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Exercise professionals 'under-skilled' for tackling inactivity: survey

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More than 55 per cent of UK fitness managers believe that exercise professionals are under-skilled for delivering social and psychological support to inactive people, according to the results of a new survey published by Central YMCA Qualifications.

The study was conducted by ukactive – surveying 1,200 exercise and management professionals – in an attempt to identify skills gaps in the active leisure sector.

Giving that the findings have shown a lack of confidence in the skills of some professionals when looking at support frameworks for the inactive, fitness and leisure employers have called for definitive career pathways to be established within the physical activity sector.

There have also been calls for a greater focus on counselling and motivational interviewing within training, to help the workforce cope with the growing number of inactive people in the UK.

Another statistic shows 33 per cent of employers feel communication skills are not sufficiently covered by existing vocational training, while concerns were also raised at the ease at which young exercise professionals can enter the sector with minimal education or without a career development plan.

“This is about developing training pathways that ultimately deliver professionals who are equipped to provide the spectrum of services required to effectively engage the most sedentary members of the community,” said David Stalker, CEO at ukactive.

“These are people for whom there are often deep-seated psychological and social barriers to embarking on an exercise programme. Up-skilling our professionals to be able to deal with this is not only a critical investment in the long term health of the nation, it is vital for the long term sustainability of the sector.”

The research comes as Stalker declared yesterday (1 October) at Leisure Industry Week that the physical activity sector must take action if it is to become a key component in the nation’s public health strategy, with his keynote speech setting out five key areas that are in need of improvement, with training among them.

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More than 55 per cent of UK fitness managers believe that exercise professionals are under-skilled for delivering social and psychological support to inactive people, according to the results of a new survey published by Central YMCA Qualifications.
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The survey was conducted with 1,200 exercise and management professionals / Shutterstock.com/ruigsantos
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