The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association is the fitness industry's only global trade association representing over 10,000 for profit health and fitness facilities and over 600 supplier companies in 75 countries.



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IHRSA part of training staff to work with those with disabilities

IHRSA is partnering with the European Commission in a new project, European Fitness Inclusion Training for Work - E-FIT-W," which will help clubs with the skills needed to work with persons with disabilities in fitness clubs.

The initiative is led by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Chair in Inclusive Physcial Education, Sport, Fitness & Recreation.

Here is the complete press release:

IHRSA are delighted to announce that the European Commission are supporting a new project aimed at equipping fitness professionals with the skills necessary to work with people with disabilities in fitness clubs.  The project entitled “European Fitness Inclusion Training for Work: E-FIT-W” in which IHRSA is a partner, is led by the UNESCO Chair in Inclusive PE, Sport, Fitness & Recreation in Tralee, Ireland will run for two years commencing in November 2013 and culminating in a resource pack launch and final conference in October 2015. Other partners in this project include REPS UK, EOSE, Palacky University (Czech) and the Polytechnic University of Madrid.  The European Commission are investing in this critical area of development which has a budget of over €365,000. The project uses an innovative approach by embedding inclusive fitness professional training within the fitness club environment in a sector skills alliance involving trainers, trainees, employers and people with disabilities.

Justification for the project stems from the reality that people with disabilities are 3 times less likely to be physically active and twice as likely to be obese than the able bodied population. They are underrepresented in the mainstream fitness environments.  Many fitness centre managers & instructors do not feel confident working with people with disabilities and this is exacerbated by a lack of awareness among employers, those with disabilities and their families regarding the benefits to be gained from their participation. A number of factors contribute to this including: the vocational preparation of professionals and operating polices and attitudes of staff, employers and society as a whole. Few VET training programmes equip fitness professionals with sufficient knowledge, competence and skills to work with people with disabilities while, the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) says States Parties shall: a) encourage their participation in mainstream sporting activities; provide opportunity to organize, develop and participate in disability-specific sporting and recreational activities and; ensure equal access to.. recreation and leisure activities.  

Resources will be tailored to ensure sectoral needs are met.  In addition the project will launch a European Awareness and Education Campaign to be used in wide-scale dissemination activities across the social partner and stakeholder mix of VET Trainers, Employers, Employees, and Representative Bodies. As a result of this project more fitness instructors will be equipped with competence needed to work with people with disabilities and more workplaces will cater for their inclusion. Our partnership can impact upon 30,000 Clubs, over 1 million staff and associated VET providers.

If you would like to be involved in the consultation or pilot phases of the project, or be added to the mailing list please contact the project leader Catherine Carty on: or +353 66 7144194



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