Not a lot of people in Glasgow seem to know this, but Wednesday 7th September is/was National Fitness Day.
It was supposed to be a day to celebrate the benefits of being physically active, but also, more importantly, a day when we could encourage more people to move more, more of the time. It was a day to Move The Nation.
What we got instead was more self back patting, a trending hashtag, more confirmation bias and lots of preaching to the converted.
On National Fitness Day, it seemed that the already active were hashtagging their day’s activities with #NationalFitnessDay while the inactive presumably went on with their day none the wiser and certainly no more active than they were they day before.
And can we blame them? One National Fitness Day Challenge was to record 50,000 burpees. This is not an exercise that you motivate the inactive with. This is the type of challenge that frightens people and most likely makes them doubt their capabilities.
If you are in London you might be reading this and wondering what I am on about? For you, National Fitness Day included events outside the Olympic Park, events with celebrities and Sports Ministers and events that went on all day. It looked exciting, it looked fun and it really looked like people were getting involved.
However, it is supposed to be National Fitness Day, not London Fitness Day and in Glasgow, you would never have known that it was even happening.
In Glasgow, I struggled to find anyone who knew what it was and I struggled to find ANY fitness operator giving it any serious attention.
Just look at the efforts that Pure Gym and the Gym Group went to, in order to entice people in and to share their free gym pass offer! Inside Pure Gym, there were no posters, no flyers and no events that I could see.
It was simply business as usual. With gym membership and attendance increasing, do the likes of Pure Gym and the Gym Group even see a need to invest time and money into National Fitness Day? The pictures below suggest not.
I also visited National Fitness day Sponsor, Argos, to see what activities and promotions they had. As the main sponsor and having read what they had planned, I was confident that they would be celebrating it with some style.
Oh, how wrong was I?
I saw a young cashier with a National Fitness Day t-shirt on and I asked him what was happening. He responded that he had turned up for work and had been given the top to wear. To his credit, he went searching for information and told me that there had been people in, but that they had left. They hadn’t left any flyers or posters and Argos were not advertising any offers, but at least someone had been there. It is however National Fitness Day, not National Fitness Hour.
Was Glasgow alone and were we just proving that despite our protestations, that we are the Sick Man of Europe?
According to Sean Blyth of World Gym Challenge, the answer is no. He organised and delivered a National Fitness Day event in his Argos Store in Kent and he struggled to engage any members of the public . He reported that while the staff in Argos were helpful, they were too busy to offer any real support.
People were shopping or on lunch from work. They had no desire to work out in Argos and had no real interest in National Fitness Day. This is the apathy and attitudes that we need to somehow break down.
We need to consider ways to engage with people and National Fitness Day, on paper at least, is a great idea. However, maybe the word fitness doesn’t quite fit. Is it possible that this is a word that the inactive recoil from and maybe we need to, dare I say it, consider A Different Approach ?
UKactive are to be applauded for attempting to make a difference. I believe in National Fitness Day and I genuinely hope that we can reflect on what worked well and what went wrong this year. In 2017, we can all work together, to make National Fitness Day better and bigger and help more people, move more, more often.