• 10Nov

    Reinventing The Wheel Part 1

    This past Thursday I opened up my news app to see the following headline


    Personal trainers in GP surgeries and job centres will tackle inactivity, say experts


    My first thought was “Yes! Finally!!”


    Then my brain slammed on the brakes “Hold up! Haven’t we been here before?” I was having a back to the future moment, my second in a fortnight


    And both connected.


    Let me explain


    A couple of weeks ago via Linkedin I located 2 of my fitness heroes (they will not like me saying this!) First I came across Fiona Hayes and she connected me to Debbie Lawrence.


    At the time we first met (1996) Fiona had written what would now be considered and ebook on periodisation of fitness programmes this then turned into a PC software called Assist. Fiona was the Chairperson for The Exercise Association. Together with Debbie they set about shaping the future of the health and fitness industry.


    In fact if you go to Waterstones or online at Amazon you will find quite a few books that they have published and that are still industry leading in their respective fields.


    So what’s that got to do with this announcement from UKActive?


    Both Debbie and Fiona realised that the nation was heading towards an obesity epidemic and something had to be done. The public needed help and they needed to get the word out that there were reliable Personal Trainers who could help them stay active.


    The Exercise Association with the government of the day and the NHS embarked on a 3 year campaign to get the nation fit and healthy. There was a full blow press campaign, billboards and TV ads.


    And a Register of Exercise Professionals


    A register that the public could view to find their nearest PT who could help them. Remember back then the internet was a relatively new thing in the home so this information may have proved hard for the public to view.


    In 1999, a year into this 3 year project the government decided to have a “bonfire of the quangos”. Haven’t we heard something like this before?


    The Sports Council stopped funding the Association who then became bankrupt. When everyone started picking on the Association’s carcass the Sports Council took control of the Register. Then the government got rid of the Sports Council (part of the bonfire) and the Register disappeared. It resurfaced in 2002 as “an independent, public register which recognises the qualifications and expertise of health-enhancing exercise instructors in the UK


    In fact, to this day those responsible for looking after the register do not recognise the work that both Debbie and Fiona did. They don’t even believe that there was a register before 2002.


    UKActive says Lack of exercise across society is thought to cost the UK economy £20bn per year. A coalition of health experts is calling for a personal trainer to be put in every doctor’s surgery and job centre to help tackle the UK’s physical inactivity problem.


    The Blueprint for an active Britain urges the government to take action across the NHS, social services, transport, workplaces and the built environment.


    A key recommendation is that every GP surgery should have access to a trained professional who can help patients work on their fitness and improve their cardio-respiratory and mental health. The physical activity professionals should become a key part of delivery in a similar way to how surgeries have access to physiotherapists.


    Everything that we wanted to achieve back in the day. So why didn’t it work then?


    Tomorrow I will tell you why it didn't work at the turn of the millennium and why it may not work now