In the summer of 2006, I had an important conversation with Cliff Collins, who was then running the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs). We discussed an initiative being devised to raise awareness among consumers of important quality control work being done within the sector to ensure all exercise professionals were registered and qualified.
The plan was to run a consumer-facing campaign under the strapline “Our REPutation is your guarantee”, with health clubs displaying the quality mark.
Although the initiative was absolutely necessary and could have given the industry a massive boost, the sector was simply not ready for this level of scrutiny or mature enough to be able to deliver on the vision and so the campaign didn’t generate the level of impact needed to land it.
Fast forward 15 years and today, the time has finally come to realise this vision, with the launch of the new Europe-wide industry accreditation scheme, Fitcert.eu, which has been led by Cliff Collins and developed in partnership between Europe Active and the European Committee for Standardisation.
With a pilot already underway, Fitcert.eu is giving operators the opportunity to register their facilities and be assessed on a quality scale to achieve levels of accreditation that can be publicly displayed in every club.
The aim is for Fitcert.eu to act as a quality mark, giving consumers confidence in health clubs and studios, so they can see the sector is taking standards seriously.
Writing in this issue of HCM (page 54), Collins says: “We have standards mainly because they reduce risk, and in the case of the fitness sector they’re all about risk reduction for our customers, for our employees, and for operators themselves.”
This is absolutely the right time to bring this initiative to market – it’s been widely acknowledged since the start of the pandemic that we must work to secure our reputation in the corridors of power and a very significant part of this will be demonstrating that we’re a professional and credible sector.
We urge all operators across Europe to take Fitcert.eu seriously and to sign up to the scheme, so we have a new industry-wide standard to gather around and promote to consumers and policymakers.
We’re extremely fortunate that Cliff Collins has continued to champion this work and that he’s still helming this initiative all these years later.
The complexities involved in establishing this kind of scheme are vast and require diligent work and endless rounds of diplomacy, for which we owe him a huge debt of gratitude.