Thomas Rieger

Sport Management

5th International Standards Meeting - Report

The 2014 International Standards Meeting, supported by EuropeActive, was hosted by HealthCity in Amsterdam.
75 fitness industry experts representing 21 different countries came together on 14-15 October to intensively discuss standardisation and commercialisation of fitness standards. Roundtable workshops and keynote presentations were focused on strategies and tools to manage the balance between standardisation and commercialisation, so standards are not only recognised by those working within the sector, but also by the consumer. The 2014 programme followed recommendations from last years’ delegate evaluations with a format based on outcome, relevance and delegate satisfaction. The number of keynote sessions was increased as well as the interactive components. The main purpose of the meeting still remained, namely to use the outcomes of the different sessions as important guides to rethink and improve the current set of standards and to think about new future-oriented education in fitness and health. The meeting was flanked by little activation and exercise sessions due to the mission of the sector to get more people, more active, more often.
The importance of the fitness sector qualification framework, developed by EuropeActive, has not changed within the past twelve months, and it is still seen as the most extensive system worldwide by including employers, academics and industry stakeholders to the working processes and consultations.
The event was opened by René Moos, CEO of HealthCity, who expressed his pleasure on behalf of his company for having the opportunity to welcome such an international and renowned group of sector experts.
Prof Thomas Rieger (Chairman of EuropeActive’s Standards Council) introduced to the proceedings and emphasised the remarkable development of the event. Moreover, he highlighted the relevance of bridging the technical part of educational standards to the needs and wishes of the customers.
As in previous years, the delegate group was composed of representatives from higher education, vocational training and accreditation bodies. The programme contained two keynotes, three impulse presentations and four roundtable sessions.
Graham Melstrand, Vice President Corporate Affairs American Council on Exercise and Dr Brian Biagioli, Executive Director National Council on Strength & Fitness (both USA) clearly outlined in their presentation “Fitness: An Industry at a Crossroads” that it is essential to define meaningful standards for facilities and practitioners that address the concerns of other stakeholders and to strongly aim for recognition of exercise professionals and membership-based fitness facilities as credible providers of primary prevention programmes and services. Additionally, the industry needs scalable outcome-based programmes for members and non-members to address a variety of chronic health conditions. Finally, both speakers illustrated the necessity to enhance the education for primary care practitioners to increase their competence and confidence in physical activity and nutrition.
Dr Paul Bedford, retention guru and university lecturer, shared his comprehensive insights into the different areas of customer retention and its immense relevance for business success. Again a strong argument for understanding fitness and physical activity as a service industry!
Jan Middelkamp, CEO of HDD Group and EuropeActive Board Member, focused on practical strategies to support behaviour change towards exercise, nutrition and lifestyle. Among many other useful strategies based on various scientific theories, Jan strongly encouraged people to wear casual clothes as often as possible, as this psychologically leads to a higher level of activity.
Hille Meetsma, Co-founder of VitalinQ Healthy Lifestyle Support, emphatically recommended that fitness instructors should understand their business as lifestyle counselling in order to shape a healthier future for both the club and the individual.
The final impulse presentation held by Dr Francesco Bertiato from Technogym informed the audience about the main elements of the Technogym Educational System, which is an important part of the company’s mission to be an innovation driver.
The four roundtables included different topics, the importance of body appearance in the fitness industry, the strong need of educational standards for pre and post natal exercise, ideas of how to implement entertainment components for the EQF-level 3 standards for group fitness instructors, game changing innovations in the fitness industry and ways to create more credibility and evolvement in fitness credentials European vocational level.
Prof Rieger said “the two days in Amsterdam were fantastic regarding different aspects like delegate engagement, as we welcomed people from 21 countries, and the given input from people towards new standards as well as to commercialise the already existing ones. Over the past five years the “standards family” has steadily grown and we attract new members year by year. This shows the enormous interest of stakeholders in shaping the future of fitness in a quality-oriented, but also marketable way.”
The ISM has now established itself as the foremost forum for international standards development in fitness and improving cooperation surrounding operational requirements for registers of exercise professionals.
To download presentations click here.