SAN DIEGO, Calif. (January 18, 2012)—The American Council on Exercise (ACE®), today released its annual vision report for fitness in America. Among the organization’s ongoing efforts to inspire, motivate and encourage people to make physical activity an integral part of their everyday lives, ACE affirms its 10 key objectives to help individuals from all walks of life and communities from coast to coast come together to take action in support of the nation’s goal to combat the obesity epidemic.
“Eliminating the obesity epidemic is an audacious, long-term and critically important goal” said Scott Goudeseune, American Council on Exercise president and CEO. “That’s why we’re encouraging fitness and allied health professionals, government leaders and corporate America to continue to find new ways to build bridges that change lives through fitness. In 2011, we saw an encouraging uptick in consumer desire to make behavioral and lifestyle changes that will result in increased activity levels and healthier eating habits. With that in mind, this year we’ll continue championing for enhanced community and workplace partnerships and greater public access to healthy lifestyle and fitness education offerings across the country. “We’ll continue to create and support opportunities for more collaboration with community leaders to develop and enhance physical activity programs and rally with industry partners to give rise to greater public access to fitness resources at the local level all across the country.” Specifically, ACE’s 10 vision points for 2012 include the following:
Proactive involvement from local leaders: 2011 marked the launch of a major national initiative led by the White House called Joining Forces, which supports accessible fitness resources for military families. Along with the White House, ACE is leading the effort to unite fitness professionals around the nation to offer at least one million hours of fitness training services at no cost to family members of actively deployed military reservists and National Guard members. The enhancement of the federal government’s Presidential Active Lifestyle Award challenge (PALA+) to include nutrition in addition to physical activity will also provide local leaders with a roadmap for bringing fitness into their communities. According to a recent survey of fitness and allied health professionals, 2012 will see greater involvement from communities and governments as they address the obesity epidemic through school-based education programs, financial incentives for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and even government legislation targeting junk food. Under the leadership of the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity (NCPPA), the implementation of the National Physical Activity Plan will expand efforts to unite the strengths of public, private and industry initiatives that collaborate and support Americans to lead healthier, more active lifestyles.
Greater access and innovation in fitness: Through its involvement with The National Physical Activity Plan and organizations such as the American Heart Association, ACE will continue to convene with fellow thought-leaders to create collaborative innovations that work toward ending the obesity epidemic. 2011 saw the continued promotion of a major professional education and training innovation with the ACE® Integrated Fitness Training™ (ACE IFT™) Model. This unique training approach incorporates novel tools that fitness professionals can use to identify appropriate strategies to enhance behavior change, goal setting, motivation, adherence, and the establishment of stronger connections with their clients. Based on this model, ACE also expanded its professional resource center to include a free suite of online tools with cutting-edge features available at no cost to all fitness professionals. Educating those providing fitness instruction and advice should be a top priority for the nation in 2012 to ensure safe and effective methods are used to encourage sustainable lifestyle changes for all consumers, especially inactive individuals. As the awareness of the importance of healthy living grows, so will the proliferation of fitness fads and gimmicks. The industry has a responsibility to support those efforts scientifically known to be safe and effective for clients.
Federal funding that supports livable communities: Political figures and organizations with like-minded goals must continue to work together to secure necessary funding to support livable communities—those that offer transportation alternatives such as walking trails and bike lanes. This ongoing development will lead not only to stronger, healthier and more engaged residents, but will also offer a unique opportunity for local groups and communities to join together for a mutually beneficial cause.
Fitness in the workplace: A 2011 survey conducted by ACE of more than 1,500 fitness experts and allied-health providers confirmed an increase in organizations and companies that provide wellness resources to their workforce through employee discounts and reduced membership fees at fitness facilities and health clubs. ACE supports these wellness-in-the-workplace initiatives and in 2012 will work toward additional programming and research studies that encourage corporate America to connect with fitness professionals and organizations to access credible and safe fitness resources for their employees.
