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SIBEC UK REVIEW Ask the EXPERTS


What’s the impact of technology on our sector, how geared up are we to deal with nutrition, and how do we retain good staff? We round up some of the highlights from ‘Question Time’ at this year’s SIBEC UK


Photo from left to right: David McLean, SIBEC UK panel chair Steven Ward, Sandra Dodd, Graeme Hinde and Justin Musgrove


T


he Belfry Golf Resort and Spa was the setting for this year’s SIBEC UK, which saw a record number of operators and


suppliers attending. Over half of the buyers were new to the event. Setting the scene ahead of two days


of intense business networking and face- to-face meetings, it was standing room only for the well-established industry debate. Chaired by ukactive executive director Steven Ward (SW), the panel comprised Justin Musgrove, MD at The Bannatyne Group (JM); David McL ean, fitness manager at Edinburgh


Leisure (DM); Sandra Dodd, CEO at Places for People Leisure (SD); and Graeme Hinde, MD of Leisure and Fitness Exchange (GH). We give a snapshot of some of the discussions….


SW – Recent media reports have


suggested there’s no link between exercise and weight reduction – something that could have serious implications for our sector. But does it also provide us with an opportunity to redefine ourselves?


GH – When people start to exercise


regularly, everything else follows – including better eating. It’s too simplistic to say you can’t outrun a bad diet. It’s


about starting people on a journey. The more they enjoy exercise, the better they’ll eat and behave generally.


SW to SD – How does this factor


into the marketing strategy at Places for People Leisure?


SD – Our goal is making people


healthier and happier. A happier, less stressed person is more inclined to eat a healthy diet. In terms of our marketing, it’s much more about encouraging a healthy lifestyle than losing weight.


SW to DM – How prepared is the


frontline of our workforce to deal with questions of nutrition?


DM – It’s clear that, in terms of


nutrition advice, there’s no ‘one size fits all’. We’re working with our frontline staff to train them in behaviour change and to develop their questioning skills.


JM – It’s about getting the full offer


right, and that includes three elements: physical activity, nutrition and mental wellbeing. We’re definitely not in the right place at the moment, but the way in which we operate is changing. For the press to spread the message that exercise won’t help with weight loss


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


Chris Dickson, West Lothian Leisure (from the floor) – We get shot at by the media, but we don’t do a lot to help. We know that 61 per cent of the population don’t meet the current physical activity guidelines, yet when people come into our clubs, PTs give standard guidance which at the moment includes intensive workouts like HIIT. We’re just taking the inactive person from the couch to the gym and sending them straight back to the couch.


SD – It used to be about telling people


what to do, but we need to ensure that our instructors understand it’s now much more about considering how the facilities and services we offer can work for our members, and how exercise and activity (both in sites and outside) can fit with their lifestyle.


JM – I feel we need to go back to


basics. What are we offering in our café/bars? What level of training do we provide to people on the gym floor? Do we consider how we can improve the mental wellbeing of people?


July 2015 © Cybertrek 2015


is absurd. That said, we do need to look at how we market our offering. If we’re in the health sector, we need to get the messaging right across the business.


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