Working together to shape
the future of group
Created to collaborate
uniting the group exercise industry
to educate, energise and
engage the nation
According to the 2016 National Survey, conducted by EMD UK and YouGov, there are approximately 5 million people taking part in group exercise across England every month. This equates to approximately 8% of the population, a number that has not significantly changed for some time. New group exercise opportunities tend to attract existing participants rather than attract new participants. This results in organisations across the sector competing against each other as the same small market is recycled.
To break this cycle, FitgroupUK was formed by EMD UK, the national governing body for group exercise. As an independent panel of experts from across the industry, FitgroupUK aims to focus, as a collective, on the larger inactive market (circa 15 million). For the first time, FitgroupUK is uniting the industry to collaborate in key areas; to educate, to excite and to energise the inactive population. FitgroupUK has ambitious plans and is determined to make an impact.
The FitgroupUK executive panel consists of 12 group exercise key opinion leaders, who meet four to six times per year. These meetings aim to further the awareness and growth of group exercise in the UK. The experience of these individuals covers every aspect of the industry and allows for a greater reach and synergy across our sector.
FitgroupUK aims to improve the opportunities for everyone working in the industry. Using a combination of detailed insight on the non-participant market and the knowledge and resources from those working right across the sector, FitgroupUK can achieve a step change in participation.
Will Smithard joined not-for-profit health body ukactive in 2015 as the Strategic Projects Director. He currently oversees ukactive’s work across major brands, local authorities, events and marketing. This includes working with partners such as Sainsbury’s, Axa PPP healthcare and Coca-Cola GB on their programmes to get more people moving.
Prior to joining ukactive, Will spent the previous decade in the management consultancy industry and predominately at Deloitte, where he specialised in delivering programme leadership across major events and in the public and private sectors, including working on programmes like the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the FIFA World Cup.
Successful fitness entrepreneur with a unique background, starting out as a graphic designer then moving into marketing management and brand consultancy before launching Clubbercise in 2014.
Today roughly 100,000 people worldwide are taking Clubbercise classes every week. Claire is passionate about sharing her success with charities, with profits from Clubbercise training courses providing clean drinking water to thousands of people worldwide.
Emma Forward, Chief Operating Officer for EMD UK has over 20 years’ experience in the Sport and Fitness industry.
Emma has always had a passion for fitness, having graduated from Brighton University with a BSc Hons degree in Sport Science. Starting her career as gym instructor and personal trainer, Emma soon moved in to management and then across into Sports Development.
With a wealth of knowledge behind her, Emma joined EMD UK in 2012 as Development Director and was promoted to Chief Operating Officer in 2015. As COO, Emma is responsible for the overall operation of EMD UK and specifically for the achievement of targets set by Sport England. Emma is a Group Ex specialist and her main areas of expertise include skills, qualifications, instructor support and quality assurance.
Leading by example and keeping in touch with the real issues, Emma is also a Group Ex Instructor regularly teaching classes and helping people get and keep active.
Outside of work, Emma volunteers for a dog rescue and is a keen horse rider. Her past achievements include completing the London Marathon twice and several Triathlon events.
Jenny joined Active IQ in 2014 and has over 25 years of experience within the physical activity sector, including the development of specialist health and fitness awarding organisations to support the sector with its workforce development.
She has expertise in regulatory frameworks, educational policy, quality assurance and business development, and has a background as an educator and a practitioner, having started her journey in the physical activity sector as an Exercise to Music Instructor.
Jenny is passionate about the impact that education has on the promotion of physical activity via the development of the sector’s workforce.
Areas of Expertise:
• Awarding Organisations and Regulatory Frameworks
• Educational Landscape
• Apprenticeships and Apprenticeship Levy
• Skills, Training and Workforce Development
With over 25 years’ experience in the Sport and Fitness industry, Ross has a strong commercial background and a passion for raising industry standards and increasing accessibility to group exercise opportunities.
A graduate of Staffordshire University, Ross spent his early career with Cannons Health & Fitness (now Nuffield) as a General Manager before progressing to UK New Sites Manager. Ross was then offered a post as a Regional Director for Holmes Place Germany subsequently adding Austria to his portfolio in 2009 before being appointed Chief Operating Officer for Holmes Place Germany later that same year.
Ross moved back to the UK in 2015 for his current role as CEO of EMD UK where he subsequently initiated a market review and repositioning of EMDP, a successful rebrand to EMD UK and founded FitgroupUK; an organisation dedicated to bringing together the wider group exercise industry to collaborate on key issues facing the sector.
Ross is often quoted in the media due to his broad range of expertise. Topics include: tackling inactivity in the UK, group exercise insight and various aspects of the health and fitness sector
Ariana, a lover of adventures and live music, began playing with the Sweat & Sound concept whilst living in NYC. She’s obsessed with fitness and how powerful music enhances it, inspiration also stemming from companies she admires such as Sofar Sounds and Secret Cinema Club. She tries out as many new fitness classes as possible and is always looking out for new inspiration.
Being a curious creature, Ariana loves discovering hidden gems within cities, interesting musicians and passionate instructors. Ariana has danced for over 22 years, is a trained digital marketing expert and writes in her spare time.
