23 May 2018 | Digital editions, magazines, websites, e-zines, handbooks and contract publishing for the leisure industry

Leisure Opportunities issue 736, 2018 is now out!

Blogs:

Read blogs by writer:

Liz Terry
CEO,
Leisure Media

Kate Cracknell
editor-at-large,
Health Club Management

Tom Walker
Journalist,
Leisure Media

Our guest writers:

Aleatha Ezra
Director of park member development,
World Waterpark Association

Jennifer Fields
Communications Coordinator,
Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Brad Irwin
Partnerships development manager,
Natural History Museum

Michel Buchel
President of Ecsite and CEO of NEMO, Amsetrdan,
NEMO

Julie Becker
Communications and Events Manager,
Ecsite

Eva McDiarmid
Chief Executive,
ASVA

Kurt Janson
Policy Director,
Tourism Alliance

Peter Ducker
Chief executive,
Institute of Hospitality

Maria Zolotonosa
Project Manager,
Ecsite

Ian Taylor
CEO,
SkillsActive

Ufi Ibrahim
Chief Executive,
British Hospitality Association

John Goodbody
Sports Journalist

Sam Coulstock
Customer Relationship Director,
Springboard

Lucy Schweingruber
Fundraising and Events Manager,
Ecsite

View all guest writers

Working alongside GPs

01 Apr 2015
by Kate Cracknell, editor-at-large, Health Club Management
Research shows that 64 per cent of people would exercise if they were recommended to do so by their GP

Recent Ipsos MORI research has revealed that 57 per cent of people in the UK would ask a doctor, GP or nurse for health advice, but only 1 per cent would turn to a gym or personal trainer. That’s disappointing given that 13 per cent of the UK population are members of a gym – people who ostensibly have bought into the whole notion of the gym as a place to improve their health. So what more can we do to establish our credentials, not just as a place to work out but as a credible health partner?

For starters, it makes sense to recognise people’s natural instinct to turn to their doctor for health advice, seeing this as an opportunity rather than a challenge. If we can get more GPs recommending exercise, we move fitness into a far more compelling realm: research shows 64 per cent of people would exercise if recommended to do so by their GP (see Dr John Morgan’s comment on Health Club Management 2015 issue 4 page 28).

This will require education, says Morgan: “GPs are constantly receiving visits from pharmaceutical companies, but there isn’t an advocate for physical activity. If the health club industry could approach surgeries, presenting research and offering a pathway for patients, and following it up with outcomes such as blood pressure readings for those who go on to exercise, GPs may start to listen.”

ukactive is already making strides in this area with its Let’s Get Moving programme – now live in Luton and Bedfordshire – which sees a range of exercise professionals, from PTs to swimming instructors, placed in-house in GP surgeries. There to advise and signpost patients into whatever local activity options most appeal, there’s no immediate commercial incentive for gyms to get involved – but the scheme represents a significant long-term opportunity to build relationships with GPs, educate them about the benefits of exercise and perhaps, down the line, benefit from more active people wanting to join the gym. We should aim to place an exercise professional into every GP surgery.

Then there’s the latest initiative from payasUgym, which has given 8,000 London GPs access to free £5 passes to give out to patients. The chosen terminology raises questions: it has been positioned as exercise referral, a highly complex system for those with chronic health conditions that relies on the sort of solid data and expert support not all gyms can provide. However, if we view it instead as ‘exercise recommendation’ it can immediately be seen in a less controversial light. It may not be enough to encourage long-term behaviour change among a sedentary population, but we can’t change everything overnight. If this scheme succeeds in getting exercise onto just a few more GPs’ radar, it’s to be welcomed.

Last but not least, how operators position their offering is also key. As Pure Gym CEO Humphrey Cobbold says on Health Club Management 2015 issue 4 page 30: “At the moment we’re a place people go to do stuff, but I don’t see any reason why we can’t become a content and advisory brand, a source of counsel and guidance.” Gyms have a huge opportunity to offer health and lifestyle advice that goes way beyond the gym.



Tags: Health Club Management  health & fitness 

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