Steven Ward named CEO of ukactive

Steven Ward named CEO of ukactive back to list

08 May 2017

Not-for-profit health body ukactive has today (8 May) announced the elevation of Executive Director Steven Ward to the position of Chief Executive Officer.


ukactive Chair Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and the organisation’s Board have promoted Ward after being impressed by his vision and leadership over the past two years since the departure of former CEO David Stalker.


The Board concluded that Ward was the “ideal candidate” to drive and deliver ukactive’s ambitious strategy and were eager to secure the long-term services of a man who has played a central role in the physical activity agenda.


Having joined the then-FIA as a policy intern in 2006, Ward’s rise through the ukactive ranks has coincided with a period of significant growth for the organisation and the physical activity sector that it serves.


ukactive’s members have driven a decade of year-on-year gym membership growth and the UK physical activity sector has mushroomed into a £7.7bn industry, according to the recent Rise of the Activity Sector report. Meanwhile, ukactive has increased its membership by almost 50 per cent since 2006, becoming the authoritative voice of the physical activity movement, with growing influence in both Westminster and the world of academia.


ukactive Chair Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson said: “Under Steven’s leadership the organisation has taken great strides over the last few years across a number of areas.


“Across policy, media, business, the investment community, research and innovation, ukactive is in a better position to support the vital work of its members and we as a Board are hugely excited by the direction in which Steven is taking this organisation.


“With a great team behind him, we’re confident that the sector can expect major progress from ukactive in the coming years as we intensify efforts, hand in hand with members and key partners, to get more people, more active, more often.”


ukactive CEO Steven Ward said: “I’ve greatly enjoyed my past two years as Executive Director, working with Tanni and the team to build on the legacy of Dave Stalker and Fred Turok, without whom nothing we are doing today would be possible.


“Our members are the bedrock of ukactive and our focus will always be delivering against their core commercial agenda. New ukactive initiatives such as ActiveLab and Future Leaders are starting to have an impact in this area and we’re now fully-focused on accelerating this momentum and injecting urgency into the physical activity agenda.


“As the impressive growth in today’s State of the Fitness Industry report underlines, the gym is the anchor of an active nation. In an increasingly on-demand consumer economy, where people can exercise outdoors and at home with a phalanx of wearable tech, today’s results show gyms remain the bedrock of activity routines and continue to achieve growth thanks to their focus on motivational expertise and a high-level service proposition.”


The new CEO has been instrumental in spearheading many key initiatives over the past decade. Ward has helped shape the rebrand from the FIA to ukactive, strengthened the body’s ties to key partners such as the Department of Health and Sport England, and driven ukactive's partnerships with major brands, most recently developing a substantial partnership with AXA PPP Healthcare.


Meanwhile In 2014, Ward and the policy team scooped the 2014 Public Affairs Award for Trade Association Campaign of the Year for driving almost £40m of additional investment into tackling inactivity at local authority public health team level through the landmark Turning the Tide of Inactivity report which subsequently led to a fundamental shift in government policy through the cross-government Sporting Futures Strategy.

About ukactive

ukactive is the UK’s leading not-for-profit body for physical activity, working with over 4,000 members and stakeholders across the UK. We champion the fun, enjoyment and benefits of being active and we facilitate big impact partnerships across the public and private sector.

We grow the value and importance of physical activity to society as a whole from cradle to grave. This also includes specific sub-sectors where we have developed significant stakeholder relationships including social, political, economic, health, technological, consumer, and financial.

ukactive provides leading research and evaluation, insight and thought-leadership, strategic project and stakeholder management, campaigning and promoting best practice for its partners.

For more information about ukactive, please contact Jak Phillips on 07958 119320, or

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