Colin joined the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) in January 2017 as Head of Education, he has extensive experience of all parts of the education sector with a particular focus on the Sport and Physical Activity workforce. He has previously held workforce related roles with the following organisations, the Association of Colleges, UK Coaching, Skills Active, Pearson, Swim England and Loughborough College.
Rob is a Chartered Sport and Exercise Psychologist and Professor of Physical Activity and Health at Sheffield Hallam University. Rob completed his PhD in psychology at Sheffield Hallam University in 2006 and continues to be fascinated by how to change behaviour at an individual and population level.
Rob has significant research, consultancy and service evaluation experience in clinical and non-clinical populations and has presented and published nationally and internationally on physical activity, health and behaviour change. Rob is a member of a number of national academic advisory boards and regularly reviews for international peer review journals and research submissions.
Rob is also Director of The National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM) in Sheffield, which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of the nation through sport, exercise and physical activity. One of the projects of the NCSEM is ‘Move More’ (www.movemoresheffield.com), which represents the city’s ambitious plan to transform Sheffield into the most active city in the UK by 2020 and includes the co-location of primary and secondary care clinics within leisure centres to embed physical activity at the heart of the NHS.
In other areas, Rob has worked as a psychologist within a wide range of professional sports including cycling, golf, football, tennis and snooker. Rob has also worked with chief executives and senior manager’s applying sports psychology techniques to a business environment to improve performance under pressure.
Jean-ann Marnoch joined Les Mills UK in 2013 after 30 years’ experience in the fitness industry.
“When I first entered the Instructor training world I was delivering exercise-to-music and personal training courses, and that meant I got to impact the 20 people on that course.” “But by moving into quality assurance I was suddenly able to influence and impact more people. By the time I left the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) in 2013, they had 30,000 people on their register. Now I’m at Les Mills, which is a global organisation, so the scale of the impact I can make is tremendous.” At Les mills Jean-ann is focussed on the quality of training and is passionate about making instructors feel valued.
2002 – Director at Central YMCA Qualifications
2008 – Registrar at Register for Exercise Professionals
2013 – Instructor Experience Director at Les Mills UK
Quality assurance and standardisation have been the focus of the successful work that Les Mills UK has undertaken over the last three years. The important key pillars for Les Mills UK are ‘More Instructors, Better Instructors, More Engaged Instructors’ have been the driving force since Jean-Ann arrived at Les Mills and these are now starting to be implemented globally in Les Mills international territories. The support, training and structure Jean-Ann has delivered to the UK Trainer team (85 Trainers, 50 assessors) has developed the UK Trainer team into being recognised as the best Les Mills Trainer team in the world.
Jane Waller is co-founder and executive Director of FitPro, one of the world’s leading educators of Group Fitness Instructors and Personal Trainers since 1990. For over 30 years Jane has been an influencer in the fitness industry, particularly in the UK where she has inspired and guided GX Instructors. In the 1990s Jane was regularly seen on international event schedules around the world, presenting cutting edge choreography and GX methodology. Jane continues to head up programme development for FitPro and is now responsible for education and development for ViPR Programming, and more recently global operations of ViPR.
Co-Founder of FRAME
Joan Murphy is Co-Founder of FRAME, a London-based fitness brand, she is highly regarded as an industry expert and innovator. Joan originally from New Zealand studied Business, specialising in Marketing and Finance at Central Otago University in NZ, before starting a career in Radio with MediaWorks in Auckland. Together with Pip Black the two set out to build a brand which would encourage fit, healthy living through high energy and fun-filled classes. FRAME has been operating for almost 10 years and has 7 locations across London.
Senior Manager at Ragdale Hall Spa
He has written a small library of magazine articles for both consumer and trade publications, authored 2 fitness books, accrued considerable broadcast experience and has more recently created a number of diverse consumer fitness products being sold through several retail channels.
He is a renowned group exercise expert having presented masterclasses, workshops and seminars in 36 countries, leading to him receiving 2 industry awards. More recently he has spent time researching the boutique model both in the US and UK, being particularly familiar with 1Rebel, TRIB3 and the YARD.
In June 2016 the FitgroupUK summits brought together key opinion leaders to discuss the future of the group exercise industry. The common themes were then put online and the wider group exercise sector was invited to rank them and add their own views.
That work has helped set the initial agenda for the FitgroupUK Executive Panel however it doesn’t stop there. We want to hear from all those working in the group exercise sector to understand your hopes, fears, challenges and opportunities so that we can find a way to tackle the common themes together.
Please tick here to acknowledge that we will contact you to let you know about other group exercise activities/products/opportunities that we think you may be interested in.
EMD UK is the national governing body for group exercise, serving the needs of the group exercise sector. With decades of experience and a strong focus on insight, they identify and realise emerging opportunities and provide the necessary resources to support and develop the sector. EMD UK collaborates with both public and private bodies to ensure group exercise remains central to the government’s healthy nation agenda.
EMD UK’s mission is to increase participation in group exercise by supporting teachers and organisations to deliver excellence which in turn helps them work towards their vision of a healthier nation through exercise.
If you would like more information on EMD UK please click here to visit their website or follow @EMDForLife on Twitter.
I would like to register my interest in joining FitgroupUK's Executive Panel