For many of us, heading to the gym to work up a sweat is built into our weekly or sometimes daily routine. It’s important for staying fit and healthy and some people swear by hitting the treadmill for a boost of endorphins. However, a recent study concluded that gyms around the country have a way to go when it comes to becoming fully accessible for disabled gym-goers.
The Need to Raise the Bar
The study, commissioned by fitness company, Future Fit Training named ‘Raising the Bar’ asked fitness professionals what the industry was like as a whole and where things could be improved. One of the strongest responses came when asked about accessibility and inclusion. Not only do 85% of participants employed in gyms feel unequipped to train disabled people, but the survey also highlighted the fact that many gyms are unsure of how many of their clients have a disability. The disappointing results were commented on by the founder of Future Fit Training, Rob Johnson. Rob said in the report;
“The results of this survey are a wake-up call to the fitness industry that more needs to be done to cater for and engage disabled people. They reveal the scale of the challenge that lies ahead to ensure that disabled people’s needs are recognised, understood and addressed in gyms and fitness establishments across the UK.”(Future Fit Training, 2019)
The study certainly paints a picture of the work still to be done to help support disabled people who want to better their fitness levels. What’s more, it also noted that people with a disability are almost twice as likely to be inactive than people without one, with over 42% of disabled people being classed as physically inactive. But there are resources out there that can help support disabled people in becoming more active.
What Can Be Done?
Finding a suitable and accessible gym can encourage people to use the facilities on offer. While not every gym can provide equipment suitable for every person’s disability, more gyms are committed to accommodating for disabled users as best they can. You can find gyms with ramped access for wheelchair users and Blue Badge parking. You can take the hassle out of hunting for an inclusive gym by checking Activity Alliance. The charity provides resources and advice for disabled people seeking to get active. They even have a search engine on their website for gym-goers to search for inclusive gyms in all regions of the UK.
More Support for Fitness Professionals
When it comes to leisure facilities, more and more of them are taking notice and acting to become more accessible. In order to support fitness professionals training disabled clients, HFE, one of the leading providers of personal training courses and fitness qualifications have launched their new Level 3 Exercise for Disabled Clients course. The course is recognised by the industry’s original awarding body and is specially designed to for instructors and leisure organisations. This course has been designed from the ground up to give fitness professionals the confidence to serve disabled gym-goers and enhance their experience of using fitness facilities.
While the ‘Raising the Bar’ study highlights the fact that there’s perhaps some way to go in becoming fully exclusive, positive changes are most definitely being made and look only set to continue.