Latest
issue
GET HCM
magazine
Sign up for the FREE digital edition of HCM magazine and also get the HCM ezine and breaking news email alerts.
Not right now, thanksclose this window I've already subscribed!
The Leisure Media Company Ltd
The Leisure Media Company Ltd
The Leisure Media Company Ltd
Follow Health Club Management on Twitter Like Health Club Management on Facebook Join the discussion with Health Club Management on LinkedIn Follow Health Club Management on Instagram
FITNESS, HEALTH, WELLNESS

features

Inclusive fitness: United we stand

Too many health clubs fail to adequately cater for disabled people – but there’s a small handful of operators that are leading by example. Kath Hudson asks them about their approach

By Kath Hudson | Published in Health Club Management 2016 issue 3

Brian Carlin,

Chief executive,

Aspire

Brian Carlin
Brian Carlin

Aspire’s vision is to create a world where spinal cord injured people live as equals in society, free from environmental, social and economic prejudice. The ‘purple pound’, as it’s known, is worth £84bn in disposable income, but the fitness industry largely ignores this market and discriminates against it when it comes to employment.

Our health club has an IFI-approved gym, a 25m swimming pool complete with full ramp access, and a dance studio where, of the 51 classes offered, half are inclusive. Twenty seven per cent of our members have disabilities, but they account for 36 per cent of the total usage. Independently funded, we’ve proved this is a business model that works. 

One of our USPs is that 60 per cent of our fitness team are also disabled. This is so important in conveying a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere, as a common problem is the unintentional prejudice of health and fitness staff.

We export our ethos through our InstructAbility training course, which trains disabled people to be fitness instructors – staff training is a great place to start. Aspire also encourages fitness operators to sign up to the Two Ticks Positive scheme, which guarantees an interview to anyone who has the necessary qualifications and experience, even if they declare that they have a disability.

"60 per cent of our fitness team are disabled. It’s so important, as a common problem is the unintentional prejudice of fitness staff"

Aspire trains disabled people to become fitness instructors
Aspire trains disabled people to become fitness instructors

Ben Quilter,

Disability and inclusion manager,

GLL

Ben Quilter
Ben Quilter

As a retired Paralympian who started to experience sight loss at the age of 12, I know that a lot of the time disabled people just want to blend in and be given the confidence to interact with the leisure facility in the same way as everyone else. At GLL, we believe our staff training should focus on developing understanding to help bring about this aim, and make everyone aware of individuals’ needs.

GLL bases inclusive sessions on demand and need. For example, in some partnerships we run inclusive drop-in gym sessions, with a fitness instructor on-hand to provide additional support. The aim of these sessions is to give people with disabilities an introduction to the facility, make them familiar with the settings and surroundings, and give them the confidence to come independently.

We also have community sports managers who work in an outreach capacity, getting to know groups, schools and organisations to establish what needs they have and how we can meet their requests. A popular activity is swimming lessons, and we’re currently working on an aquatics programme to create a pathway for disabled people.

GLL: A focus on staff training
GLL: A focus on staff training

Sophia Warner,

Founder,

Traibal Series

Sophia Warner
Sophia Warner

Tribal Series launched last year, with the backing of Sportsworld, to provide the first mass-participation disability sports events dedicated to the UK’s disabled population. The inaugural event, a Para Tri, took place last August and four more are planned for this year: a Para Run/Push (fun run/wheelchair race), a Para Swim and two Para Tris. We’re aiming for 5,000 participants across the four events, and each year we hope to add more – and more varied – events to the calendar.

There simply aren’t enough opportunities out there for disabled people who want to take part in sport just for fun. While event operators are great at letting disabled people get involved, the cut-off times and equipment restrictions create unintentional barriers. Our series has no cut-off times and participants can use flippers, floats, electric and day wheelchairs, adapted cycles and other aids where needed.

