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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

Editor’s letter: Activity to save lives

Physical activity will be a clinical priority for GPs for the next three years, with doctors offered training and support to help them get people active. But if fitness – as a subset of activity – wants to benefit, it must up its game

By Kate Cracknell | Published in Health Club Management 2016 issue 8
Activity is on the agenda – but will gyms be included? / shutterstock
Activity is on the agenda – but will gyms be included? / shutterstock
The new national agenda is about physical activity more broadly; if the gym sector wants to be a part of this, it needs to prove it

One in six deaths could be prevented by getting the public more active... yet the professionals with the authority and credibility to steer us towards this course of action, namely GPs, “often feel ill-equipped – due to lack of training, time and incentives – to discuss physical activity with patients”. So says Dr Zoe Williams, GP clinical champion for physical activity for Public Health England (PHE) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).

Fair to say there are trailblazers out there: the likes of Dr William Bird, with his passion for outdoor activity (see p10), and Dr John Morgan, “the GP who prescribes walking” who hit the headlines back in 2014. But as a general rule, doctors don’t feel confident in offering exercise advice, because it was never included in their original training.

This is a gap that urgently needs to be plugged. GPs and their teams deal with 90 per cent of NHS patient contacts, and Ipsos MORI research shows they’re far and away people’s primary source of advice on how to stay healthy: 57 per cent of people would ask their GP for such advice; only 1 per cent would ask a personal trainer. If GPs could be brought around to a preventative healthcare message, the impact on public health – and the sustainability of the NHS – could be huge.

So there’s cause for celebration with the news that the RCGP has made physical activity and lifestyle a clinical priority for the next three years, including training to support GPs in delivering this agenda. Meanwhile PHE’s new Health Matters report says GPs should exercise themselves, to be role models for their patients, and should mention physical activity in every consultation.

So is this the breakthrough our sector has been waiting for? We’ve been tantalisingly close before now. After much lobbying, exercise finally made it onto the Quality and Outcomes Framework – which rewards GPs for adhering to specified practices – in April 2013, only to be removed again a year later. Meanwhile ukactive has run successful pilots placing exercise professionals in GP surgeries, but as yet no national roll-out. And exercise referral, in spite of being around for decades, remains disjointed across the UK, with only isolated pockets of best practice.

These latest announcements could mark a turning point, but the gym sector has some work to do if it wants to be involved. As Everyone Health’s Annie Holden told HCM recently: “In the health world, people are disdainful of leisure delivering healthcare.” (See HCM June 16, p44)

Everyone Health has proven its worth in the healthcare sphere, while Nuffield Health (see p32) is a shining example of joined-up thinking, bringing gyms into partnerships with hospitals to deliver wellbeing across the spectrum. But how many more operators can emulate this?

Of course, not every gym has to go down this route. But with gym penetration rates only growing very slowly, the profile of members barely changing, and a flurry of preventative healthcare opportunities suddenly coming our way as reported in this page over recent months – from PHE’s healthy lifestyle campaign, One You, to inactivity becoming Sport England’s priority #1; and from Healthier You, the NHS-led diabetes prevention programme, to this RCGP initiative – there’s never been a better time for our sector to spread its wings.

So let’s put our energy behind upskilling our workforce: EuropeActive is pushing for qualifications at Level 5 and above (see p16), while CIMSPA wants to recognise those with medically-credible skills via a ‘Chartered Professional’ seal of approval. Let’s make gyms more welcoming (see again the inspirational Dr Bird on p10), but also get out into the community. Let’s offer GPs free access, so they know first-hand the benefits. And let’s develop a model that focuses as much on behaviour change as on fitness and performance.

The new national agenda is about physical activity more broadly; if the gym sector wants to be a part of this, it needs to prove it.

Kate Cracknell

[email protected]

@healthclubkate

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/76121_640533.jpg
Physical activity is now a priority for GPs – but is there a role for gyms?
Kate Cracknell, Editor, Health club Management,GP, doctor, RCGP, physical activity, PHE, Public Health England, Zoe Williams, John Morgan, William Bird, Kate Cracknell
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features

Editor’s letter: Activity to save lives

Physical activity will be a clinical priority for GPs for the next three years, with doctors offered training and support to help them get people active. But if fitness – as a subset of activity – wants to benefit, it must up its game

By Kate Cracknell | Published in Health Club Management 2016 issue 8
Activity is on the agenda – but will gyms be included? / shutterstock
Activity is on the agenda – but will gyms be included? / shutterstock
The new national agenda is about physical activity more broadly; if the gym sector wants to be a part of this, it needs to prove it

One in six deaths could be prevented by getting the public more active... yet the professionals with the authority and credibility to steer us towards this course of action, namely GPs, “often feel ill-equipped – due to lack of training, time and incentives – to discuss physical activity with patients”. So says Dr Zoe Williams, GP clinical champion for physical activity for Public Health England (PHE) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).

