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TALKBACK everyone’s talking about . . .

change4life T

he intentions of Change4Life were good: a friendly advertising campaign to encourage the least healthy

in society to move more. But it cost a lot of money and, just as it reached 87 per cent brand recognition, it’s being scaled back by the coalition government. Will this negate the efforts and render the £75m spent on it to date a waste of money? Or will it act as a springboard for better things? According to the FIA, Change4Life

and other related initiatives did have some tangible results. One year on, more than 413,466 people had joined the Change4Life movement: double the

jon johnston matrix fitness systems • managing director

action, not adverts, are needed if we are to halt our slide into inactivity, obesity and the health-related issues. The majority of people are probably


well aware of the link between nutrition and general wellbeing and, while the reinforcement of this message has been

important, the main issue is that people still don’t do it. The cessation of the Change4Life programme will have

some effect on the general attitude and motivation of the population, but hopefully the vacuum created in the aftermath will stimulate some debate and perhaps a joined-up effort – one that is more pragmatic and effective. While the government should be applauded for making

an effort to inform the population, greater emphasis should perhaps have been placed on legislation to enforce change. I believe incentives would be more effective than advertising, such as eliminating tax on home exercise equipment and gym memberships, and incentives to companies to operate corporate fitness schemes. Longer-term, we need organisational support for fitness within business and local government.

lthough Change4Life wasn’t a waste of money, definitive

kath hudson • journalist • health club management

A whopping £75m went into the Change4Life campaign. Did this have the desired results, or did it turn out to be a waste of money? With the budget scaled back, what will happen now?

target. Meanwhile MoreActive4Life, the national consumer campaign developed by the FIA and delivered by more than 1,000 FIA members nationwide, achieved over 200,000 sign-ups; on average, every participating site received more than 200 referrals. It would certainly seem to have played a part in the 1 per cent growth of the UK industry last year, which bucked the downward global trend. Speaking in July, the health secretary

Andrew Lansley said he was impressed by the achievements of Change4Life, but that he wanted a new approach: “We have to make Change4Life less a government campaign and more a social movement. Less paid for by

government, more backed by business. Less about costly advertising, more about supporting family and individual responses.” He confi rmed that government funding will be scaled back and that charities, the commercial sector and local authorities will be asked to stump up cash instead. This approach might work: Harry

MacMillan, CEO of MEND, points out that dynamic partnerships are already emerging which our sector can get behind, such as the six-week More Active Health Programme, devised by nutrition and psychology experts and delivered by PTs. But what’s the broader verdict on the value of Change4Life to date?


david stalker fitness industry association • chief executive


hange4Life was a great start. It was the first time the

government had invested in a large- scale wellbeing and obesity prevention strategy, in line with our vision as an industry. The core message embedded in the campaign – move more – and the £75m social marketing spend raised awareness of the benefits of an active

lifestyle. However, there were limitations when it came to the depth in which it reached into the communities to affect behavioural change in those who need it most. Through initiatives like MoreActive4Life and Let’s Dance,

we’ve demonstrated that, by working together, we can take a proposition like Change4Life and turn it into a strategy that delivers on every high street. Scaling it back will inevitably mean a loss in momentum and it’s likely Change4Life will struggle to maintain its 87 per cent brand awareness. The good work initiated needs to be sustained and integrated for a long-term effect to really take place. On a positive note, it could create a real opportunity for our industry to take ownership and work together to meet the long-term goals, through initiatives like working with commercial partners and Business4Life.

” 22 Read Health Club Management online october 2010 © cybertrek 2010

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