it the first European gym operator to float in more than a decade. The company raised £125 million from new investors which has been used to support the continuation of the company’s aggressive growth strategy. In May 2016, The Gym Group claimed another fitness industry first after attaining Gold status from Investors in People, joining the top seven per cent of accredited organisations across the UK.

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