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A survey of 1,200 exercise and management professionals, which was published by Central YMCA Qualifications, has identified skills gaps in the active leisure sector. Is your business doomed?

YMCA commissioned ukactive to conduct the research at a time when the government is reaching out to employers to take greater responsibility with regard to taking ownership of the skills policy agenda.


The research found that over half (55%) of managers believe that exercise professionals are under-skilled when trying to deliver social and psychological support to inactive people. Leading fitness and leisure employers have consequently called for definitive career pathways to be established within the physical activity sector. Action has also been targeted towards better counselling and motivational interviewing within training to try and prepare the workforce to cope with the growing number of inactive people across the UK.

The survey cited that 46% of exercise professionals state changing behaviour and lifestyle trends as one of the greatest barriers when working with inactive consumers, and employers and exercise professionals have highlighted the need for ‘social’ skills such as empathetic communication in order to support the one in four people in England who are inactive.

A total of 83% of those surveyed concluded that communication was the most important skill to possess when dealing with inactive people. Many stressed the unease they felt in terms of the simplicity with which young exercise professionals can enter the industry with a minimal development plan. The problematic nature of this is that they are underprepared to develop a programme to suit the needs and experiences of those individuals who are inactive.

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We would love to hear how you use your social skills to work with inactive clients, in order to build up your psychological skill. Let’s get social: you can tweet us at @fitpro_online!