More collaboration among fitness and healthcare organizations: The healthcare industry must play a larger role in helping to educate the public about obesity-related diseases and focusing on prevention as the pathway to a higher quality of life and longevity. As consumers become better educated about health and fitness, the opportunities continue to grow for certified fitness, allied-health and healthcare professionals to come together to connect, share resources and inspire programming that encourages more people to become active as a means of preventing or delaying the onset of disease. Newly revised certifications related to obesity and weight management will be introduced such as the ACE Lifestyle & Weight Management Coach certification prompting fitness and allied health professionals to secure these credentials as a means of expanding their knowledge, skills, and abilities, thereby helping to grow their businesses and achieve their respective missions. ACE recently expanded its collaboration with the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) to offer professional development for staff members who provide fitness and wellness programs in senior living and community-based senior centers throughout the country. In addition, ACE is a key member of the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance, a new coalition spearheaded by the Arthritis Foundation and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and focused on uniting stakeholders in aging, arthritis, chronic disease prevention, physical activity, and public health. As the boomer population continues to grow and require greater access to fitness resources in the years to come, ACE and the industry as a whole will continue to be called on to provide support in this area.
Healthier choices and education: In 2011, more than 58 percent of fitness professionals reported seeing access to fitness services and education increasing in their communities, a positive trend that will continue in the year to come. ACE remains committed to providing content and information that enhances the public’s fitness literacy and arms consumers with the tools they need to make more informed decisions and change longstanding unhealthy habits. In 2011, ACE expanded its Get FIT™ online resource center, which provides free access to studies and research on the most effective exercise programs and equipment, a fully illustrated workout library featuring motion-capture technology, healthy recipes and expert answers to visitor-submitted questions related to fitness and health. With new technologies and the rise of social media, more and more organizations are leveraging these communication vehicles to provide education and support to those looking to improve their health. This will give rise to the potential for confusion and “noise” in the marketplace necessitating the need for trusted, research-based information and collaborative support within the industry.
Greater inclusiveness: Organizations offering free or reduced fitness programs to at-risk health populations are also on the rise. Through its partnerships with Academia Fit and AARP, ACE offers specialty programs for the Latino community and the 50-plus age group. In 2012 and beyond, ACE will expand national partnerships that extend the reach of free resources and information to the local level. The American Council on Exercise encourages industry leaders to find opportunities to support minority populations in America to ensure inclusiveness and access to fitness information for all.
Academic involvement: ACE continues to see the opportunity for academic institutions to offer improved and more robust health and fitness courses and education in addition to standard gym classes and organized recreational sports teams. Scientific research has consistently shown that regular exercise increases productivity and academic output in significant ways. The evidence is clear that providing younger generations with a well-rounded curriculum focused on fitness can positively impact their lives now and in the future. ACE continues to provide free curricula in this area that is available to anyone interested in helping elementary and middle-school students learn about living healthy and becoming physically literate. ACE also provides curriculum and support materials to more than 350 universities and colleges around the country working to educate tomorrow’s fitness professionals today.
Engagement with low-income communities: The private and public sectors must continue to find new ways to support at-risk and low-income communities in order to provide them with the resources, education and programming they need to stay active and healthy. Research continues to demonstrate that these communities often see greater rates of obesity and chronic diseases, making awareness and funding vital to the improvement of these areas as it relates to overall health. As the light continues to shine on the rising cost of healthcare, prevention (especially in low-income communities) must become a top priority for government and healthcare organizations. ACE will continue work to build partnerships around the country with organizations focused on improving the health and well-being of those most at risk.
Leverage private funds and contributions: With the launch of the National Foundation on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition Establishment Act (S.1275), a nonprofit, charitable foundation created to raise funds in support of the President’s Council’s expansion of exercise and wellness resources, we are one step closer to eliminating the childhood obesity epidemic. Through fitness-industry support and collaboration with such groups, there will be greater focus on putting funding and contributions to work for communities across the country in order to create a healthier future for America.
Goudeseune added, “While obesity rates remain troubling, we are beginning to see some signs of improvement in all areas of the country. Through our expanded educational programs and outreach initiatives as well as our collaborative partnerships—from the national level to local community events—we are spreading the message about physical activity and wellness and giving people resources they can use to start living healthier today. The fitness industry has always responded to the needs of others when called to do so. In 2012, we as an industry must renew our commitment to the health and fitness needs of all Americans reaching out especially to those not currently active through expanded collaborations, discovering new opportunities to build bridges within and outside of our industry and uncovering innovative approaches.”
The American Council on Exercise® (ACE®), America’s premier fitness and personal trainer certification, continuing education, and training organization, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting Americans against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction. ACE sponsors university-based fitness and exercise science research studies and is the world’s largest nonprofit fitness certifying organization. For more information on ACE and its programs, call (800) 825-3636 or log onto the ACE website at www.acefitness.org/.