In 2016, the national governing body for group exercise, EMD UK, conducted a national survey of the group exercise sector.

The resulting insight from this survey concluded that over a million previously inactive people were choosing to participate in group exercise on a weekly basis.  It also concluded that the sector was playing a pivotal role in the governments agenda to get more of our nation active.

These findings led Ross Perriam, CEO of EMD UK to create FitGroupUK; an independent panel of 12 group exercise key opinions leaders. Ross says, “What stood out for me was that if group exercise is seen as an accessible and enjoyable way of becoming active without any real focus from the sector, what could we achieve if the industry started working together?”

FitgroupUK aims to focus, as a collective, on the larger inactive market (circa 15 million).  For the first time, FitgroupUK is uniting the industry to collaborate in key areas; to educate, to excite and to energise the inactive population. FitgroupUK has ambitious plans and is determined to make an impact.

There have been two national ‘FitgroupUK’ summits with over 80 key opinion leaders in the group exercise industry in attendance.  Together they discussed and identified the challenges and opportunities the sector faces in attracting the inactive market. An Executive Panel of the following opinion leaders was then convened to represent the sector and to work through and address the points raised in the summits:

  • Robert Copeland – Professor of Physical Activity & Health, Sheffield Hallam University, Chartered Sport and Exercise Psychologist with the Health Care Professions Council and British Psychological Society and Director of the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine in Sheffield
  • Dean Hodgkin – Presenter and Fitness Consultant
  • Dave Sibley – Managing Director, Zumba Fitness, Europe, Russian and India
  • Jean-ann Marnoch – Instructor Experience Director, Les Mills
  • Jenny Patrickson – Managing Director, Active IQ
  • Jane Waller – Executive Director, FitPro
  • Will Smithard – Strategic Projects Director, ukactive
  • Colin Huffen – Head of Education, CIMSPA
  • Claire Burlison Green – Brand Director and Co-founder, Clubbercise
  • Emma Forward – COO, EMD UK
  • Ross Perriam – CEO, EMD UK

The FitgroupUK Executive Panel meet on a quarterly basis and appointed Rob Copeland, Professor of Physical Activity and Health at Sheffield Hallam University, to Chair the meetings. The current focus of FitgroupUK is to use the insight it has on the inactive market and shape and design the implementation of improved access and outreach offer for new participants.  These offers, which include both online and studio based opportunities are in the final stages of development and are expected to be trialled as nationwide projects later in the year. The learnings from this work will then be published and shared freely with the wider sector so that everyone working in the industry will benefit from them.

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