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ON THE COVER: Comic Relief celebrity fundraiser Helen Skelton


EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT...


GYM FLOOR SKILL SETS


Do we even need qualifi ed fi tness people on our gym fl oors? Follow us on twitter @healthclubmag health club www.healthclubmanagement.co.uk management MARCH 2013 No 200 IN RESIDENCE


Tapping into the growing residential gym sector


CHUCK RUNYON


The CEO and co-founder of Anytime Fitness outlines plans for new markets and new ventures


Let’s be clear


The fitness sector has, as yet, failed to cement a clear idea in people’s minds of how much and how often they should be exercising, and what sort of activity they should do. In spite of numerous attempts to offer guidelines to the general


public, the question still pops up in the media on a regular basis – often without any significant new findings to spark the debate. In the first couple of weeks of February alone, the topic was raised in titles from The Express (‘Get in shape with just two minutes of exercise a day’) and the Daily Mail (‘Long periods of gentle exercise are more beneficial than a high-intensity workout’) to the Guardian (‘Should I exercise harder, but in shorter bursts?’). Meanwhile in the US, the Huffington Post investigated the 10-minute workout, while The New York Times online explained “why four workouts a week may be better than six”. So what are we to make of all this, other than the fact that the myriad messages will be confusing the


consumer no end – running the risk that people will be unclear on what exercise they need to do, and consequently may not hit minimum activity requirements for a healthy lifestyle. They may even use their confusion as an excuse not to exercise at all. Ultimately fitness is very specific to the


The fi tness sector must offer guidance on being active generally, redefi ning its role as the hub and catalyst at the centre of a healthy lifestyle – with a clear, consistent message rooted in fact not fad


individual as well as to the desired outcome, as our recent feature on exercise non- responders outlined (see HCM Feb 13, p58): even those who see little or no improvement in one area, such as VO2


max, will generally


be able to improve other key measures through exercise. One size does not fit all, and the ever-changing generalisations in the media are likely to be counter-productive. The fitness sector therefore has an


important balance to strike. We need specificity at an individual level, ensuring every


member has the correct programme to get the results they want. But this should be counterbalanced with simple, ‘back to basics’ messages for a mass audience: reiterating the CMO guidelines, for example (150 minutes of moderate activity a week, broken down however people choose), perhaps complemented by some fundamental truths of exercise, such as the fact you’ll get quicker results with more intense exercise. As part of this, the fitness sector needs to continue its drive to take ownership of members’ activity


outside of the gym, appreciating that not all 150 minutes will take place within its facilities. Indeed, new research suggests it may even be preferable if exercise isn’t all formalised. The aforementioned New York Times article – outlining the findings of a study published last month in the journal Exercise & Science in Sports & Medicine – explained that, while the women who exercised twice or four times a week saw an increase in energy expenditure, those exercising six times a week actually expended “considerably less” energy on a daily basis by the end of the experiment. Although not fatigued by their workouts, they felt time-pressured by the exercise commitment and, as a result, tended to make choices outside of the gym such as driving instead of walking, or taking the elevator not the stairs. The fitness sector must offer guidance on being active generally, redefining its role as the hub and catalyst at the centre of a 24-hour healthy lifestyle. At the heart of this must be a clear, consistent message rooted in fact not fad – a message that’s unswayed by the flurry of conflicting reports – so consumers know they can come to us for sound advice.


Kate Cracknell, editor – katecracknell@leisuremedia.com / twitter: @HealthClubKate To share your thoughts on this topic, visit www.healthclubmanagement.co.uk/blog


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INTERVIEW


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