Tribal Series is fundamentally about getting out there, getting active and having fun. We encourage participants to compete against themselves – everyone has a chip timer, so they know what they have to beat next time. It’s the first series that allows the UK’s disabled community to come together, compete and have fun on a dedicated playing field.

We hope health clubs will encourage their members to use our events as inspiring goals to work towards, and we’d love to work in partnership with a health club chain to drive sports participation among disabled people.

In addition, our relays allow disabled and non-disabled teams to face the challenge together, as long as there’s at least one person with a disability per team. This is a really great way to encourage integration and camaraderie between health and fitness club members.

"Our relays allow disabled and non-disabled teams
to face the
challenge together "

Tribal Series aims to help disabled people take part in sport just for fun
Tribal Series aims to help disabled people take part in sport just for fun

John Harling,

Facility manager,

Portway Lifestyle Centre

John Harling
John Harling

The Portway Lifestyle Centre, run by Sandwell Leisure Trust, is a purpose-built leisure facility that opened in September 2013 and that incorporates a GP practice. During the planning phase we consulted with local disability groups, individuals with disabilities and a planning team on the design, access and activities, to ensure we were best supporting users with disabilities. As a result, we’ve just received a top-level accreditation from the IFI (Inclusive Fitness Initiative).

Facilities include a 115-station gym with a wide range of adapted equipment; a fully accessible, and very popular, 10m climbing wall; a 10m hydrotherapy pool; and a speciality sensory room.

We use different signs, colours, surface textures and technology to support users in getting around the centre as independently as possible. There are hearing induction loop systems, braille signs and a Wayfinding audible navigation tool, as well as easy access ramps and walkways with tactile paving and handrails.

The centre is also a Changing Places facility, so it has a changing bench and hoist. Added to this, all the staff have received disability awareness training to provide the best customer service.

During 2014/15, we received more than 45,000 disabled visits. This has been achieved by offering free weekday access to disability groups and individuals with a pass. We’ve also partnered with Sandwell Visually Impaired, and run a buddy system with volunteers providing sighted support. Additionally, we work closely with the disability development officer at Adult Services.

"We use different signs, colours, surface textures and technology to support users in getting around the centre independently"

Portway’s buddy system offers support for the visually impaired
Portway’s buddy system offers support for the visually impaired

Vicki Bainsfair,

Health and wellbeing manager,

YMCA, Romford

Vicki Bainsfair
Vicki Bainsfair

Being inclusive is part of our mission to transform the communities in which we work, enabling more young people to belong, contribute and thrive.

We worked with the Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) to make our facility accessible, and now 25 per cent of our machines are accessible and IFI-accredited, while 12 of our 100 group exercise classes are specifically designed for those people with additional needs.

Many of our frontline staff have been trained to a level that gives them an understanding of how to interact with people with additional needs, and they’re willing to go that extra mile to assist. Our fitness staff also have additional qualifications to deliver sessions directly to those with additional or specific needs, such as stroke rehabilitation, cancer referral and GP referral.

Operators shouldn’t shy away from being inclusive. Speak to the clients you’re trying to reach and don’t be frightened of getting it wrong. Doing nothing is worse than using the wrong language or signage.

Bainsfair: ‘Operators shouldn’t shy away from being inclusive’
Bainsfair: ‘Operators shouldn’t shy away from being inclusive’
Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Legend’s smartphone app means people have access to the system wherever they are / shutterstock
Legend’s smartphone app means people have access to the system wherever they are / shutterstock
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/HCM2016_3inclusive.jpg
Many operators struggle to cater for disabled users – but there are some wonderful examples of best practice out there. We report
Aspire Leisure Centre GLL Traibal Series Portway Lifestyle Centre Romford YMCA,health clubs, disabled people, operators,
HCM magazine
We already have an incredible organisation, but we’re humble enough to recognise there are still areas for continued improvement
HCM magazine
HCM People

Dr Jonathan Leary

Founder, Remedy Place
It was as though the whole world woke up at the same time
HCM magazine
Egym has announced deals designed to position it for growth acceleration, as Kath Hudson reports
HCM magazine
HCM People

