Fitness and sport must be delivered as one, says 1Life chief Neil King
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Fitness and sport must be delivered as one, says 1Life chief Neil King

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local authority leisure operators must adopt a “more rounded approach” to delivering sport and leisure activities if they are to truly make an impact in a challenging marketplace.

That is the view of 1Life managing director Neil King, who says restraints on local authority budgets and pressure on overstretched health services mean leisure providers must no longer view Fitness, sport and health as separate entities. Instead, he says, they must be “delivered as one” to ensure effective outcomes for public health, driven by closer collaboration between leisure providers and key partners.

“It’s clear that the old goals of maximising fitness memberships and children's’ swimming lessons have become basic expectations and we know that leisure management companies must embrace the ‘now’ and aim higher,” King told Health Club Management.

“A key point from the government’s new Sports Strategy is that the delivery of sports and leisure needs to fit within a more-rounded approach. Fitness, sport and health are – from the local authority view – no longer separate entities, but delivered as one.”

King added that 1Life’s recent work in preparation for managing leisure in Milton Keynes has given him first-hand experience of the practicalities and challenges of fostering a joined-up strategy for the provision of physical activity.

The operator is working to establish ties with local Milton Keynes sports clubs, community engagement programmes, sporting events and the local health & wellbeing agenda, centred around the leisure facilities that it operates. A central tenet of this effort is 1Life’s hiring of a dedicated sport & physical activity manager, whose job will be to connect the pieces of the jigsaw and deliver a collaborative approach to health and wellbeing and sport and physical activity in the city.

King’s comments chime with those of sports minister Tracey Crouch, who last week told the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee that local authorities should continue to invest in physical activity in the face of budget cuts, as successful provision brings a wide range of benefits to the community in terms of physical and mental health, as well as social cohesion.

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Local authority leisure operators must adopt a “more rounded approach” to delivering sport and leisure activities if they are to truly make an impact in a challenging marketplace.
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