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features

HCM People: Belinda StewardMD of leisure, health and wellbeing, Places Leisure Places Leisure

We need to make it automatic that when people go to their doctor, they’re offered exercise rather than medication where appropriate

Published in Health Club Management 2024 issue 4
Steward has an extensive background in hospitality / photo: Places Leisure
Steward has an extensive background in hospitality / photo: Places Leisure
Physical inactivity is the fourth largest killer in the UK, but our industry can do something about it

Having just stepped into your new job, what appealed to you about it?
It’s a privilege to have this role and be part of the solution when it comes to making physical activity accessible to everyone.

The stats really motivate me. Physical inactivity is the fourth largest killer in the UK, which is shocking, but our industry is able to do something about it.

You've held leadership roles in hospitality, how will you deploy the skills and experience you gained?
I have a good understanding of how to operationalise and optimise businesses, so I’ll be looking for ways to add value for our customers.

Part of this will be ensuring we have a consistent brand across all our facilities, as the more consistent you are, the more your customers know what to expect and it makes it easier for customers and colleagues to transfer between facilities.

Cross-industry partnership is also key, so I’ll be looking to form collaborations with others in the industry and industry bodies to broaden accessibility.

During COVID I was fortunate to be on the CEO board for accommodation providers working in UK hospitality and we were pivotal in lobbying the government to get hospitality venues opened early. It was a really interesting insight into how collaboration with people you sometimes see as your competitors can work to the benefit of the community at large.

I'll also be looking at how we can use technology to make the experience easier for our customers, so the time our colleagues spend with them adds value, rather than them being caught up with functional tasks.

The customer journey is another area for review. I'll be making sure our facilities are accessible and where we don't have buildings, looking at how we can take our services into communities.

What are Places Leisure's main challenges as you step into your role?
The same as everybody in terms of dealing with increased costs – particularly in utilities.

We’ve chosen to be a Real Living Wage provider, which we believe is the right thing to do.

It resonated with our teams in a recent colleague survey which reflected that we’re a great place to work. We also have good retention rates among our people and loyal staff help create loyal customers.

What are the main opportunities?
I'm really encouraged by the uplift in demand for physical activity we're experiencing. It's great to see this has become so popular in a post-COVID world.

In contrast, pubs haven’t regained the momentum they had before the pandemic and are still faced with the headwinds of costs.

There are opportunities for innovation – for example, we're looking to open some padel courts, as it’s a fantastic sport that brings in a whole new group of people. And there are opportunities to take our offering out into our communities.

Our sector has the chance and the responsibility, to help the NHS. We need to make it automatic that when people go to their doctor, they’re offered exercise rather than medication where appropriate. Industry collaboration will make it easier to work in partnership with the NHS and data is the key to demonstrating the value we offer.

What new challenges lie ahead?
We've just taken on the management of 10 leisure centres for Northumberland County Council, which gives us a bigger geographic reach and we're also looking for more opportunities to take our offering out into our communities. It should never be the case that people don't have access to physical activity and I think it's my responsibility to make sure we get out there and give people the chance to enjoy it.

Are you working on any special programmes?
Graves Health and Sports Centre is taking part in a groundbreaking diabetes and peripheral neuropathy study run by Sheffield Teaching Hospital Community Wellness Services and the NHS Foundation Trust. This is the first trial of a physical activity intervention and participants will receive one-to-one sessions from a Level 4 endocrine-trained fitness professional. It’s the first study of its kind to be conducted within a leisure centre.

We’ve also teamed up with British Blind Sport to support the ‘See Sport Differently’ campaign, which aims to tackle activity barriers for the two million people in the UK living with sight loss.

We’re looking at ways to make our centres more accessible and have already delivered 10 workshops on this to 111 staff so they have the necessary skills to welcome and support these customers.