Cristiano Ronaldo

Footballer and entrepreneur
Taking care of your physical and mental health is essential for a fulfilling life
HCM magazine
Will Orr has been talking to HCM about the company’s new strategy for 2024, as Kath Hudson reports
HCM promotional features
Sponsored
InBody logged an amazing 100,000 scans in January 2024 alone
HCM promotional features
Sponsored
The partnership between PureGym and Belfast-based supplier BLK BOX is transforming the gym floor
HCM promotional features
Sponsored
The New Keiser M3i Studio Bike brings ride data to life to engage and delight members
HCM promotional features
Sponsored
D2F had updated its brand styling to keep pace with business growth. MD, John Lofting and operations director, Matt Aynsley, explain the rationale
HCM promotional features
Sponsored
University of Sheffield Sport has opened the doors of its flagship Goodwin Sports Centre following a major refurbishment
HCM promotional features
Sponsored
Epassi, a provider of workplace wellness benefits, is creating a fitter and more productive workforce, one membership at a time 
HCM promotional features
Sponsored
Nuffield Health has worked with ServiceSport UK for more than ten years, ensuring the equipment in its clubs is commercially optimised
HCM promotional features
Sponsored
GymNation is pioneering the future of fitness with software specialist Perfect Gym providing a scalable tech platform to power and sustain its growth
HCM promotional features
Sponsored
Operators, prepare to revolutionise the way members connect with personal trainers in your club, with the ground-breaking Brawn platform.
HCM promotional features
Latest News
Planet Fitness has become the subject of a hate campaign by certain groups of consumers ...
Latest News
Recovery, social wellness and longevity were talking points at PerformX recently, tipped by many speakers ...
Latest News
Industry experts are gathering in Cologne for today's European Health & Fitness Forum (EHFF), followed ...
Latest News
Jason Worthy has been appointed group CEO of Myzone to lead the 'next stage of ...
Latest News
John Kersh has announced he is leaving boutique franchisor, Xponential Fitness, after eight years with ...
Latest News
Oxygen Consulting is about to launch its first UK Padel Report, which investigates this fast-growing ...
Latest News
Global publishing outfit, Leisure Media, has announced details of its new annual conference for decision-makers ...
Latest News
Portugese footballer, Cristiano Ronaldo, has launched a health and wellness app that harmonises advice on ...
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Study Active acquires Premier Global name and select branding assets
Study Active has legally acquired the name “Premier Global” and select Premier Global branding assets from Assessment Technologies Institute LLC, part of Ascend Learning in the US.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Sibec EMEA to blend fitness with luxury at Fairmont Monte Carlo
Experience the pinnacle of fitness and luxury at the premier industry event, Sibec EMEA, set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Fairmont Monte Carlo this Autumn.
Company profiles
Company profile: Alliance Leisure
The company’s core business is the provision of facility development and support for local authorities, ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Perfect Gym Solutions S.A.
Perfect Gym is a global software provider specialising in fitness and recreation facility management solutions. ...
Supplier Showcase
Supplier showcase - Jon Williams
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Featured press releases
Greenwich Leisure Limited press release: ‘Better’ managers get a ‘taste’ for volunteering
The management team from ‘Better’ leisure centres in the Lewisham area is looking for local projects that need a helping hand.
Featured press releases
KeepMe press release: Gymnation appoints Keepme CEO Ian Mullane to board of directors
The fastest growing gym chain based out of the GCC has appointed Keepme’s CEO, Ian Mullane to its board of directors.
Directory
Snowroom
TechnoAlpin SpA: Snowroom
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Lockers
Fitlockers: Lockers
Cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Cryotherapy
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
salt therapy products
Saltability: salt therapy products
Property & Tenders
Loughton, IG10
Knight Frank
Property & Tenders
Grantham, Leicestershire
Belvoir Castle
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
11-14 Apr 2024
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
22-24 Apr 2024
Galgorm Resort, York,
Diary dates
10-12 May 2024
China Import & Export Fair Complex, Guangzhou, China
Diary dates
23-24 May 2024
Large Hall of the Chamber of Commerce (Erbprinzenpalais), Wiesbaden, Germany
Diary dates
30 May - 02 Jun 2024
Rimini Exhibition Center, Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
08-08 Jun 2024
Worldwide, Various,
Diary dates
11-13 Jun 2024
Raffles City Convention Centre, Singapore, Singapore
Diary dates
12-13 Jun 2024
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
03-05 Sep 2024
IMPACT Exhibition Center, Bangkok, Thailand
Diary dates
19-19 Sep 2024
The Salil Hotel Riverside - Bangkok, Bangkok 10120, Thailand
Diary dates
01-04 Oct 2024
REVĪVŌ Wellness Resort Nusa Dua Bali, Kabupaten Badung, Indonesia
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