Fair to say there are trailblazers out there: the likes of Dr William Bird, with his passion for outdoor activity (see p10), and Dr John Morgan, “the GP who prescribes walking” who hit the headlines back in 2014. But as a general rule, doctors don’t feel confident in offering exercise advice, because it was never included in their original training.

This is a gap that urgently needs to be plugged. GPs and their teams deal with 90 per cent of NHS patient contacts, and Ipsos MORI research shows they’re far and away people’s primary source of advice on how to stay healthy: 57 per cent of people would ask their GP for such advice; only 1 per cent would ask a personal trainer. If GPs could be brought around to a preventative healthcare message, the impact on public health – and the sustainability of the NHS – could be huge.

So there’s cause for celebration with the news that the RCGP has made physical activity and lifestyle a clinical priority for the next three years, including training to support GPs in delivering this agenda. Meanwhile PHE’s new Health Matters report says GPs should exercise themselves, to be role models for their patients, and should mention physical activity in every consultation.

So is this the breakthrough our sector has been waiting for? We’ve been tantalisingly close before now. After much lobbying, exercise finally made it onto the Quality and Outcomes Framework – which rewards GPs for adhering to specified practices – in April 2013, only to be removed again a year later. Meanwhile ukactive has run successful pilots placing exercise professionals in GP surgeries, but as yet no national roll-out. And exercise referral, in spite of being around for decades, remains disjointed across the UK, with only isolated pockets of best practice.

These latest announcements could mark a turning point, but the gym sector has some work to do if it wants to be involved. As Everyone Health’s Annie Holden told HCM recently: “In the health world, people are disdainful of leisure delivering healthcare.” (See HCM June 16, p44)

Everyone Health has proven its worth in the healthcare sphere, while Nuffield Health (see p32) is a shining example of joined-up thinking, bringing gyms into partnerships with hospitals to deliver wellbeing across the spectrum. But how many more operators can emulate this?

Of course, not every gym has to go down this route. But with gym penetration rates only growing very slowly, the profile of members barely changing, and a flurry of preventative healthcare opportunities suddenly coming our way as reported in this page over recent months – from PHE’s healthy lifestyle campaign, One You, to inactivity becoming Sport England’s priority #1; and from Healthier You, the NHS-led diabetes prevention programme, to this RCGP initiative – there’s never been a better time for our sector to spread its wings.

So let’s put our energy behind upskilling our workforce: EuropeActive is pushing for qualifications at Level 5 and above (see p16), while CIMSPA wants to recognise those with medically-credible skills via a ‘Chartered Professional’ seal of approval. Let’s make gyms more welcoming (see again the inspirational Dr Bird on p10), but also get out into the community. Let’s offer GPs free access, so they know first-hand the benefits. And let’s develop a model that focuses as much on behaviour change as on fitness and performance.

The new national agenda is about physical activity more broadly; if the gym sector wants to be a part of this, it needs to prove it.

Kate Cracknell

[email protected]

@healthclubkate

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/76121_640533.jpg
Physical activity is now a priority for GPs – but is there a role for gyms?
Kate Cracknell, Editor, Health club Management,GP, doctor, RCGP, physical activity, PHE, Public Health England, Zoe Williams, John Morgan, William Bird, Kate Cracknell
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Swim England has warned that 2,000 swimming pools could be lost forever unless the government ...
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Sports Minister, Nigel Huddleston, has joined gym-goers this morning to kick-off the annual National Fitness ...
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Featured supplier news: Life Fitness introduces Integrity SL, the next generation LED console
Life Fitness has unveiled the new Integrity SL, its connected LED console designed for the Integrity Series cardio portfolio.
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Featured operator news: Everyone Active bolsters Everyone on Demand and enters second year with five new partnerships
Everyone Active has signed a number of new deals which will see the operator strengthen its digital product offering, Everyone on Demand.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Everyone Active generates £342m in social value
Award-winning leisure operator Everyone Active generated £342million in social value at its sites across the country in 2019/20.
Company profiles
Company profile: Technogym UK Ltd
Technogym offers a complete ecosystem of connected smart equipment, digital services, on-demand training experiences and ...
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Company profile: Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH
Imagine a short treatment combined with many positive and long-lasting effects that your customers will ...
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Click on a catalogue to view it online
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Lockers/interior design
Crown Sports Lockers: Lockers/interior design
Uniforms
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Art of Cryo: Whole body cryotherapy
Skincare
Comfort Zone - Davines S.p.A: Skincare
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
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Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
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Diary dates
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Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
13-14 Oct 2021
Online,
Diary dates
01-03 Feb 2022
Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
07-10 Apr 2022
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
15-16 Jun 2022
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
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tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
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