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Ray Algar, Gymtopia founder during a presentation to members of the health and fitness industry. Driving environmental, social and corporate governance change runs through his work across the global fitness industry

Ray Algar, Gymtopia founder speaking at a conference of European fitness industry leaders

As the founder of Gymtopia, my goal was to establish a digital platform that promotes Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives within the global health and fitness industry. ESG refers to the three central pillars used to measure a company’s performance and practices with the aim of promoting sustainable and responsible business operations.

The Birth of Gymtopia

The idea for Gymtopia came to me during a conference talk I was giving in Sao Paulo, Brazil as part of my role at Oxygen Consulting. There I met Richard Bilton, President of Companhia Athletica, a successful Brazilian club chain. Richard shared their innovative shoe collection project, which asked members to donate old gym shoes upon upgrading. These shoes were cleaned, bagged, and donated to Symap, a Brazilian charity promoting sports among underprivileged children. Starting with 700 pairs, the project now collects around 4,000 pairs annually.

The Power of Clubs

Health and fitness clubs are influential communities with the potential to drive significant social impact. For example, Planet Fitness, a US-based budget gym operator, had over 17 million members by the end of 2022, equivalent to the Netherlands’ population. Engaging such communities in acts of giving or environmental pledges can lead to extraordinary results.

Gymtopia’s Industry Support

Inspired by Companhia Athletica’s project, I aimed to create a platform promoting similar Environmental, Social, and Governance initiatives. Gymtopia has since garnered support from five companies across four countries, including:

Companhia Athletica — Brazil

Fitronics / Retention Management — UK/ USA

Gantner — Austria

Les Mills — New Zealand

The Gym Group – UK

Aligning with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

All UN SDGs |

Gymtopia now integrates the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into its platform, mapping projects against these 17 goals to showcase the industry’s commitment to global development. The SDGs, launched in 2015, address pressing social, economic, and environmental challenges and serve as a call to action for businesses, governments, and individuals to create a better, more sustainable future by 2030. Aligning Gymtopia’s projects with the SDGs highlights the health and fitness industry’s potential to contribute to a more sustainable world.

Gymtopia Advocates for Nine Priority Goals

All 17 of the goals are both urgent and important, however, there are nine goals that the global health and fitness industry can materially influence. These are classified in the following image under what is known as the three pillars of sustainability or the ‘triple bottom line’ of people (social goals), profit (economic goals) and planet (environmental goals).

Gymtopia Advocates for Nine SDGs which are: affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities and medicines, responsible consumption and production, climate action, good health and well-being, gender equality, reduced inequalities, decent work and economic growth, partnerships for the goals | Gymtopia

The Global Health and Fitness Industry Driving Impact

The global health and fitness industry, with over 185 million members and at least 205,000 clubs (The IHRSA Global Report 2019), can make a significant social impact. By sharing inspiring stories on Gymtopia and mapping them against the UN SDGs, we hope to motivate clubs, suppliers, and individuals to initiate projects, support ongoing efforts, and make a lasting difference in their communities. More action is now urgently required because the Covid-19 pandemic has set back progress.

Time to Act

The Environmental, Social, and Governance agenda has gained momentum, becoming a crucial aspect of corporate strategy. It’s time to act. Let’s unite to transform the global health and fitness industry into a force for good. Support Gymtopia and be part of this movement to connect, engage, and empower communities in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Together, we can leave a lasting impact on the world.

Ways to Get Involved

  1. Use the self-publishing link to submit your organisation’s project. For a small fee, we can research, write and upload the entire project for you.
  2. Become a Gymtopia strategic partner to support the platform and drive further environmental and social change. Get in touch here.
  3. Mention Gymtopia to your community and stakeholders.