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IHRSA highlights role of fitness clubs in supporting all needs and abilities

IHRSA highlights role of fitness clubs in supporting all needs and abilities
January 2, 2019

With New Year’s fitness resolutions at hand, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) is reminding people of the many resources and year-round support that fitness clubs offer. Professional know-how, dependable guidance, and supportive community environments make fitness clubs welcoming spaces that empower people of diverse backgrounds, abilities, needs and life circumstances so they can more easily maintain healthier lifestyle habits throughout the year.

IHRSA’s Executive Vice President of Public Policy, Helen Durkin explains "fitness clubs are inherently community-focused.

“These are local businesses established by people with a passion for wellness and built on their desire to be supportive of every member who walks through their doors. Local community fitness clubs are all about helping people of all needs and abilities find the professional guidance, inviting space and community support they need for living more physically active lives.”

IHRSA research shows that many people succeed at sustaining good exercise habits throughout the year. In fact, the average length of a fitness club membership is well over five years, with most members visiting their club almost 100 times each year.

According to IHRSA, the key to making New Year’s resolutions stick is three-fold. It requires setting realistic goals, maintaining a positive attitude toward exercise, and building a support network to keep it going. Fitness clubs can help with all three.

The support and knowledge of trained professionals make building a well-balanced, enjoyable exercise routine easier. The camaraderie of fellow club members offers positive encouragement and makes time spent exercising more rewarding. Access to state-of-the-art equipment, a variety of classes, personal trainers and professional instructors keeps routines varied and interesting, while helping members set the right level of challenge for their individual needs. Fitness clubs also provide safe, comfortable spaces for exercising year-round, regardless of the weather. Above all, supportive fitness club environments and programs, structured for people of all ages, abilities and fitness levels, can be extremely motivational.

Community fitness clubs work hard to ensure welcoming, supportive environments for people of diverse backgrounds and abilities. As part of its commitment to inclusivity, IHRSA joined forces with the UNESCO Chair in Inclusive Physical Education, Sport, Recreation & Fitness, along with other partners, to create UFIT. UFIT stands for Universal Fitness Innovation & Transformation and is a global social change initiative that provides fitness industry professionals with the resources and training they need so they can offer more programming for people of all abilities. With support from the IHRSA Foundation, ACCESS Health: Inclusive Fitness pilot programs, using the UFIT model, are being implemented in a growing number of U.S. and Irish clubs.

These programs include special advanced training for personal trainers, as well as education for club staff and management, all designed to inspire structural and cultural changes so clubs can be more inclusive of all populations.

So far, UFIT has 16 champion clubs running the ACCESS Health: Inclusive Fitness program in the United States and Ireland. More are starting in Peru and elsewhere as it expands around the globe. UFIT has recognised nearly 60 additional clubs for their commitment to offering inclusive programming.

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