Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

August 2022

New ACE Continuing Education Helps Fitness Pros Expand Their Reach to All Seeking an Active Lifestyle

In order to prepare exercise professionals to assist larger-bodied individuals who are seeking to make healthy lifestyle changes, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and the Size Inclusive Training Academy launched a new education course, the Size Inclusive Fitness Specialist. This new course is part of ACE's larger effort to build a more inclusive fitness industry, and aims to teach a weight-neutral mentality.

"ACE is proud to partner with the Size Inclusive Training Academy to better serve individuals who have larger bodies," said Cedric X. Bryant, ACE president and chief science officer. "Ensuring that exercise professionals apply a weight-neutral mentality in working with this population creates a more welcoming environment for the client and a more inclusive space in the fitness industry. This provides equal access to a healthier lifestyle and more opportunities to incorporate movement into people's daily lives regardless of individual differences."

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, using evidence-based methods, the Size Inclusive Fitness Specialist Program provides strategies to create a size-inclusive fitness approach that lowers barriers to increased physical activity, including gym intake recommendations, exercise program design, workout space setup, and business and marketing considerations. In addition, the course offers methods on how to repair larger bodied individuals' often impaired relationship with exercise, including a deep examination of the psychological, physiological and often physical barriers this population faces in the fitness space.

"When it comes to physical activity and exercise, the larger-bodied demographic has different needs; fitness is not a one-size-fits-all," said Louise Green, CEO of Size Inclusive Training Academy, and author of the Size Inclusive Fitness Specialist Program. "Most courses that have a focus on working with larger-bodied individuals are either weight management or weight loss focused. This specialist program approaches the situation from a weight-neutral position to help foster sustainable health outcomes."

In a 2021 systematic review of physical activity motives, barriers and preferences in people with obesity of more than 5,000 papers, the three most common physical activity barriers were lack of self-discipline/motivation, pain or physical discomfort, and lack of time. Research findings like these demonstrate the need for trained exercise professionals who can offer a safe and inclusive space, along with appropriate motivation toward their goals and fitness programs specifically designed to help reduce pain and discomfort during workouts. Specialized health and fitness professionals trained to work and guide people with larger bodies help break down barriers this population faces to live a healthier lifestyle.

Two years ago, ACE strengthened its commitment to addressing structural inequities by enacting much-needed change. Since then, ACE has launched almost 10 equity, diversity and inclusion courses focused on educating exercise professionals and health coaches to feel better equipped and confident in supporting and allowing all physical activity participants to have equal access and feel welcome in every environment.

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