January is synonymous with an influx of new patrons at their local gyms and health centres, armed with shiny new outfits, water bottles and sweatbands and raring to fulfil their New Year's resolutions. But what about the people helping the public to improve their health and fitness regimes and achieve new personal bests, while also hoping to make progress within the industry themselves?
As part of The World of Work's 'New Year, New You!' initiative, we caught up with Duncan Foster (pictured left), Director of Choices Health Clubs – the company behind Oceans Health & Fitness in Grantham, among other sites in Derbyshire and the Lake District – to get his perspective on the state of the health and fitness industry moving into 2020, and what he's looking for in people looking to start a career in the industry.
The World of Work: Hi Duncan! With the awareness and popularity of health and fitness in the UK always increasing, how do you view the state of the industry in 2020, particularly in Greater Lincolnshire?
Duncan: 'The health, fitness and wellbeing industry is bigger and more diverse than ever before in the UK. Direct Debit gym memberships held in the UK broke through the 15% of the population barrier for the first time last year – and the current belief within the industry is that this will continue to grow steadily in 2020.
'The diversity comes from new ways to "consume” fitness, with apps such as hussle providing different ways to use gyms. Les Mills and Peleton are also big brands looking to provide app-based home subscription fitness solutions and this market is also growing. Whilst this could be seen as providing a threat to traditional health centres I believe it creates more interest and participation in the wider industry, increasing the market place and providing new potential consumers.
'The industry is in great shape in 2020 and the more the industry grows the more opportunities it will provide to young people, this is as true in Lincolnshire as it is in London.'
WoW: As an employer, what are you typically looking for in someone wishing to start a career with Choices Health Clubs and within the wider industry? Do they need certain qualifications, skills and/or personal qualities?
D: 'A Level 2 Fitness Qualification is the minimum requirement to work with clients, although to really progress your career you will need to become a level 3 personal trainer. A genuine interest and passion for the industry and exercise is also a must as those who really live it do very well.
'It is a fun industry to work in but like anything you have to work hard to stand out. Approach the job with an open mind, a good work ethic and a desire to listen to and learn from senior colleagues.'
WoW: How diverse and inclusive are careers in the health and fitness industry? Do you think enough is being done to create opportunities for people from all walks of life?
D: 'The fitness industry is a diverse and inclusive industry. Gym members are a cross section of the whole of society and it is important staff teams can relate to members and make them feel welcome and comfortable.
'The gym industry tends to attract a lot of younger employees and this can occasionally leave older people unrepresented in gym teams. We do see more and more people looking to switch to the industry at an older age to follow their passion and it is fantastic to include those people in the industry as they help relate to a different demographic of member.'
WoW: What’s the most exciting or fulfilling thing about working in the health and fitness industry?
D: 'Working with a huge array of different members and watching people transform from a sedentary unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy active one – and how that improves their entire life.'
WoW: A lot of people’s New Year’s resolution is to get fit and healthy – what is your advice for them?
D: 'Set realistic goals. If you are new to the gym then don’t plan on coming 5 days a week – if you do that and only end up coming 3 days a week you will feel like you have failed and be demotivated, even though you have gone from 0 to 3 sessions a week. If you are just starting out 2-3 visits is enough to get you moving in the right direction.
'We offer a very thorough induction, and most gyms offer some form of induction – make sure you use it. A professional will show you the best way for you to train and our staff will personally tailor that to you. It avoids that overwhelming feeling of “what do I do now?” after joining.
'It is important to add nutrition to your exercise programme but again a generic goal of “eating healthy” is very hard to actually stick to. The best tip there is to look for things you can cut out of your diet – sugar, ready meals and takeaways are an easy place to start. Cut fizzy drinks and learn how to cook your favourite takeaways and ready meals at home without all of the nasty extras.'
WoW: Finally, do you have any New Year's resolutions yourself?
D: I tend to just have specific goals for a New Year's resolution personally – for example, a couple of years ago it was to work up to 50 press ups in 1 set as it was a basic exercise that I have never enjoyed!
For more information on Choices Health Clubs, visit choiceshealthclubs.com.