features

Inclusive fitness: United we stand

Too many health clubs fail to adequately cater for disabled people – but there’s a small handful of operators that are leading by example. Kath Hudson asks them about their approach

By Kath Hudson | Published in Health Club Management 2016 issue 3

Brian Carlin,

Chief executive,

Aspire

Brian Carlin
Brian Carlin

Aspire’s vision is to create a world where spinal cord injured people live as equals in society, free from environmental, social and economic prejudice. The ‘purple pound’, as it’s known, is worth £84bn in disposable income, but the fitness industry largely ignores this market and discriminates against it when it comes to employment.

Our health club has an IFI-approved gym, a 25m swimming pool complete with full ramp access, and a dance studio where, of the 51 classes offered, half are inclusive. Twenty seven per cent of our members have disabilities, but they account for 36 per cent of the total usage. Independently funded, we’ve proved this is a business model that works. 

One of our USPs is that 60 per cent of our fitness team are also disabled. This is so important in conveying a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere, as a common problem is the unintentional prejudice of health and fitness staff.

We export our ethos through our InstructAbility training course, which trains disabled people to be fitness instructors – staff training is a great place to start. Aspire also encourages fitness operators to sign up to the Two Ticks Positive scheme, which guarantees an interview to anyone who has the necessary qualifications and experience, even if they declare that they have a disability.

"60 per cent of our fitness team are disabled. It’s so important, as a common problem is the unintentional prejudice of fitness staff"

Aspire trains disabled people to become fitness instructors
Aspire trains disabled people to become fitness instructors

Ben Quilter,

Disability and inclusion manager,

GLL

Ben Quilter
Ben Quilter

As a retired Paralympian who started to experience sight loss at the age of 12, I know that a lot of the time disabled people just want to blend in and be given the confidence to interact with the leisure facility in the same way as everyone else. At GLL, we believe our staff training should focus on developing understanding to help bring about this aim, and make everyone aware of individuals’ needs.

GLL bases inclusive sessions on demand and need. For example, in some partnerships we run inclusive drop-in gym sessions, with a fitness instructor on-hand to provide additional support. The aim of these sessions is to give people with disabilities an introduction to the facility, make them familiar with the settings and surroundings, and give them the confidence to come independently.

We also have community sports managers who work in an outreach capacity, getting to know groups, schools and organisations to establish what needs they have and how we can meet their requests. A popular activity is swimming lessons, and we’re currently working on an aquatics programme to create a pathway for disabled people.

GLL: A focus on staff training
GLL: A focus on staff training

Sophia Warner,

Founder,

Traibal Series

Sophia Warner
Sophia Warner

Tribal Series launched last year, with the backing of Sportsworld, to provide the first mass-participation disability sports events dedicated to the UK’s disabled population. The inaugural event, a Para Tri, took place last August and four more are planned for this year: a Para Run/Push (fun run/wheelchair race), a Para Swim and two Para Tris. We’re aiming for 5,000 participants across the four events, and each year we hope to add more – and more varied – events to the calendar.

