The second in the series of National Fitness Association Roundtables took place on 31st March with 21 delegates attending. The virtual meeting was hosted by David Stalker acting CEO of EuropeActive and started with an update on the current situation affecting the European fitness sector and the proposed changes of priorities being forwarded by the European Commission in response to the Covid-19 crisis.
The proposed top-level multiannual financial framework budget for 2021-2017 (which sets the limits for EU spending – as a whole and also for different areas of activity), is now going to be extensively changed as a reaction to the crisis. Delegates were informed that priorities for spending will be changing and there will be significant opportunities arising for the fitness sector.
EuropeActive had drafted a declaration of support of the European fitness and physical activity sector which was discussed and then agreed (you can read the declaration here). The Declaration can be used to help address sector issues with the leaders of national governments and their agencies in a coordinated response that our gyms, expert trainers and training academies remain “open for business” but need fiscal and structural support.
The Declaration is signed by all national associations and a petition will be opened for other leaders and members of the fitness community to sign as their gesture of common support. Several national associations mentioned that planning is already underway to start looking at requirements and good practices to re-open the fitness centres, when the COVID-19 measures are being weakened or lifted. It is important the fitness sector is well prepared for this process and works proactively to restart activities in a responsible way and this will be a topic for future Roundtables.
Julian Berriman EuropeActive’s Director of Professional standards emphasised the importance of retaining fitness professionals as the frontline of the sector. He said “national associations have a vital role in supporting fitness instructors and trainers during this difficult period. The European Register of Exercise Professionals (EREPS) is a vehicle for uniting exercise professionals to provide mutual support, and to galvanise the industry being an army of professionals at the very heart of communities across Europe”.
As there is a switch to more promotion of exercise at home and the use of digital technologies he asked the national associations to think about finding and supporting trainers who could become “heroes” in providing video content for the #LetsBEACTIVEathome campaign. This is rapidly growing and is being seen as an essential source of good practices to help people with their physical, social and mental wellbeing during times of isolation.
The next Roundtable will have a focus on the possibilities of reducing VAT on membership fees and preparations for the re-opening of clubs. Andreas Paulsen, acting President, concluded the meeting by inviting all national associations to share information with EuropeActive and to follow EuropeActive’s COVID-19 webpage.
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