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INTERVIEW


their area, of course, and we have a strong focus on our Glasgow Club brand through marketing and PR. We’re easily the biggest sports and fitness opera- tor in Glasgow, and therefore arguably enjoy greater visibility than other public sector operators might do in their re- spective catchment areas. “Being part of a large cultural


association also means we have the op- portunity to talk to customers using our libraries and arts centres, for example. Some libraries are actually incorporated into our leisure centres, but even where that’s not the case, we’re able to pool our resources to try and engage pro- spective new members. “We also do a lot of community


outreach work, including partnership projects with the NHS Health Board and the Glasgow Housing Association, for example. For me, if we’re going to take the sector beyond the 12 per cent penetration at which we’ve been stuck for years – if we really want to make a breakthrough to a wider population base – we need to do things very differ- ently, and partnerships will be one of the keys to that being a success. “Other sectors such as retail and


the media have experienced genuine revolution over recent years, but the physical activity sector is more or less doing things as it’s always done. What’s


going to be our revolution? I believe we could make a huge impact on the public health agenda, for example, but we’re currently only scratching the surface. “As a sector, we must think beyond


the bricks and mortar of our facilities. We can’t expect people to come to us: we have to take our offering to other locations in the community, going out to where the people we want to reach actually are. We have to use new tech- nology to move beyond our centres and into people’s everyday lives. Again, part- nership work is key.”


PARTNERSHIP PROGRAMMES Garrett continues: “We’ve established a very close partnership with the NHS Health Board, setting up programmes designed to help prevent disease and reduce the cost to the NHS of treat- ment further down the line. Initiatives include our GP referral scheme, our Vitality programme – classes that have been designed to be suitable for peo- ple with a range of physical abilities and medical conditions – and weight- loss scheme Shape Up, to name but a few. We deliver those within Glasgow, but we also help the NHS to deliver them to people outside of Glasgow. “Our GP referral programme is very


successful, with about 4,500 individu- als referred to us every year. A high


20 Read Sports Management online sportsmanagement.co.uk/digital


Reaching out to the grey market: Functional training at the Bellahouston club


percentage of those then convert to membership at the end of the scheme: we offer a discounted membership to encourage them to maintain their new, healthier lifestyle. When we launched the scheme, we visited every GP practice in the city – Glasgow Life and the NHS together, making a joint pitch to the GPs and the practice nurses – and we continue to work very closely with them. We’ve seen a significant uplift in the number of people being referred to us, including for mental health problems. “There’s still work to do at a national


level though, addressing the issue of QOF points, so GPs are recognised for referring to exercise, and ensuring the benefits of activity are incorporated into GP training in the first place. “We also have our ACES programme,


which works with about 26,000 children with serious obesity. As with our GP re- ferral programme, it’s entirely bespoke to each individual, and encompasses sport, activity, nutrition and counselling. And at the other end of the age range, we work with Glasgow Housing Associa- tion to offer programmes like Silver Deal Active – a range of easy exercise and arts classes for older residents which are


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