Check out this interesting article written by Jules Twells (from the Inclusive Fitness Initiative and English Federation of Disability Sport), which focuses on how the Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) is driving change across the UK…
It is estimated that around 17% of the UK population have an impairment, yet after a year of National sporting success, disabled people are seriously under-represented as users of fitness and gym facilities.
Excellent customer service, training and marketing is vital in providing accessible fitness provision to support the growth of disabled users using gyms.
The Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) was set up to drive this change, encouraging disabled clients to use gyms by:
- addressing inequality in physical activity for disabled people,
- reaching inactive populations and,
- raising awareness of the benefits of exercise for disabled people.
Inclusive Fitness addresses inclusion as a whole, to encourage a cultural change within the leisure industry and support facilities to achieve the IFI Mark of accreditation. To get this, gyms and health centres must undergo an assessment inclusion across the following elements:
The assessment process accredits facilities at three levels; provisional, registered or excellent. The level awarded depends on a facilities commitment to inclusion and includes the number of Exercise Professionals who have achieved REPs disability categories and considers the additional benefit of trained staff with Exercise Referral and specialist population categories.
The Inclusive Fitness Initiative is committed to continuing a cultural change within the leisure industry to not only market and cater to disabled people so that service provision is available to them, but to change disabled people’s attitudes towards the leisure industry.
Recent research reveals that psychological barriers are the biggest barriers preventing disabled people to participate in physical activity. Through inclusive marketing and awareness, the industry can change attitudes through more inclusive imagery, messaging and mapping and gapping where service provision doesn’t meet the needs of this market.
It is essential that Exercise Professionals are well trained and confident to support disabled people to achieve and maintain levels of health and fitness.
For more information on the Inclusive Fitness Initiative and the IFI Mark visit www.efds.co.uk/inclusive_fitness
Jules Twells has worked within marketing roles for both the leisure industry and third sector for over 12 years. Now working for the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) she supports the development and delivery of the Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) to influence the health and fitness industry to become inclusive and encourage disabled people to participate in physical activity.