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PLUS-SIZE GYMS


For some overweight people, going to a gym or exercise class is a daunting prospect. Kath Hudson talks to gym operators specifically targeting plus-size customers with a welcoming, tailored package


ABIG WELCOME I


n the US and the UK, 60 per cent of people are either overweight or obese. Obesity causes many health issues including some


cancers, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stress and depression. Some experts say obesity is responsible for more ill health than smoking. Although this is a hard market


for the fi tness industry to reach, we are now seeing concerted efforts


to meet the needs of overweight consumers. “The opening of gyms specifi c to plus-size people in the US is indicative of a wider change within the sector – a move towards adapting to the needs and demands of consumers and offering increasingly niche fi tness facilities and programmes,” says CEO of ukactive David Stalker. He continues: “A cultural shift has begun in the sector towards viewing


people in a holistic way, and looking at the causes of an individual being overweight rather than just treating the consequences. We need to continue to build on this, through further innovation and collaboration, to reach the large percentage of the population who remain inactive.” In the UK, we’re starting to see


a change in the sort of programmes being offered. LA Fitness has partnered with Weight Watchers to link physical activity and nutrition, for example, while Nuffi eld Health launched a comprehensive nutritional programme in January 2013 covering everything from digestive health, through blood sugar management, to energy and stress consultations. Groups such as Nordic Walking also tie up with local healthcare providers to deliver programmes for the management of obesity and related conditions. Meanwhile Curves and Gymophobics target their marketing at women who want to get more active, but who previously may not have felt comfortable using a gym. Complementing these efforts, the


ukactive Research Institute is currently working with fi tness centres across the country to build an evidence base for delivering physical activity counselling to people who may be overweight and suffering from chronic health problems, to help them make positive lifestyle changes. There’s also a rise in niche qualifi cations in areas such as weight management, nutrition and psychology. Many of the successful plus-size


“MANY OF THE SUCCESSFUL PLUS-SIZE OFFERINGS ARE RUN BY PEOPLE WHO HAVE SUCCESSFULLY LOST WEIGHT THEMSELVES”


38 Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital


Niche, plus-size programmes are on the rise


offerings are run by people who have successfully lost weight themselves, and so understand the challenges and the fears that overweight people have about entering gyms and starting to exercise. To cover fi tness alone is not enough; most providers also look at nutrition, and give counselling support too. Here we take a look at a selection of fi tness operations that have been designed specifi cally for overweight customers.


June 2013 © Cybertrek 2013


PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK/PETER BERNIK


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