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Beyond the Talk - Translating Talk into Action

If you speak with anyone who has attended Elevate about their most enjoyable experiences, the panel discussions will undoubtedly be mentioned. These talks, guided by industry experts, present a unique opportunity to engage in discussions regarding the prominent issues within the health and physical activity sector. At Future Fit for Business, we saw an opportunity to move this enriching experience beyond the confines of a few short days in June, and so, after Elevate 2023, we introduced Beyond the Talk.

Selecting discussions, we felt were key to the future of the sector, we invited guests from across the industry to share their perspectives – looking for ways that we could translate the conversations into action. As Elevate 2024 rapidly approaches, we reflect upon season one of Beyond the Talk and the outcomes generated.


 Episode 1 – Inclusivity in Physical Activity, Health and Education

In our inaugural episode, we explored the issue of accessibility in the health and fitness industry and how inclusivity needs to be prioritised to make a difference, using the diverse personal and career experience of our panel to highlight that no matter what your role the physical activity sector, inclusivity needs to be at the heart of what you do.

With 22% of the UK population living with a disability, our panel discussed how the leisure and physical activity sector can we need to ask how to facilitate truly inclusive engagement in physical activity. The first step is acknowledging the unique nature of each disability; because every disability is different, it’s essential to remember that each individual is the authority on their experience. Therefore, to begin building engagement in fitness, knowledge needs to be placed in the hands of the disabled community, giving them the tools to learn which approaches are most effective for their individual needs. Providing this knowledge is the foundation of the work that Accessercise are doing and we’re proud to have announced our partnership with them last year, working together to amplify their voice and support their mission, to help break down barriers and change the way the disability community live active lifestyles.

Reflecting upon his own career during the episode, Future Fit Support Supervisor, Ben Sharman, felt his PT qualification had left him feeling unable to offer adequate support to a disabled person, an opinion echoed by a Future Fit industry survey which found that 86% of participants believed that most exercise professionals are not adequately trained to work with people with disabilities. Seeking to close this knowledge gap, we’ve worked with our partners at Accessercise to not only embed learning on training people with disabilities into all of our PT courses, but to co-produce CPD courses to empower health and fitness professionals to support every client. The first of these, the Level 3 Award in Designing Exercise Programmes for Disabled Clients, aims to equip health and fitness professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to work effectively with clients who have visible or physical disabilities. Through examination of the physiological, biomechanical, psycho-social, and legislative aspects of exercise and disability, it ensures staff feel confident in supporting the needs of clients with disabilities.


 Episode 2- Industry Leadership: Navigating Tomorrow’s Activity & Wellness Landscape

The Sport England Future of Public Sector Leisure report reinforced the importance of moving the positioning of the physical activity industry so that it’s capable of supporting the delivery of key local priorities when it comes to public health. Elevate discussions emphasised the clear need to develop leaders within the public leisure sector, and we assembled a panel of industry experts to find ways to move this conversation forwards, broadening diversity and honing the skills of those already playing a leadership role.

We’ve already driven progress in this area, recognising that the move from the traditional view of our industry remit has shifted so massively that it requires effective leadership to make that shift work. We’ve worked with GM Active to develop the ground-breaking Transformational Leadership Programme, building knowledge of effective systems leadership and creating leaders, such as Jack Murphy, Prehab4Cancer Programme Manager, capable of shaping the future of our sector.

As Stuart Liversedge, Head of Operations and Customer Experience at Active IQ stressed during the talk, the future potential of the physical activity sector can only be reached by creating change, using learning and development to professionalise and develop successful managers and leaders at all levels. That’s why, together with Active IQ we’ve developed a suite of management qualifications, providing the education we as a sector need to attract, retain, and upskill the best employees, enhancing our reputation within the wider public health workforce.


Episode 3 – Bridging the Gap: Integrating Intrinsic Biomechanics into PT Practices

In episode three, we delved deeper into the skills required for Personal Trainers to expand beyond their traditional remit and support the Pivot to Active Wellbeing. The focus of Biomechanics Education on quality of movement means that its principles are more easily translated into supporting the 85% of people that don’t attend a gym; older adults, people living with LTHC or recovering from injury.

As a qualified Biomechanics Coach, there’s no-one better placed to extol the benefits of developing a deeper knowledge of intrinsic biomechanics than Martyn Oakey. As Head of Fitness at Everlast Gyms, his career exemplifies the importance of diversifying the traditional skillset of a Personal Trainer, continually learning and expanding provision.

Over the last year, we’ve worked to get more learners than ever training as Biomechanics Coaches, plus we’ve released a Level 4 Strength and Conditioning qualification and built new training to support women’s health and the ageing pathway through iCareiMove, ensuring that health and fitness professionals are empowered to support the health of the 85%. We’re also working on developing a new introductory course to acquaint a new audience with the possibilities that this additional knowledge can provide.


Episode 4 – From Recruitment to Retention: How to build a Strong Team of PTs

The final episode of season one of Beyond the Talk looked at how to attract and retain the best Personal Trainers. With both retention and training standards an ongoing issue within the sector, it was vital that our panel of experts continued this discussion, enabling the creation of next steps to support these problems.

As a training provider, we’re continually looking for ways to develop best-in-class education that creates health and fitness professionals ready to hit the ground running in their new careers, but we recognise that like in all jobs, the initial immersion into a role can be a vastly different experience from the learning itself. We’re proud to have worked with Total Fitness in developing a bespoke onboarding process that supports their employees from the recruitment process, through their first ninety days in-role and beyond. Utilising Flex, our custom-built LMS to provide training, and ProZone to continue education through on-the-go microlearning we’ve co-designed a solution for Total Fitness that was transformed their PT recruitment and retention.

Recognising that building resilient and dedicated PTs requires constant progression, our Education Project Specialist, Paul Swainson, will once again be taking to the stage at Elevate 2024 to discuss PT 4.0, and how we can enable the next evolution of health professionals.

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