There simply aren’t enough opportunities out there for disabled people who want to take part in sport just for fun. While event operators are great at letting disabled people get involved, the cut-off times and equipment restrictions create unintentional barriers. Our series has no cut-off times and participants can use flippers, floats, electric and day wheelchairs, adapted cycles and other aids where needed.

Tribal Series is fundamentally about getting out there, getting active and having fun. We encourage participants to compete against themselves – everyone has a chip timer, so they know what they have to beat next time. It’s the first series that allows the UK’s disabled community to come together, compete and have fun on a dedicated playing field.

We hope health clubs will encourage their members to use our events as inspiring goals to work towards, and we’d love to work in partnership with a health club chain to drive sports participation among disabled people.

In addition, our relays allow disabled and non-disabled teams to face the challenge together, as long as there’s at least one person with a disability per team. This is a really great way to encourage integration and camaraderie between health and fitness club members.

"Our relays allow disabled and non-disabled teams
to face the
challenge together "

Tribal Series aims to help disabled people take part in sport just for fun
Tribal Series aims to help disabled people take part in sport just for fun

John Harling,

Facility manager,

Portway Lifestyle Centre

John Harling
John Harling

The Portway Lifestyle Centre, run by Sandwell Leisure Trust, is a purpose-built leisure facility that opened in September 2013 and that incorporates a GP practice. During the planning phase we consulted with local disability groups, individuals with disabilities and a planning team on the design, access and activities, to ensure we were best supporting users with disabilities. As a result, we’ve just received a top-level accreditation from the IFI (Inclusive Fitness Initiative).

Facilities include a 115-station gym with a wide range of adapted equipment; a fully accessible, and very popular, 10m climbing wall; a 10m hydrotherapy pool; and a speciality sensory room.

We use different signs, colours, surface textures and technology to support users in getting around the centre as independently as possible. There are hearing induction loop systems, braille signs and a Wayfinding audible navigation tool, as well as easy access ramps and walkways with tactile paving and handrails.

The centre is also a Changing Places facility, so it has a changing bench and hoist. Added to this, all the staff have received disability awareness training to provide the best customer service.

During 2014/15, we received more than 45,000 disabled visits. This has been achieved by offering free weekday access to disability groups and individuals with a pass. We’ve also partnered with Sandwell Visually Impaired, and run a buddy system with volunteers providing sighted support. Additionally, we work closely with the disability development officer at Adult Services.

"We use different signs, colours, surface textures and technology to support users in getting around the centre independently"

Portway’s buddy system offers support for the visually impaired
Portway’s buddy system offers support for the visually impaired

Vicki Bainsfair,

Health and wellbeing manager,

YMCA, Romford

Vicki Bainsfair
Vicki Bainsfair

Being inclusive is part of our mission to transform the communities in which we work, enabling more young people to belong, contribute and thrive.

We worked with the Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) to make our facility accessible, and now 25 per cent of our machines are accessible and IFI-accredited, while 12 of our 100 group exercise classes are specifically designed for those people with additional needs.

Many of our frontline staff have been trained to a level that gives them an understanding of how to interact with people with additional needs, and they’re willing to go that extra mile to assist. Our fitness staff also have additional qualifications to deliver sessions directly to those with additional or specific needs, such as stroke rehabilitation, cancer referral and GP referral.

Operators shouldn’t shy away from being inclusive. Speak to the clients you’re trying to reach and don’t be frightened of getting it wrong. Doing nothing is worse than using the wrong language or signage.

