Fitness and Sport for Expats in the United Kingdom

Submitted: September 2013

Sports play a prominent role in the life of Britons and serves as an important outlet for patriotism. As such, many people make a great deal of emotional and physical investment in their favourite sporting activities, whether it’s participating or spectating. This is complemented by the continually expanding fitness industry in the UK which boast various fitness centres and industries throughout the nation. Whether you prefer cheering on your favourite teams, playing a sport during your leisure time or working up a sweat at the gym, you are almost guaranteed to find a fitness or sporting activity which will be pleasing to you.

Most people in the UK enjoy playing some kind of sport as there are many options made available, some of which have even originated locally. These include: association football, rugby (union and league), cricket, golf, tennis, badminton, squash, rounders, hockey, boxing snooker, billiards and curling. In addition to these, the UK has played a pivotal role in the development of many sporting activities such as sailing and formula one racing. You should note that England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales each have separate sport governing bodies, national teams and domestic leagues and competitions. As a result, for many major sporting events with the exception of the Olympics, events are not contested by the Great Britain, but by separate ‘home nations’.

The popularity of each sport in the UK varies based on country. With the exception of Wales, in which rugby union is generally regarded as the national sport, football is the most popular sport. Alongside these, cricket is highly popular in England, but less popular in other home nations. Many individual sports enjoy major popularity in the UK such as athletics, golf, motorsport and horseracing. Tennis is a high profile sport which enjoys popularity within the weeks of Wimbledon Championships, especially given the recent victory of Andy Murray. Many other sports are played and followed but generally to a lesser degree.

For a list of upcoming sporting events and more information about sport in the UK, the UK Sport government website may prove useful.

If you are considering enrolment at a fitness centre in the UK, selecting the one which best suits you may not be an easy task as there are numerous options available. Opinions of best gyms widely vary, with many being equipped with state-of-the-art facilities which include climbing walls, indoor golf and swimming pools. Popular gym chains in the UK include but not limited to: LA Fitness, Fitness First and Gym World. Before opting for membership, you should try to visit the gym and observe its facilities particularly at peak hours and when you are most likely to visit, and enquire about terms of membership, especially with regards to injury, instead of completely trusting promotional leaflets. The cost gym membership varies depending on several factors, with some exclusive gyms costing as much as £ 4,000 for their all-inclusive membership options.

For fitness centres (gyms), sports facilities and in some cases sporting clubs which are in your area, you can consider the following resources: NHS Choices or the Sports & Fitness Finder (England), Sport Scotland (Scotland), Wales Index (Wales) or 4NI (Northern Ireland), among many others which are available. You can find your nearest facilities by postcode searches, for the place names or browse an interactive website map. In addition to these options, you may consider a leisure centres which usually offer facilities for a wide range of sporting activities. You can find the nearest leisure centre by contacting your local council, who should also be able to provide you with information about local sports clubs.  Additionally, you could enquire about leisure passes which may enable you to access facilities at discounted rates.



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