Virgin Active sells historic Barbican site to Nuffield

health fitness travel

Nuffield Health has acquired the lease for the historic Barbican health club site in London, which is currently operated by Virgin Active.Located on Aldersgate Road, the property has been operated as a health club since the 1980s, when it first opened as The Barbican Health and Fitness Centre. Thanks to being developed by industry entrepreneur David Giampaolo – and its association with Diana, Princess of Wales, who opened the club – the property became one of the UK’s first upmarket health and fitness venues.

Since its launch, the club has operated under a number of owners and brands – including Healthtrack, Holmes Place and, most recently, Virgin Active. Nuffield’s decision to acquire the property is part of a larger strategy, which the health charity is looking to implement for its London operations.

A spokesperson for Nuffield Health said: “We can confirm that we have taken over the lease of the Virgin Active site at the Barbican, London.

“The site will become London’s leading fitness and wellbeing centre, representing a strategic opportunity for us to reach more people with our connected health services and strengthen our London presence.”

A spokesperson for Virgin Active said the arrangement for Nuffield to take over the site suited both parties.

“Nuffield approached us a few months ago around this site, given its proximity to St Barts (where Nuffield is building a new hospital) and their connected health services strategy,” they said.

“Transferring the Barbican site to them suited us given we already have broad coverage of gyms in the City of London.”

“This also gave us the opportunity to move our head office to the same location as our Academy and filming studio for our Online+ digital content. We wish them all the best with this site.”

Virgin Active is currently battling to secure its future, after being hit badly by the pandemic. Investors in the company are understood to be ready to provide a £60m+ funding injection into the fitness operator, but any fresh investment would need to be accompanied by a “wide-ranging” restructure of the business. Virgin Active had 243 health clubs globally prior to the pandemic (at the end of 2019) with 42 in the UK.

Nuffield Health currently operates 31 hospitals; a total of 113 fitness and wellbeing clubs and healthcare clinics; and more than 200 workplace wellbeing services.

Based on materials of Leisure Opportunities