Skip to main content

The leading lights in workforce development in the physical activity sector were toasted last night as ukactive unveiled the winners of the coveted Active Training Awards 2017.

Life Leisure came away with the most awards on the night, taking home Medium-Sized Employer of the Year as well as an individual gong as Danny Drayson from Life Leisure Grand Central scooped Outstanding Individual of the Year.

More than 250 thought-leaders from the physical activity sector came together at the Reading Hilton for the Active Training Awards, sponsored by Active IQ.

Among the other winners, Virgin Active landed the strongly-contested Large Employer of the Year award, while Training Provider of the Year went to Future Fit Training.

Judges noted the particularly high quality of entrants this year – a product of the sustained commitment to learning and development that permeates the sector.

This year’s victors represented the very best practice in learning and development, embodying world-class performance in areas that were discussed in detail earlier in the day at the Active Training Conference, which was delivered in partnership with CIMSPA and sponsored by Active IQ and Lifetime Training.

The Conference was opened by ukactive Chair Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson who addressed the challenges the sector has faced in the past 12 months. She urged the audience to pull together to drive real substantial progress on the skills agenda in the coming years.

Workplace diversity took centre stage during a stirring keynote from CEO of Amaechi Performance Systems and former NBA star John Amaechi. He noted that a diverse workforce promotes a greater understanding of the communities they serve, encouraging innovative solutions and a stronger pool of ideas.

Meanwhile, Recruitment and Employment Confederation CEO Kevin Green took attendees through the policy landscape facing the sector, exploring how to navigate the challenges engendered by the Apprenticeship Levy and physical activity’s absence from the Government’s post-16 skills plan.

Another highlight was a panel discussion on the future of Exercise Professionals, co-chaired by ukactive CEO Steven Ward and Royal Society of Public Health Chief Executive Shirley Cramer CBE. The discussion saw the panellists debate the new skills needed for exercise professionals to adapt and meet the changing needs of society.

Ward said: “If the physical activity sector is the golden thread running through society, its workforce is its beating heart and soul. We have to celebrate those employers and training providers who are dedicated to developing it.”

“The Active Training Awards offers an opportunity to celebrate those going above and beyond to develop world class workplaces.

“It’s fantastic to hear from judges of the continued rise in standard of finalists, demonstrating the strides the sector has taken in recent years in workforce development.

“The onus is now on us to use the Active Training Conference and Awards as a springboard for rapid progress on the skills agenda in the next 12 months.”

Jenny Patrickson, Managing Director of Active IQ, the headline sponsor of the Awards said: “It’s always a privilege and an honour to celebrate the best in our business and to meet the wonderful finalists”.

“These awards are so important in recognising those who lead the way as we innovate, improve, learn and develop as a sector.”

Tara Dillon, CEO of CIMSPA added: “As we continue to raise standards across the sector it is important we take the time to recognise those who lead the way and demonstrate best practice.”

“Huge congratulations to all the winners and the other finalists – we hope that their success sets the tone for improvements in the whole sector in the coming months.”

The full list of Active Training 2017 winners are:

Small Employer of the Year

York Sport

Medium Employer of the Year

Life Leisure

Large Employer of the Year

Virgin Active

Training Provider of the Year

Future Fit Training

Apprenticeship Provider of the Year 


Best Innovation 

Premier Global NASM

Specialist Training Programme of the Year


Transformational Leadership Award

1610 Ltd

Outstanding Individual of the Year

Daniel Drayson, Life Leisure

Outstanding Achievement

Active Tameside

Outstanding Achievement

Oomph! Wellness