Is the Future of the Fitness Industry a Holistic Approach?

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This blog was written in partnership with Anthony Crozier MSc (Health and Wellbeing Specialist at Future Fit Training). Anthony has over 20 years of experience in community and clinical exercise provision as a rehabilitation practitioner with the NHS, various local authorities, and the private sector.

As the fitness industry continues to develop and adapt to new challenges, especially from the Covid 19 pandemic, trainers and fitness professions need to keep up to date with the latest training opportunities. Being able to shift from fitness to a more holistic wellness-based training will help set your training up for success, and help you diversify into new areas in the community. With the launch of our School of Health, we have made this learning experience easier, providing you with a range of CPD courses to help expand your knowledge base and work with clients who need an extra boost hitting their fitness goals.

As fitness professionals we are all aware that inactivity is a major factor in the development of chronic disease, often made worse by our increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Globally, these behaviours are occurring against a backdrop of an ageing population. Although we know that people are living longer
now than they were decades ago, we also know that they are experiencing more years of physical, social, and mental decline, compromising their quality of life.
There is, however, strong evidence that physical activity and exercise are effective for the management of ageing and the wide range of chronic and complex medical conditions that affect the population. Moreover, both the NHS Long Term Plan (2019) and the Centre for Ageing Better (2020) recognise that exercise for people with chronic medical conditions is essential in the prevention and management of chronic diseases.
Healthcare professionals cannot manage the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic alone. It is essential that the fitness industry provides meaningful qualifications aiming to upskill those in the fitness industry who want to work within a health remit and specialise in community care provision. The Fitness Industry – a Mutating Concept?
In recent times (especially since the pandemic) the fitness industry has seen a shift in focus towards healthcare, e.g., wellness, wellbeing, purpose, and resilience. The traditional fitness professionals’ scope of practice is widening to include thinking less about those who are already `fit` and more about those who require support to become `healthy`.
We will be needed to assist in helping others manage medical conditions. This is a skill that can make a real difference in the lives of those who are not avid gym-goers and who need that extra support.
The space for older individuals and/or those with chronic diseases is slightly different, often involving health professionals (e.g., G.P.s and clinicians) advising people to begin or to do more physical activity or exercise (e.g., Moving Healthcare Professionals Programme or Exercise referral schemes). Either way, bringing fitness, health, wellness, and variations of sport under one roof shows a clear way forward for the industry to support the ever-changing health needs of the masses.

The School of Health – a Unique Necessity
The fitness industry requires further recognition that it can be part of the healthcare solution. This can only happen if we embrace this change in direction and empower the workforce within it to obtain the knowledge required. As we move into a health-focused sector, the stereotypical skill set of a personal trainer needs to evolve.

Fitness professionals need to be aware of the fundamental skills required to work within this new landscape. These skills will focus on:
• Healthy conversations and behaviour change
• Chronic disease and deconditioning management
• Increasing resilience and purpose in older populations
• Mental and social wellbeing concepts
• Community liaison and integration
• Support service awareness and signposting
• To name a few!

Health is holistic

The training and education we provide to our workforce, therefore, needs to reflect this. We cannot consider health and fitness as being institutional (e.g., gym-based) concepts.

To Conclude
The release of the School of Health is the first time our `fitness` sector has attempted to branch out and support those in healthcare fields. We can bridge the gap between theory and practical learning in areas that will make a difference in societal needs. This does not mean that exercise prescription is no longer the main service that we offer, but it may mean we have a diverse range of skills to better support each person we come into contact with in the future. There may even become a time whereby gym instructor and personal trainer qualifications are no longer the main pathways into fitness/exercise professional roles…but that`s one for another blog so watch this space!”
If you want to know more about the courses that Future Fit offer as part of the School of Health, visit the webpage here.

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