As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the essential nature of regular physical activity has become apparent even as policymakers around the world have, through their actions, conveyed the message that they consider the fitness industry non-essential.
Many people of a broad range of backgrounds, ages, and abilities want to exercise in your club, but many also face barriers to exercising. These barriers can include well-known roadblocks like time, cost, transportation, and intimidation, as well as perceived negative attitudes, discrimination, and lack of inclusion. Uncertainty around COVID-19 has added a new barrier, especially for people over the age of 65 and those with underlying medical conditions.
The prevailing image of health clubs as non-essential has been in part attributed to perceptions around fitness centers’ cleanliness and lack of broad appeal (at best fitness clubs reach 20% of the population).
The public needs to know that we, as an industry, are a supportive, welcoming, and inclusive place for people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities.
This is where the Get Active for All Pledge comes in—the first step in moving toward broadening our sector’s reach and achieving greater inclusivity of all people in fitness and sport.
What Is the Purpose of the Pledge?
The purpose of this pledge is simple: Inspire the industry to empower and support adults and children of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities to be more active.
Clubs alone cannot address every single barrier, but we have the power to create an inclusive sport and fitness sector. We can help people of all abilities achieve full participation in sports and fitness, and make sure no one feels unwelcome or intimidated. We can innovate and adapt our offerings to make a space (virtual or brick-and-mortar) for every person.
Physical inactivity is a global problem, and the outlook is often worse for those living with disabilities. When the UNESCO Chair asked fitness clubs about their members with disabilities, 57% reported having 10% of members—or fewer—with disabilities, and 28% reported not having any members at all with disabilities. The COVID-19 pandemic has only widened these disparities.