Bainsfair: ‘Operators shouldn’t shy away from being inclusive’
Bainsfair: ‘Operators shouldn’t shy away from being inclusive’
Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Legend’s smartphone app means people have access to the system wherever they are / shutterstock
Legend’s smartphone app means people have access to the system wherever they are / shutterstock
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/HCM2016_3inclusive.jpg
Many operators struggle to cater for disabled users – but there are some wonderful examples of best practice out there. We report
Aspire Leisure Centre GLL Traibal Series Portway Lifestyle Centre Romford YMCA,health clubs, disabled people, operators,
Latest News
Planet Fitness has become the subject of a hate campaign by certain groups of consumers ...
Latest News
Recovery, social wellness and longevity were talking points at PerformX recently, tipped by many speakers ...
Latest News
Industry experts are gathering in Cologne for today's European Health & Fitness Forum (EHFF), followed ...
Latest News
Jason Worthy has been appointed group CEO of Myzone to lead the 'next stage of ...
Latest News
John Kersh has announced he is leaving boutique franchisor, Xponential Fitness, after eight years with ...
Latest News
Oxygen Consulting is about to launch its first UK Padel Report, which investigates this fast-growing ...
Latest News
Global publishing outfit, Leisure Media, has announced details of its new annual conference for decision-makers ...
Latest News
Portugese footballer, Cristiano Ronaldo, has launched a health and wellness app that harmonises advice on ...
Latest News
Disturbing new research has found BMI completely fails as an accurate measure of obesity in ...
Latest News
A new urban city centre in Gothenburg, Sweden is in development with the aim of ...
Latest News
The first annual Private Sector Benchmarking report was released today (27 March). A collaboration between ...
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Study Active acquires Premier Global name and select branding assets
Study Active has legally acquired the name “Premier Global” and select Premier Global branding assets from Assessment Technologies Institute LLC, part of Ascend Learning in the US.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Sibec EMEA to blend fitness with luxury at Fairmont Monte Carlo
Experience the pinnacle of fitness and luxury at the premier industry event, Sibec EMEA, set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Fairmont Monte Carlo this Autumn.
Company profiles
Company profile: Alliance Leisure
The company’s core business is the provision of facility development and support for local authorities, ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Perfect Gym Solutions S.A.
Perfect Gym is a global software provider specialising in fitness and recreation facility management solutions. ...
Supplier Showcase
Supplier showcase - Jon Williams
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Featured press releases
Greenwich Leisure Limited press release: ‘Better’ managers get a ‘taste’ for volunteering
The management team from ‘Better’ leisure centres in the Lewisham area is looking for local projects that need a helping hand.
Featured press releases
KeepMe press release: Gymnation appoints Keepme CEO Ian Mullane to board of directors
The fastest growing gym chain based out of the GCC has appointed Keepme’s CEO, Ian Mullane to its board of directors.
Directory
Snowroom
TechnoAlpin SpA: Snowroom
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Lockers
Fitlockers: Lockers
Cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Cryotherapy
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
salt therapy products
Saltability: salt therapy products
Property & Tenders
Loughton, IG10
Knight Frank
Property & Tenders
Grantham, Leicestershire
Belvoir Castle
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
11-14 Apr 2024
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
22-24 Apr 2024
Galgorm Resort, York,
Diary dates
10-12 May 2024
China Import & Export Fair Complex, Guangzhou, China
Diary dates
23-24 May 2024
Large Hall of the Chamber of Commerce (Erbprinzenpalais), Wiesbaden, Germany
Diary dates
30 May - 02 Jun 2024
Rimini Exhibition Center, Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
08-08 Jun 2024
Worldwide, Various,
Diary dates
11-13 Jun 2024
Raffles City Convention Centre, Singapore, Singapore
Diary dates
12-13 Jun 2024
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
03-05 Sep 2024
IMPACT Exhibition Center, Bangkok, Thailand
Diary dates
19-19 Sep 2024
The Salil Hotel Riverside - Bangkok, Bangkok 10120, Thailand
Diary dates
01-04 Oct 2024
REVĪVŌ Wellness Resort Nusa Dua Bali, Kabupaten Badung, Indonesia
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
Search news, features & products:
Find a supplier:
The Leisure Media Company Ltd
The Leisure Media Company Ltd
Partner sites