Our sector tackles physical inactivity – the fourth biggest killer in the UK / photo: Places Leisure
Our sector tackles physical inactivity – the fourth biggest killer in the UK / photo: Places Leisure
A recent survey showed the company is a great place to work / photo: Places Leisure
A recent survey showed the company is a great place to work / photo: Places Leisure
Places Leisure will be providing Level 4 endocrine-trained fitness professionals / photo: Places Leisure / tobyphillipsphotography
Places Leisure will be providing Level 4 endocrine-trained fitness professionals / photo: Places Leisure / tobyphillipsphotography
/ photo: Places Leisure
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2024/789340_211003.jpg
The MD of leisure, health and wellbeing at Places Leisure talks about the opportunities she sees in a post-COVID world
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features

HCM People: Belinda StewardMD of leisure, health and wellbeing, Places Leisure Places Leisure

We need to make it automatic that when people go to their doctor, they’re offered exercise rather than medication where appropriate

Published in Health Club Management 2024 issue 4
Steward has an extensive background in hospitality / photo: Places Leisure
Steward has an extensive background in hospitality / photo: Places Leisure
Physical inactivity is the fourth largest killer in the UK, but our industry can do something about it

Having just stepped into your new job, what appealed to you about it?
It’s a privilege to have this role and be part of the solution when it comes to making physical activity accessible to everyone.

The stats really motivate me. Physical inactivity is the fourth largest killer in the UK, which is shocking, but our industry is able to do something about it.

You've held leadership roles in hospitality, how will you deploy the skills and experience you gained?
I have a good understanding of how to operationalise and optimise businesses, so I’ll be looking for ways to add value for our customers.

Part of this will be ensuring we have a consistent brand across all our facilities, as the more consistent you are, the more your customers know what to expect and it makes it easier for customers and colleagues to transfer between facilities.

Cross-industry partnership is also key, so I’ll be looking to form collaborations with others in the industry and industry bodies to broaden accessibility.

During COVID I was fortunate to be on the CEO board for accommodation providers working in UK hospitality and we were pivotal in lobbying the government to get hospitality venues opened early. It was a really interesting insight into how collaboration with people you sometimes see as your competitors can work to the benefit of the community at large.

I'll also be looking at how we can use technology to make the experience easier for our customers, so the time our colleagues spend with them adds value, rather than them being caught up with functional tasks.

The customer journey is another area for review. I'll be making sure our facilities are accessible and where we don't have buildings, looking at how we can take our services into communities.

What are Places Leisure's main challenges as you step into your role?
The same as everybody in terms of dealing with increased costs – particularly in utilities.

We’ve chosen to be a Real Living Wage provider, which we believe is the right thing to do.

It resonated with our teams in a recent colleague survey which reflected that we’re a great place to work. We also have good retention rates among our people and loyal staff help create loyal customers.

What are the main opportunities?
I'm really encouraged by the uplift in demand for physical activity we're experiencing. It's great to see this has become so popular in a post-COVID world.

In contrast, pubs haven’t regained the momentum they had before the pandemic and are still faced with the headwinds of costs.

There are opportunities for innovation – for example, we're looking to open some padel courts, as it’s a fantastic sport that brings in a whole new group of people. And there are opportunities to take our offering out into our communities.

Our sector has the chance and the responsibility, to help the NHS. We need to make it automatic that when people go to their doctor, they’re offered exercise rather than medication where appropriate. Industry collaboration will make it easier to work in partnership with the NHS and data is the key to demonstrating the value we offer.

What new challenges lie ahead?
We've just taken on the management of 10 leisure centres for Northumberland County Council, which gives us a bigger geographic reach and we're also looking for more opportunities to take our offering out into our communities. It should never be the case that people don't have access to physical activity and I think it's my responsibility to make sure we get out there and give people the chance to enjoy it.

Are you working on any special programmes?
Graves Health and Sports Centre is taking part in a groundbreaking diabetes and peripheral neuropathy study run by Sheffield Teaching Hospital Community Wellness Services and the NHS Foundation Trust. This is the first trial of a physical activity intervention and participants will receive one-to-one sessions from a Level 4 endocrine-trained fitness professional. It’s the first study of its kind to be conducted within a leisure centre.

We’ve also teamed up with British Blind Sport to support the ‘See Sport Differently’ campaign, which aims to tackle activity barriers for the two million people in the UK living with sight loss.

We’re looking at ways to make our centres more accessible and have already delivered 10 workshops on this to 111 staff so they have the necessary skills to welcome and support these customers.

