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The conventional sports, leisure and fitness sector needs to have a rethink – NOW!

At the time in writing in the UK, certainly England, there is considerable debate and upheaval within the conventional sports, leisure and fitness sector because it is not included the many businesses and organisations within the leisure and entertainment world that will re-open, following social media guidelines, on 4th July.

There seems to be a sentiment that leisure centres etc. are there to engage with all those inactive people who right now are hugging their settee and whose health is going deteriorate almost overnight if they can not come down and enjoy their spinning classes.
Yes, I appreciate that we are talking about the livelihoods of many people but, as we point out later, we have to ask ourselves do we exist to help people to become and stay active wherever they way or does it have to be in a gym etc?
Because the fact is that in the UK and the Republic of Ireland the population are more active than before the lockdown, as the graph below shows:

Of course, the way people are active now has changed and it is running, cycling, walking and home fitness which engages the population and the leisure industry needs to think about how it can meet people here and build on the benefits they’re getting now.

The industry needs to get a better and clearer picture of who they serve:

Is the Prosumer, Consumer or Nonsumer?
Kristine Sørensen of the Global Health Literacy Academy, based in Denmark has developed this simple segmentation model which splits people into three categories who will respond to the crisis in different ways

The Prosumer is the one who doing classes at home, running for an hour every day, etc. etc. 

They will be back at the clubs, leisure centres and fitness clubs, but they will probably also maintain some of their new habits. 

There is considerable scope for the traditional providers for developing online activities to complement their traditional offer and to improve their retention rate.

The Prosumer wants to stay fit and win. They want good coaches and instructors who can help them achieve their ambitions to perform better, run faster and longer and/or win competitions.

The Consumer would like to stay fit, somehow, but it is not the only thing that matters.
They need to have fun and be motivated and the social aspects of doing sport and physical activity are very important to them. 

They would like to improve, but winning does not matter to them.  They are more likely to play football or cricket in the park as in a club or join a social running group, such as Mums on the Run or Parkrun

The Consumer wants to do Small Sport.

They don’t want coaches, but Activators, who can nudge them that little extra bit.

The Nonsumer often has an intense dislike of taking part in any sport or physical activity. The last place they want to go to is the traditional sports club or leisure centre.

They often have underlying health problems and/or addictions, so any improvements in their level of physical activity can have a considerable positive impact.

The Nonsumer wants understanding and patient support.

They prefer to be active in their own environment, on their doorstep, supported and motivated by people like them or who they know and trust.  The last thing they want is a coach.

So which one of these segments do you serve?

Sadly, our work over the years has confirmed to me that most Nonsumers find the traditional gym and fitness centre very intimidating and, that the majority of the people who run those don’t know how to deal and with that, growing, segment.

But, that is where public health feels that the sector is not delivering, because these are the exact people that they want to work with to improve their health and life span. As one public health specialist said to me, ‘the sector is too elitist, more worried about income than need and too focused on making the active more active”, sorry, his words, not mine.

Active Tameside – focusing on health and social outcomes 

This dynamic social enterprise, based in a suburb of Manchester decided some years to ‘think wrong’ and now delivers a wide range of services to the local community and local authority

Just look at their Active Education programme which includes:

  • PE – Coaches in Schools programme
  • Bikeability – road safety cycling programme
  • School swimming – curriculum
  • Healthy eating and family cooking programmes
  • Mental health and physical activity programmes
  • Little Bikers – early years Pre-pedal programme
  • British Cycling – Go-ride school and community program

Activating a group of ladies during the lockdown

In a couple of days SMN will be publishing a comprehensive article about the great work that Active Tameside are doing in their local community.

Sports Marketing Network offers
a workshop to help the sector transform

How to kickstart your organisation deliver enterprising community sport ansd physical in the new ‘normal’ world

A one-day interactive workshop providing on a combination of best practice from across all community sport and physical activity delivered in a thought-provoking, idea-generating, practical and entertaining way.

The workshop will cover;

  • The world of VUCA which roughly translates into ‘it’s absolutely crazy out there!”.  V is for Volatility, about the speed of change. It is associated with fluctuations in demand, turbulence and short-time to the world around you. In short, high volatility means rapid change.
  • U is for Uncertainty which refers to the extent to which we can predict the future. C is for Complexity and relates to the number of factors we must take into account, their variety and the relationship between them. A is for Ambiguity is the lack of clarity in interpreting something. It is vagueness in ideas and technology.
  • How to benefit from a serious crisis – accelerating innovation and change
  • How to adopt a disruptor mindset – managing risk and opportunities without losing focus.
  • ‘Old thinking’ focuses on maintaining the status quo and cherishes ‘the way we do things around here’, whereas ‘young thinking’ focuses on how to disrupt the existing set-up. We will work with you to encourage disruption within your organisation and how to work with external disruptors. How to think ‘young’.
  • How to drive change by ‘working with the willing’ and ignore the negaholics
  • We also look at embracing and embedding new technology to grow your reach. The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the growth in the use of social media and digital technology. So, every sports body and provider must now take a serious and innovative look at how they can further benefit from being more enterprising in the way they use technology to engage.
  • How to develop lateral thinking. taking a creative approach to a problem or challenge and think creatively or “outside the box” to find solutions
  • How to be a force for good – focus on sustainability and social impact.  Community sport can become climate-friendly and play a role in reducing CO2 emissions. This is no longer just a ‘good’ thing to do, it is becoming a ‘must’ thing, and now is the time to take a serious look at that.
  • Adopting purposeful and ethical practices that will enhance your value. Organisations are increasingly being asked “What is your purpose?” and that for sports bodies that has to be more than just getting people active, for you to have a real impact.
  • You must be a hub for your community and your stakeholders.
  • If you want to make a real impact you must become a hub for the community, a place ‘where people live their lives’, or, as we call it #MoreThanSport
  • Who do you serve?
    • The Prosumer:  Loves being fit and doing sport. They will always be there
    • The Consumer: Will be active if the offer and experience is the right one
    • The Nonsumer: Will require a lot of support and attention to become (and stay) active
  • How you can combine online and offline activities

Throughout the workshop, delegates will be given practical examples and tools and to-do-lists to help them to implement the changes required back at work.
If you want to learn more please get in touch.
Svend Elkjaer, svend@smnuk.com + 44 (0) 1423326 660