The American Council on Exercise has announced our vision for the future of the fitness industry and overall outlook for America’s focus on healthy living in 2011.
Among our latest efforts to inspire, motivate and encourage people to make physical activity an integral part of their everyday lives, we have identified 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. Specifically, ACE is advocating greater collaboration with community leaders to develop and enhance exercise programs, encouraging neighbors to get more involved with each other and their communities, rallying with other industry partners to create greater public access to fitness resources and federal funding to help support fitness initiatives on a local level all across the country.
“While our organization has always remained dedicated to providing education and resources for ACE fitness professionals, our vision has evolved to address the needs of consumers and to encourage active lifestyles among people of all ages and all levels of fitness in every community,” said Scott Goudeseune, American Council on Exercise president and CEO. “It is important for everyone to begin looking at fitness through a new lens to accomplish our collective goal, and we encourage others to put fitness in focus at the local level so that we can together create more active and healthy communities.”
The following are ACE's 2011 key objectives to helping Americans begin to reach a collective goal of combatting the nation’s obesity epidemic:
1. Proactive involvement from local leaders: Communities across the country are rich with individuals that are leading activity-based programs. To have greater impact, they need the active support of local leaders to help promote their exercise-related programs and encourage the creation of new initiatives for their respective communities. ACE supports the Let’s Move Cities and Towns initiative and asks mayors and city leaders across the country to take an active and substantive role in addressing the health and fitness of their communities and support those individuals leading activity-based programs at the grassroots level.
2. Greater access and innovation in fitness: There is a need to generate new opportunities for the public to experience fitness in a new way and have greater access to fitness activities and facilities such as gyms, parks and recreation centers within their communities. Over the coming months, ACE will be leading the effort to introduce innovative solutions to address the issue of building communities and ensuring access for anyone who wants to be engaged in physical activity regardless of their financial or physical health status may be. To support this effort, it is also important to ensure and provide fundamental fitness education for those looking to lead activity-based community events.
3. Federal funding that supports livable communities: Political figures and organizations with like-minded goals must work together to secure necessary funding to support livable communities—those which offer transportation alternatives such as walking trails and bike lanes. This development will lead not only to stronger, healthier and more engaged residents, but it will also offer a unique opportunity for local groups and communities to join together for a mutually beneficial cause.
4. Fitness in the workplace: Companies and organizations will recognize the need to continue bringing fitness and wellness resources to the workplace so that employees have the ability to maintain productivity and a healthy lifestyle. In addition, employers that are committed to making a difference should be rewarded for offering such fitness programs and benefits. ACE supports these wellness in the workplace initiatives and encourages corporate America to connect with professional fitness organizations to access credible and safe fitness resources for their employees.
5. More collaboration among fitness and healthcare organizations: Fitness industry leaders and other related parties, such as certified fitness professionals, allied health professionals and healthcare workers, are encouraged to rally together to connect, share resources and inspire more people to become active as a means of preventing the onset of disease. Help is needed for individuals to learn and develop new behaviors and a genuine interest in becoming healthy and leading an active lifestyle. ACE offers extensive fitness education for fitness enthusiasts, as well as allied health, fitness and healthcare professionals, to ensure safety and extend the reach of fitness at all levels.
6. Healthier choices and education: Consumers need greater access to affordable, nutritious foods and other healthy lifestyle goods and services, along with the education to understand why these options are beneficial. This will result in healthier communities and, additionally, more consumers that are eating nutritious food, reading and learning about the latest research linking a healthy lifestyle to longevity and productivity, and taking action to change behaviors and habits. Fitness professionals, healthcare personnel and retailers already provide much of this information. As a healthy lifestyle leader, ACE will work to better arm consumers with the information they need to make more informed decisions and change longstanding unhealthy habits.
7. Greater inclusiveness: Barriers need to be eliminated for community members who are not currently physically active or fitness-minded, as well as those who may be fearful of fitness or embarrassed by their current body image or fitness level. ACE will provide new outreach opportunities to fitness professionals and consumers so that, together, interactive and inclusive fitness focused communities are developed.
8. Academic involvement: ACE sees the opportunity for academic institutions to offer improved and more robust health and fitness courses and education aside from standard gym classes and organized recreational sports teams. Science 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 provides free curriculum in this area and will continue to extend these valuable resources to anyone interested in helping students of all ages learn about living healthy. Working with fitness equipment manufacturers to make sure schools have the safest and most effective resources is also critical and ACE is well positioned to collaborate and partner with all industry leaders toward this effort.
9. Engagement with low-income communities: Private and public sectors can work to support at-risk and low-income communities in order to provide them with the resources, education and programming they deserve to stay active and healthy. Research shows that these communities often see greater rates of obesity and chronic diseases, so awareness and funding are vital to the improvement of these areas as it relates to overall health. ACE will work to build partnerships around the country with organizations focused on improving the health and wellbeing of those most at risk.
10. Leverage private funds and contributions: All organizations must continue to leverage funding and new policies at the national level, such as the National Foundation on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition Establishment Act (S.1275), which is a nonprofit, charitable foundation created to raise funds in support of the President’s Council’s expansion of exercise and wellness resources, especially among younger generations. By joining forces with such groups, there will be greater focus on putting funding and contributions to work for communities across the country to create a healthier future for America.
Goudeseune concluded, “The ultimate charge is for neighbors within communities across America to take advantage of fitness and activity-related opportunities to not only live longer, but to also support one another and strengthen our communities as a whole reinforcing our attachment to the place we call ‘home’ as well as our attachment to each other.”