Our sector tackles physical inactivity – the fourth biggest killer in the UK / photo: Places Leisure
Our sector tackles physical inactivity – the fourth biggest killer in the UK / photo: Places Leisure
A recent survey showed the company is a great place to work / photo: Places Leisure
A recent survey showed the company is a great place to work / photo: Places Leisure
Places Leisure will be providing Level 4 endocrine-trained fitness professionals / photo: Places Leisure / tobyphillipsphotography
Places Leisure will be providing Level 4 endocrine-trained fitness professionals / photo: Places Leisure / tobyphillipsphotography
/ photo: Places Leisure
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2024/789340_211003.jpg
The MD of leisure, health and wellbeing at Places Leisure talks about the opportunities she sees in a post-COVID world
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Gymshark has launched a new global brand platform, We Do Gym, to make it clear ...
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Nike and recovery brand, Hyperice, have partnered to create two tech-driven recovery products – a vest and ...
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Boutique operator Heartcore is paying damages to a violinist whose career was cut short following ...
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Belgian retail giant, Colruyt Group, is challenging the status quo of the fitness industry in ...
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According to a year-long study, offering financial incentives to people to encourage them to lose ...
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Xponential Fitness has appointed sales and franchise expert, Mark King, as CEO, to take the ...
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Fitness influencer and karate champion, Anna Lewandowska, has announced the launch of a multi-concept boutique ...
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Featured supplier news: CoverMe Fitness launches in Australian market
CoverMe Fitness, the studio management app for the fitness industry, has launched in Australia, with industry veteran Tony Zonato as managing director for the region.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Explosion of passion for fitness at RiminiWellness 2024 and record success for Panatta
The passion for fitness and bodybuilding reached new heights at the Panatta stands during RiminiWellness (30 May – 2 June 20204) – the largest fitness event in Italy – which this year exceeded the 100,000 visitor mark.
Company profiles
Company profile: Gymkit UK
Working with many of the UK’s leading health club chains, hotels, and sports clubs Gymkit ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Future Fit
Since 1993, Future Fit have been consistently raising the bar when it comes to training ...
Supplier Showcases
Supplier showcase - Jon Williams
Supplier Showcases
Supplier showcase - Safe Space: Delivering the vision
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Featured press releases
Taylor Made Designs Ltd press release: Taylor Made designs celebrates another successful elevate!
The team from Taylor Made Designs (TMD) enjoyed two days at the UK’s premium trade show this month, catching up with customers and showcasing samples from their new Leisure Essentials range.
Featured press releases
Zoom Media press release: Zoom Media UK partners with Your Personal Training to expand rewards platform to PT clients
Zoom Media UK, the leading provider of digital media solutions for fitness facilities, is announcing an exciting new partnership with Your Personal Training (YPT), the UK’s foremost Personal Training brand. This collaboration marks the first time Zoom’s rewards platform will be directly available to the clients of YPT trainers, offering unique incentives to enhance client engagement and retention.
Directory
Lockers
Crown Sports Lockers: Lockers
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Cryotherapy
Salt therapy products
Himalayan Source: Salt therapy products
Snowroom
TechnoAlpin SpA: Snowroom
Property & Tenders
Cleveland Lakes, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire
Cotswold Lakes Trust
Property & Tenders
Loughton, IG10
Knight Frank
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
03-05 Sep 2024
IMPACT Exhibition Center, Bangkok, Thailand
Diary dates
08-10 Sep 2024
Wyndham® Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs™ Resort, Lake Buena Vista, United States
Diary dates
19-19 Sep 2024
The Salil Hotel Riverside - Bangkok, Bangkok 10120, Thailand
Diary dates
20-22 Sep 2024
Locations worldwide,
Diary dates
01-04 Oct 2024
REVĪVŌ Wellness Resort Nusa Dua Bali, Kabupaten Badung, Indonesia
Diary dates
09-13 Oct 2024
Soneva Fushi, Maldives
Diary dates
10 Oct 2024
QEII Conference Centre, London,
Diary dates
22-25 Oct 2024
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
24-24 Oct 2024
QEII Conference Centre, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
04-07 Nov 2024
In person, St Andrews, United Kingdom
Diary dates
04-06 Feb 2025
Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
11-13 Feb 2025
Fairmont Riyadh , Saudi Arabia
Diary dates
10-13 Apr 2025
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
07-07 Jun 2025
Worldwide, Various,
Diary dates
28-31 Oct 2025
Koelnmesse, Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
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