Fitness sector recruits entering industry with "unrealistic expectations"
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Fitness sector recruits entering industry with "unrealistic expectations"

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A huge majority – 87 per cent – of fitness professionals working in the physical activity industry think new recruits are entering the sector with "unrealistic expectations".

The revelation is among the findings of the latest Raising the Bar Report 2018 published by Future Fit Training, which surveyed the breadth of the ukactive membership and interviewed a number of executives and managers within the physical activity industry.

This year's report explores five major themes – training standards, skills gaps, the work readiness of fitness professionals, working with young people and the sector's engagement with disabled people.

Among the findings is that the active leisure industry is "ready for change, willing to support the government’s drive towards a healthier nation" and that there is a determination within the sector to raise the standard of skills across its workforce.


Recruiting and retaining high-quality fitness staff continues to be a consistent and recurring challenge faced by employers in sector. More than 80 per cent of respondents indicated it was not a process they found easy – and not one employer indicated that it was a process they found ‘very easy.’

As well as dealing with unrealistic expectations, issues encountered by managers when looking to recruit fitness staff were candidates lacking the skills required to be successful (78 per cent of respondents) and candidates lacking any gym floor experience (70 per cent).

As for the skills gaps within the workforce, the lack of commercial acumen (78 per cent), lack of social skills (74 per cent) and behaviour change skills (74 per cent) were the ones cited most by respondents.

"Previous ukactive research has suggested that unrealistic expectations are one of the most powerful drivers of low staff retention," the report states.

"This in turn compounds the impact of the skills gaps by not allowing adequate time on the gym floor for professionals to develop themselves organically."

Improving standards

The report shows universal support for CIMSPA, with 100 per cent of respondents believing its professional standards will have a positive impact on raising the quality of personal trainers entering the industry.

"The publication of the CIMSPA Professional Standard for Personal Trainers represents a watershed moment for the physical activity sector," the report says.

"It is the next chapter of the industry-wide movement that brought together employers, training providers and awarding organisations, under the banner of a new Chartered Institute, setting a new benchmark of what is expected of the physical activity workforce."

"Professionalisation of the workforce is a long-term mission that requires the buy-in of employers, suppliers, regulatory bodies and trade organisations. It will continue to be a core priority of the work across the breadth of the sector."

The report also offers insight into the way the industry accommodates disabled customers and the way it engages with young people – and how to improve both of these crucial segments. To download the full Raising the Bar Report 2018, click here.

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A huge majority – 87 per cent – of fitness professionals working in the physical activity industry think new recruits are entering the sector with "unrealistic expectations".
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