David Lloyd Clubs has announced that it is to become the first company of its kind to commit to having a Fitness Trainer aged 55 or over in every one of its clubs on average.
The move, to be completed by the end of 2022, is designed to offer older people support and expertise from fitness professionals that they can more easily relate to, to help them feel more at ease in an exercise environment and inspire them to be more active, more often.
This commitment follows the recommendations of Public Health England and UKActive, who revealed that the older age groups feel more self-conscious when exercising in public and workout less often than other age groups.
Indeed, 14% of over 55s don’t exercise at all, while 22% consider themselves ‘not very active’.
Unfortunately, a lack of proper exercise among the older generations can lead to preventable health problems and add a significant burden to an already under-pressure NHS.
Alongside the commitment, David Lloyd Clubs is introducing a training programme that will empower all of its fitness teams to deliver industry-leading support to its older members, including how to develop confidence and motivation, fitness and nutrition and advice, and how to create individual training programmes to suit specific needs.
As of Spring 2019, over 18% of the membership base of David Lloyd Clubs was aged over-55, a figure which has grown by 10% in the last 12 months alone, reflecting the health and fitness group’s expertise in the this market.
To ensure that it is skilled and resourced to support this growing member group, and to coincide with its nationwide commitment to recruit older Fitness Trainers, David Lloyd Clubs has produced The Age of Activity: a report that looks at the attitudes of the over-55s toward exercise and fitness, combining original research with personal stories and the insights of experts.
Its research revealed that while a good number of those aged over 55 would consider themselves active, the type of exercise that 84% of respondents take part in is walking, followed by swimming (32%), cycling (19%) and hiking (16%).
Whereas, the activities that are rigorous enough to combat the kinds of health issues that become more common as people grow older, such as HIIT, Pilates, running, squash or boxing, are only popular amongst less than 10%.
As it stands, 12% of over 55s would not consider working with a personal trainer because they feel like ‘personal trainers are too young to understand’ their needs, and nearly a third are put off from working out because they don’t feel confident in their abilities.
Jon Kohn, head of commercial fitness at David Lloyd Clubs, said of the commitment: “At David Lloyd Clubs our ethos is to provide an environment where everyone of all ages feel welcome and inspired. Our more mature members have told us that having older fitness trainers in our clubs will help them more readily embrace exercise.
We have responded to our members and ukactive and Public Health England’s call by committing to a fitness trainer aged 55 or over at each of our clubs on average by the end of 2022, as well as training a world-class workforce of all ages with the skills to engage and support older people.
This recommendation was made in part to help ease mounting pressures on the NHS, and we’re delighted to be the first organisation of our kind to put that recommendation into practice. We hope the rest of the fitness and wellbeing industry follows suit, making sure that our promise becomes everyone’s promise.”
Sir Muir Gray, former Chief Knowledge Officer of the NHS, who leads most of ukactive’s work within the ageing space and who fronted the Reimaging Ageing campaign that inspired David Lloyd Clubs’ commitment, commented: “Ageing by itself isn’t a major cause of problems until people reach their mid-90s. The loss of function and resilience that we have assumed to be the result of growing older can in fact be influenced principally by activity: physical, mental and social.
“We can reverse the decline in health so often associated with growing older, and increase ability, by closing the fitness gap: the best possible rate of decline in our health versus the actual decline many of us experience. Increased fitness can achieve this at any age and no matter how many long-term conditions the person has. This is why programmes such as these are so important, and it’s great that David Lloyd Clubs is leading the way.”
Acting CEO Huw Edwards of ukactive, which commissioned the original report, Reimagining Ageing, said: “Our Reimagining Ageing report called for older people to train as Fitness Trainers, making it easier for people to relate to their instructor and demonstrate that physical activity works for all ages, shapes and sizes.
“What we found was a huge appetite among older people to take up these roles, and we are delighted that David Lloyd Clubs is offering these individuals a pathway to working in fitness.
“We have a real opportunity to ensure fitness professionals are truly representative of the people they serve, so we’d love to see initiatives like this rolled out across the physical activity sector.
“This is one part of a broader push for the physical activity sector to engage older people better; not only is it vital to deliver healthier, longer lives and ease pressure on the NHS, but it’s also a huge market opportunity.”
The full report has been released today and can be read by visiting: www.davidlloyd.co.uk/active-ageing
People can apply via our website: https://careers.davidlloyd.co.uk/
Alternatively, to find out more about the initiative, visit www.davidlloyd.co.uk/active-ageing