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Find out about keeping fit - 2015-16

Why important

Around 6% of all visits to council websites are for leisure services (a higher proportion – around 10% - of all visits to council sites from mobiles are for leisure). Providing information about local opportunities for exercise makes a vital contribution towards promoting health and wellbeing, particularly important for English county and unitary councils that have taken on public health responsibilities.

Date of assessment

February 2016


Metropolitan districts, Northern Ireland districts, and Welsh unitary councils


This is a good result with 72% providing a good or very good service for people trying to find out about keeping fit. In Wales, the figure is 91%, which is an outstanding result, and in Northern Ireland, 73%. The English metropolitan districts tested are lagging behind a bit on 63%, although there are seven authorities rated at 4 stars.

Find your council report

Check ‘coverage’ to see if your council has been surveyed. Go to councils page and select your council. Look for link to task report under 2017-18 results

Headline results


Provide a good or very good online service based on this survey

Better connected rankings


*Discrepancies in the figures are due to rounding off

  • 4 stars (Very Good)
  • 3 stars (Good)
  • 2 stars (Unsatisfactory)
  • 1 star (Poor)


Log in to view question set or View sample question set from 2016-17 (pdf)

Task report

We last carried out this survey in 2015, with shire districts only, and from a mobile device. The results were poor, with only 27% achieving our standard. Many of the problems related to the dependency on third party providers of leisure facilities (more than half of the 200 sites surveyed) whose sites offered variable quality of information.

Nearly a quarter of council sites provided no information at all, in most cases where the council has decided not to provide these facilities, since this is not a statutory requirement.

Things are rather different with this sample of councils, clearly committed to providing information about leisure services and mostly doing it well. The new Northern Ireland districts, that are tending to fall short of standards we see in other parts of the UK, also handled this task well.

Sites that retained leisure information on their own pages, rather than leaving this to an external partner website, tended to offer a simpler and more customer friendly user experience.

External sites can work well if thought has been given to integration, for example with navigation/search results pointing to a list of leisure centres/locations or activities and then a search within these separate areas.  It doesn't work so well if the user journey takes visitors to the home page of the separate site and then expects them to search again. In a number of cases there is no link back to the main council site, even for sites dedicated to the local area.

Some of the external sites covered various different parts of the UK. This doesn't always serve people looking for local information particularly well, and the experience may be disjointed. Commercial sites can also be overrun with adverts for gym membership and offers that are distracting. One experience with thethe widely used provider Everyone Active was reported by our reviewer:

[I was] taken to that seemed to take me around in circles. Very difficult to identify specific classes at specific centres. This site is very wordy 'We'd love you to start taking part in our legendary classes, you can book into our Group Exercise classes in a variety of ways:' but having already been sent here from the council site then have to select the council again from a non-alpha sorted list and choose a centre…….Selected 'Group Exercise' from the options - and was returned to the page I started at.  Very frustrating.

For metropolitan districts, Google searches often lead to results relevant to the councils’ public health/fitness/well-being initiative, which may require a referral from a GP. This may confuse those seeking classes operating on a regular basis for the general public, and may not be well integrated with the leisure section of the site. As the reviewer commented on one low-scoring site:

The Public Health section is informative and encouraging but needs more integration with the main site. Taking the routes in the survey gave access only to the Public Health aspect of fitness, encouraging activity but not directly linking to any details of what is available. A search for 'Leisure centres' opened the door to comprehensive information about leisure centres, classes and activities [but] no listing of leisure centres.

Too many councils are displaying class listings as a pdf, not optimised for use on screen – inconvenient, especially for mobile users.

Good practice

Finding the task

  • Task should be found by entering ‘council name’ ‘fitness’, ‘exercise’, ‘exercise classes’ or similar terms in Google (or other search engine).
  • Task should be found through the website’s search engine or A to Z index, both of which routes should take visitors straight to the same page.
  • There should be a prominent link on the home page to find out about leisure facilities and other fitness/exercise provision
  • Use signposting for ‘Leisure centres’ and/or ‘Sports facilities’ ‘fitness’ to navigate to the information.
  • If the information is contained on a third party website, provide a page of content summarising available ways of keeping fit with direct links to leisure centre/provider websites.
  • Provide a ‘Find my nearest’ facility that includes leisure centres/sports facilities

Completing the task

  • Encourage or require (depending on the contractual relationship) third party providers, such as leisure centres, to provide mobile-friendly versions of their websites.
  • Provide an overview of exercise classes or providers available on the council website with direct links through to any third party websites.
  • Ensure that it is easy to find out the cost, times and locations of the classes.
  • Make sure that the focus of the class is made clear, eg the age group and fitness level.
  • Encourage use of social media to promote the classes.
  • Provide clear guidance on how to get to the classes by different means of transport.
  • Although it is ultimately good to provide online booking, if this is not possible or booking is not necessary, ensure that this is clear and contact details are easily found.

Poor practice

  • Linking only to the home page of third party leisure centre providers
  • Providing no overview information about fitness classes/options
  • Failing to link public health fitness schemes to the council’s wider fitness/exercise/sports offer
  • Provider websites not optimized for mobile and with poor general usability
  • Timetables in ‘pdfs’ that are hard to read on a mobile
  • Separating price information from class times and locations

Sites that we recommend

Bury MDC

'Book a fitness session' offered as menu option on homepage. Clear and comprehensive information. Structured well. Each leisure centre offers comprehensive and accessible information about classes.

Denbighshire CC

This was a very good experience. There is one timetable to download for all leisure centres which contains everything including phone numbers and pricing. There is also a listing with descriptions of all the classes with links through to where they take place. A good service here, and easy to find the right section.

Downloadable timetable with full information including phone numbers and pricing, but also a listing of all classes in the web page with descriptions and links to where they take place.

Gateshead MBC

Well-structured site with easy access to all the relevant information. A clear landing page with all relevant options. Done very well


Excellent clear promotion and this council really benefits from having the leisure centre information integrated into the main site. Simple clear landing pages for each leisure centre with easy access to contact details, class descriptions, timetables and pricing information. The information is really clear and easy to navigate. Ideally I'd like to see dynamic linking between class descriptions and the timetables and pricing, but even without this it was quite straightforward to access the information from the leisure centre landing pages. Well done!,-Pwllheli.aspx

Leeds City Council

Easy access to activities, membership and online booking. Logical and well-constructed user journey. Comprehensive information given about available activities. Done well.

South Tyneside

Excellent landing page. Clear options, easy to browse. Very clear customer journey with comprehensive details of classes, times and locations.


Done well. Comprehensive information about individual classes. Easy to find and to browse. Clear and useful landing page with direct links to exercise classes



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