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Inclusion Works out - Inclusive Fitness Week 2008

24th-30th April 2008 will see the first ever Inclusive Fitness Week place the inclusive physical activity agenda firmly at the forefront of both fitness providers’ and disabled people’s minds, providing as many people as possible with the opportunity to try a new activity, embark upon a new fitness goal or simply to understand that exercise really can and should be for everyone.

Inclusive Fitness Week 2008, brings together Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) Accredited Facilities and the fitness industry as a whole to ask the question, why aren’t more disabled people participating in physical activity than do so at present?

In 2006, Sport England conducted the largest ever survey of people’s physical activity participation habits and disturbingly identified that only 8.8% of disabled people are physically active compared to 21% of the adult population. The IFI through its network of accredited facilities provides a route to address this issue, providing opportunities for disabled people to exercise in a truly inclusive environment.

The IFI has been working with the fitness sector since 2001, supporting facilities to offer an inclusive provision, addressing issues related to building access, the provision of inclusive fitness equipment, staff training and the marketing message delivered by the fitness industry. In doing so, the IFI has accredited 183 facilities across England to date with a further 200 to be in place in the next 12 months.

Inclusive Fitness Week provides a dual focus. To bring together facilities that are currently accredited through the IFI to provide events and activities that will target disabled people and raise awareness of the opportunities available to them; and secondly to issue a call to action to the industry as a whole raising the importance of an inclusive provision, both in the context of legislative obligation and long term commercial viability, after all disabled people conservatively represent 20% of the population.

Sue Catton, The IFI’s National Director stated,

“The IFI in partnership with a large number of fitness providers has made tremendous strides to ensure that disabled people have a greater opportunity than ever before to get fit in an inclusive environment, without the traditional barriers to participation. Inclusive Fitness Week will place this agenda firmly in the mainstream, increasing opportunity and raising awareness of how the fitness industry really can address a number of societal challenges in a truly inclusive context.”

Accredited IFI Mark facilities will be staging over 100 events and activities throughout the week, across the country encouraging disabled people to try the facilities on offer. (further information, www.inclusivefitness.org).

In addition the IFI has convened a high-level breakfast meeting to discuss the future of inclusive fitness provision. To be chaired by Richard Caborn, confirmed attendees include, Gerry Sutcliffe, Minister For Sport, Jenny Price, Chief Executive, Sport England, Anne Cutcliffe, Vice Chair, British Paralympic Association, Dr. Nicola Brewer, Chief Executive, Commision for Equality and Human Rights, Liz Sayce, Chief Executive, RADAR and Mark Downes, Head of Olympic Legacy, London Development Authority. The meeting will take place in Westminster.

Richard Caborn, Senior Advisor to the Fitness Industry Association,

"Being positive about inclusion is not just about creating accessible buildings; it is about a way of operating, a culture that is intrinsic to every business practice, and an industry that is willing to meet head on the barriers that exist for some sections of our community. I congratulate the IFI on the major strides it has taken to support the development of an inclusive fitness industry to date. I look forward to seeing the impact increase throughout the Home Countries, creating an Olympic and Paralympic legacy of 1,000 IFI Mark facilities by 2012."

Since its inception, the IFI has proved that disabled people want to use fitness facilities, and that it is realistically attainable for facilities to create inclusive environments to facilitate this. In doing so the fitness industry opens its doors to around 20% of the population, that vast majority of which have never set foot in a gym before.

The demand is there, the business case speaks for itself, now the fitness industry must continue to develop its services to make sure that the whole population, irrespective of ability, geography or experience, feel confident entering the facilities close to them.


Notes to Editor

  • The Inclusive Fitness Initiative is the recognised mark of accreditation for the fitness industry recognising an inclusive provision.
  • Inclusive Fitness Week (24th – 30th April) will involve over 100 inclusive gyms holding open days and activities for disabled people who have never visited a gym to give it a go and feel the benefits.
  • The IFI was launched in 1998 after the Gary Jelen Sports Foundation commissioned research into the usage of sports centres and gyms by disabled people. They discovered the main barrier to usage was suitable equipment and staff awareness of disabled people’s needs. The IFI is funded by the National Sports Foundation, and is delivered in partnership with the English Federation of Disability Sport. The IFI is the recognised mark of accreditation for the fitness industry recognising an inclusive provision.
  • ‘Inclusion Works Out’ is the IFI’s five-year strategic plan, identifying seven key objectives to truly embed inclusion into the fitness industry by the end of 2012.
  • For additional imagery, interviews or photo opportunities, please contact Gemma Vessey, IFI Marketing Officer on 0114 2572060, chris@inclusivefitness.org.

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