£20bn short by 2020. Why the NHS needs better trained, better supported Fitness Professionals

Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson talks in stark terms. “Physical inactivity levels across the UK should be a source of national embarrassment”. As a nation, we are fully ensconced in what can only described as a public health ‘disaster’.

Why then, at a time of such impending need, have we stooped to our lowest level of education and support for the very fitness professionals who can help us climb out of the health mire and put the nation onto a more positive, proactive health footing?

There are some outstanding, committed and caring Personal Trainers out there who are flourishing in the health and fitness industry because of their native ambition, tenacity and perseverance. They are ambassadors to our industry, and are people for whom I have great respect.

But many of those new to the industry who are not flourishing, have been set up for failure by certain fitness industry training companies competing in an unseemly ‘race for the bottom’. Courses are being shortened at an alarming rate. Form filling is at an all-time high. Building outstanding fitness professionals fit for purpose and fit to propel the industry into the future - is low on the agenda.

The results of this corner cutting are coming out in the wash with literally thousands of Personal Trainers dropping out of the industry within the first 10 months of practice because they have not been trained and supported in the way they should. Shame on us as an industry to accept this. Shame on us.

If we wish to rewrite the fitness story and change the health of the nation, we need to take much more time and care to train up the enthusiastic army of new recruits who want to make a difference, who want to be successful doing what they love. In the words of legendary film producer Spike Lee, it is time for us to ‘do the right thing’. For Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, the NHS and the Great British public, I hope we do.