Taken holistically the health and fitness industry employs approximately 650,000 people, which represents 2% of the total UK work force. Within this figure almost one third (29%) of employees are aged 16-24, this compares with a 14% average for other industries across the UK. In addition there are almost two million volunteers in the English sector of the industry. In total there are almost 40,000 workplaces covering activities which range from sport to caravanning. Some 75% of these workplaces employ no more than 10 individuals. At its simplest the health and fitness industry focuses on the provision of facilities, which provide access to professionally supervised exercise and physical activity regimes.
Over the last 10 years and in the teeth of the current economic climate the UK health and fitness industry has continued to expand, there are presently thousands of fitness and related centres across the UK which are available for public use. This growth is in part due to a continued and sustained interest on the part of the public in the benefits of following a healthy lifestyle. However, successive governments have relied on the industry as an instrumental component in meeting its targets on everything from obesity to reducing the incidence of health related illness across the board.
If you wish to enter the industry in any capacity it will be in your interest to contact the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPS). This is a self-regulating body that only recognises industry orientated qualifications. You will also be required to attain and prove certain practical and personal competencies, which ascertain your suitability for employment in the sector. In addition, you must demonstrate that you can follow the established industry norms of ethics and code of conduct. It also important to realise that certain occupations will be limited by very strict legal and insurance parameters.
Certificates and Experience
There is an innumerable range of industry approved training courses which lead to apprenticeships as well as professional and vocational qualifications. Age is not generally a factor; if you are seeking a career change recruiters will help you explore your options which include the transferability of skills and/or qualifications. There are qualifications which are particularly valued by employers, including those concerned with first aid or sports science. It is also important to stress the importance of a good set of standard qualifications such as GCSE mathematics and English. An employer will also be attracted by certificates in P.E. at GCSE and/or A level as well as work or voluntary experience in the sector.
One established route into the health and fitness industry is to become a fitness instructor. This is a particularly attractive route if you have no formal qualifications. However, you will need a bona fide fitness instructor qualification and you must be over 18 years old to practise without supervision, these can be done online or ‘on location’ with a number of different companies – see Be A Better You. Within the sector overall responsibilities fit into several broad categories ranging from maintenance to sales. In a smaller facility you will be expected to undertake multiple responsibilities and in larger institutions you will most likely work in a specific department, such as spa or swimming pool.