Health and fitness club operator, Total Fitness, set for future growth following £6.5m loan from OakNorth Bank

  • Total Fitness has over 93,000 members and operates 15 health and fitness clubs across the North of England and Wales;
  • Led by the first female CEO in the UK’s private health club sector, the business was backed by private equity firm, NorthEdge Capital, in 2015;
  • The £6.5m loan from OakNorth Bank will be used to refinance an existing loan facility, support the refurbishment of several of Total Fitness’ clubs, and support future growth opportunities beyond the core health club business;
  • The UK’s health and fitness market is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.5% from 2023-28, driven by rising consumer awareness of the health benefits of regular exercise[1].

OakNorth Bank, the neobank for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs, has provided a £6.5m loan to Total Fitness, to refinance an existing loan facility, as well as support the refurbishment of several of its clubs. The transaction also includes a debt accordion to support future growth opportunities beyond the core health club business.

Founded in 1993 and headquartered in Wilmslow, Cheshire, Total Fitness has over 93,000 members and operates 15 health and fitness clubs across the North of England and Wales. Now employing c.600 staff members, each of its sites offer a full range of high-quality health and fitness facilities, including fully equipped gyms with extensive cardio, strength and resistance equipment, swimming pools, squash courts, indoor running tracks, relaxation areas with cafes, saunas, and studio spaces that host over 70 classes per week. All health clubs are also situated within central urban locations, with good transport links and large car parking facilities to accommodate peak visiting times.

Sophie Lawler, CEO of Total Fitness, commented: “As a team with an exciting story and a unique strategy for the future, we have been thoughtful about the right partner to support us through this next chapter. Our experience with OakNorth was hugely exciting – we found them to be dynamic and entrepreneurial, but with an appreciation for rich insight and considerate decision-making. Total Fitness creates spaces and opportunities for members to achieve more than they thought possible through fitness – we operate superscale health clubs in the North of England and Wales although our ambitions expand way beyond that model of club, and we’re delighted to have OakNorth partner with us for the future.”

Tom Rayner, CFO of Total Fitness, commented: “We’re thrilled to be commencing our next stage of growth alongside a funding partner who is committed to supporting us in advancing our purpose, that everyone is better fitter. This refinancing has enabled the business to invest in its future and will be the underpin for further growth in our member base and rich, varied offering. At a time when the nation’s fitness is more important than ever, our exciting new spaces and opportunities will further strengthen our commitment to lifelong fitness.”

Stewart Haworth, Director of Debt Finance at OakNorth, added: “Total Fitness is a very well-known regional health club brand that has an excellent reputation across the North of England and Wales. It is testament to Sophie’s vast experience in the fitness industry and the impressive leadership skills of her and her team that the business has successfully navigated challenging times of both the pandemic and the current cost-of-living crisis. The combination of the health and fitness industry’s forecasted growth with Total Fitness’ superior member proposition and well invested sites, has put the business in the perfect position to capitalise on these tailwinds. Sophie’s rise from gym instructor to leading on divesting health club sites across Europe, to now becoming the first female CEO in the UK’s private health club sector is truly inspiring and we look forward to building a strong relationship with her and the Total Fitness team over the long term.”

Phil Tarimo and Owen Malton of Dow Schofield Watts Debt Advisory provided fundraising advice to Total Fitness, who were also supported by commercial law firm, Pannone Corporate.

OakNorth were provided legal support by Graham Ball at Browne Jacobson.


Notes to editors

[1] IBIS WorldGyms & Fitness Centres in the UK – Market Size 2011–2029

About OakNorth Bank plc

Launched in September 2015 and founded by entrepreneurs, OakNorth Bank provides fast, flexible, and accessible debt finance to the UK’s Missing Middle.

Since its launch, the bank has:

  • Lent over £9.7bn, directly helping with the creation of 40,000 new jobs and 29,000 new homes across the UK.
  • Raised deposits from c.175,000 savers. 
  • Supported several hundred businesses across the UK with the debt finance to pursue their growth ambitions.

It is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. 

Visit for more information.

Media contact

Tom Pavey-Smith, Associate Director, Growth & Communications – [email protected] / [email protected] / 0791 716 5588


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