A £1.5m project to refurbish facilities at Birchwood Leisure Centre gets underway this month. The scheme, designed and delivered by Alliance Leisure, will upgrade the tired centre with a host of new facilities to meet the demands of existing users and drive growth.

Operated by Active Nation on behalf of City of Lincoln Council since 2007, the centre has also begun to outgrow its facilities with overcrowding in the gym and studio space unable to accommodate the expanding programme of classes.

The improvement programme, funded by City Of Lincoln Council, includes a new gym which increases the number of stations from 30 to 100 with new equipment, a larger free weights area and small group training space. It also includes the region’s first fully immersive group cycling studio from Les Mills with a cinema-scale screen and sound system.

A new soft play area and XHeight Adventure Climbing facility will allow the centre to increase its exercise offerings for children and expand its party packages giving it greater reach in the family market, while the Shapemaster power-assisted exercise studio, the city’s first, provides an opportunity to develop its work in rehabilitation, exercise referral and care for older people.

A new Costa ‘Proud to Serve’ café along with a new display area for the local RAF 50 & 61 Squadron Association memorabilia completes the refurbishment project, which Active Nation believes will increase its membership base from 1,000 to more than 2,000.

“The redevelopment gives us an opportunity to appeal to a new market of users who can’t fulfil their activity needs with the current facilities. The Birchwood community has had to travel outside of its immediate catchment for any activities beyond a basic fitness provision, but they will soon have a first class exercise experience with activities appealing to all age groups right on their doorstep,” says Mark Learnihan, Business Development & Partnership Director at Active Nation.

Tom Fairey, Senior Business Development Manager at Alliance Leisure, says: “This investment by the City of Lincoln will create a modern, affordable and sustainable leisure centre that will bring innovative new health and leisure facilities to a wider group of users from the local community and will save money for the council and taxpayer in the long term.”

Councillor Donald Nannestad, Deputy Leader of City of Lincoln Council and Portfolio Holder for Health and Recreational Services, said: “The modernised leisure centre will provide fantastic new facilities for Lincoln, and offer something for everyone all under one roof, creating more opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to get active.

“This is a significant investment by the city council in its aim to bring health benefits and opportunities to our residents and other leisure centre users. It’s brilliant to see work begin on site to deliver these exciting improvements.”


An innovative marketing campaign has helped Leeds City Council to conquer low cost competition boosting membership by a staggering 2,000 members.

The council have partnered with Alliance Leisure’s client support team after 14 budget gyms opened in the city, posing a big threat to the success of the council’s 16 leisure sites.

Launched in January 2017, the ‘We Are Family’ campaign was designed around the council’s brand values and wide offering for local families. Alliance Leisure adopted a multi-channel marketing approach to the campaign, utilising both offline and digital channels.

Tim Quirke, marketing manager for Active Leeds, says: “Our partnership with Alliance Leisure has enabled us to run a city-wide campaign targeting likely users of the leisure centres without stretching the limited resources available in the leisure marketing team. Alliance’s support and coaching has been invaluable in enabling these campaigns to be so successful.”

“For each campaign we use online advertising on channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to target customers in the local community served by each leisure centre. We also use search advertising on Google Adwords and YouTube to promote the campaign messages in addition to sending specific email and SMS messages to previous members or casual users of each centre. Coupled with other more traditional channels, this strategy ensures we target individuals located around each leisure centres and maximise the return on investment,” explains Paul Woodford, Director of Marketing and Partnership at Alliance Leisure.

To support the campaign, Alliance also provided training for over 600 members of staff. This ranged from management workshops focused on the sales process, coaching staff and monitoring performance to group training with frontline staff covering customer service, enquiry handling and up-selling techniques.

“The training has been superb. It’s really helped to unite the team and ensure continuity of messaging and process across our entire leisure portfolio,” says Quirke. “The campaign theme has also been very well received by the community, hitting home the message that what differentiates us from low cost operators is the sense of community and belonging. We Are Family is all about promoting a supportive, caring, inclusive environment where we all pull together to maximise the potential of each and every individual.”

The response to the digital advertising has seen three-quarters of a million people living in Leeds exposed to some form of online campaign advertising since January. This has generated more than 3,500 leads for the leisure centres.

Membership has grown from 17,500 at the start of the campaign to the current membership of 19,500 with sales up by more than 60 per cent some months.

Such has been the success of the campaign that it has been extended beyond the initial New Year period to front the introduction of single activity membership options, lower membership prices and the growth in the ‘Leeds Fitness Family’. Using the tagline ‘Our Family Just Got Bigger’ Active Leeds is positive this will be their most successful year on record.