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The industry is not taking advantage of the market opportunities presented

swimming scheme. ‘Be Active, Be Healthy’ includes a clear commitment to active ageing, acknowledging that exercise can result in physical, mental and social benefi ts that can help reduce the risk of injury while simultaneously increasing independence among older people. The plan is intended to facilitate co-operation between councils and Primary Care Trusts, encouraging them to work together to encourage local people to become more physically active. Better health in later years is now seen

as a key priority for the government, which also recently published Building a

Society for all Ages. This “brings forward a

series of proposals to help instil a major cultural shift and help Britain prepare for demographic change which is seeing people live longer lives”. Included in the document is a call

to arms for our industry, with the observation that: “Physical activity decreases with age, and at the moment the fi tness industry is not taking full advantage of the market opportunities demographic change represents.” The FIA is, however, currently reviewing its strategy for older people. In its report,

Active Ageing and the Fitness Industry, it

reaffi rms support for the government’s agenda, commenting: “We are fully committed to driving this agenda and welcome the opportunity to support governmental and non-governmental stakeholders to get more older adults to be more active, more often.” The industry is also taking steps to

address reservations that older people may have about using a gym. Findings referenced in ‘Be Active, Be Healthy’ have identifi ed that older adults, who make up 28 per cent of the population, represent only 13.7 per cent of gym members. Meanwhile, only 5 per cent of retired people have a gym membership, whereas total population penetration averages out at 12–13 per cent.

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As BalanceMaster’s Hope explains:

“The older population represents an enormous potential market for our industry. However, a greater understanding of their abilities, needs and aspirations is necessary to ensure operators offer relevant and appropriate exercise opportunities.” Sarah Watts, MD of Alliance Leisure,

which works with local authorities and trusts, comments: “The older generation can be intimidated by a gym full of young people, so it’s our job to provide them with equipment and an arena in which to keep fi t and healthy that they feel comfortable with.” There are, Watts adds, a range of

concepts designed to attract new user groups, such as Alliance’s Feel Good Factory initiative with Shapemaster.

“The power-assisted equipment is an alternative for this target market and provides all the benefi ts of a regular exercise programme, covering all the major muscle groups,” she explains. “We will continue to investigate diverse

Keiser’s pneumatic equipment provides an effective method of increasing stability and mobility thanks to its consistent resistance

ways that operators can attract new users and target specifi c groups, in line with government recommendations such as ‘Active at 60’.”

current projects

The aforementioned Active at 60 package is currently at the consultation stage, but is intended to provide older people with information and advice detailing activities in their area to help them stay active and healthy. The package – which is likely to be

delivered by the Pensions Service – will seek to draw together information from national and local government and their partners to highlight the importance of maintaining good health in later life and to encourage higher levels of participation in physical activity.

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