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A shared mission to enhance industry standards has been announced today (9 April) as part of a landmark collaboration between the physical activity sector’s leading bodies.

As part of the development of The Active Standard (TAS), which is set to launch later this year, ukactive has been engaging with partners Sport England and Right Directions, (which delivers Quest), and The Royal Netherlands Standardisation Institute (NEN) and EuropeActive (which delivers the European FITcert Scheme).

The Active Standard will be open to all ukactive operator members, whether from the private or public sector, free of charge as part of their membership. The new standard has been tested through an extensive pilot scheme with representative operators from across the sector, supported by Right Directions.

Together, the partners have committed to support the alignment of The Active Standard with the sector’s existing standards schemes, so that more organisations across the UK are encouraged to begin or progress their continuous improvement journey.

Quest provides a continuous improvement tool for leisure facilities and sports development teams, designed to measure how effective organisations are at providing customer service, delivering operation and the wider impact it can have on the health and wellbeing of communities. It has been running for more than 25 years and is supported by Sport England, Sport Wales, Sport Scotland and Sport Northern Ireland as well as ukactive, CIMSPA, Chief Leisure Officers’ Association, Activity Alliance, LGA and SPORTA.

The European FITcert Scheme and quality mark comprises four levels, which are designed to enable all fitness centres across Europe to demonstrate compliance with EN 17229:2019, the European CEN standard that covers requirements for operations, management and customer service of all fitness clubs. The first two levels of the certification scheme are operated by EuropeActive and start with a statement of commitment and a self-assessment against the standard. The following two levels of certification are quality managed by NEN with independent inspection bodies.

The partners have agreed to share expertise and resources in order to establish a stronger ecosystem of industry standards that caters for organisations of all types and sizes.

While each of the standard’s schemes will maintain their unique position in the market, the offer has been designed to be complementary, ensuring clear and supportive pathways for accreditation and improvement, dependent on the needs of the site and the operator. Specifically, member operators which have achieved either Quest or Fitcert accreditation will automatically achieve The Active Standard accreditation.

The Active Standard is a baseline accreditation for ukactive members. Member operators will be required to register their facilities for them to be assessed on a quality scale. Acknowledging the different levels of knowledge and experience across the sector, some organisations will be able to evidence how they already comply while others will be supported to work towards achieving accreditation to TAS. Once completed, TAS certificates can be publicly displayed and promoted.

TAS will support operators and suppliers in the public and private sectors to demonstrate effective compliance with laws, regulations, and other formal requirements, helping to strengthen resilience to reputational and operational risk and contributing to safer participation for consumers.

The launch of TAS by ukactive will see the partners working together to establish and promote a comprehensive framework supporting operators in the public and private sectors.

It means operators of all sizes will have improved access to guidance for compliance to the latest regulations and legal requirements for health and safety in the UK and Europe.

Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said: “Consumer demand for our sector’s services is growing across the UK and Europe as more people prioritise physical activity for their health and wellbeing.

“At the same time, our sector is determined to raise standards of health and safety, and inclusion, so that we can continue to grow and meet the needs of every community.

“We are therefore delighted to bring together our partners, Sport England, EuropeActive, Right Directions and NEN, to ensure the full alignment of The Active Standard with existing sector standards to support all operators to improve consumer trust and confidence.

“Through this collaboration we can shape a brighter future for the sector by empowering operators in their pursuit of excellence.”

Emma Bernstein, Strategic Projects Lead at Sport England, said: “The launch of The Active Standard is an important milestone in supporting a journey of continuous improvement across the public leisure sector.

“Achieving a consistent baseline accreditation across ukactive’s membership will drive quality and increase confidence and we are thrilled that Sport England’s Quest service can support partners to secure this accreditation.

“It also opens the door to the wider Quest programme, as part of Moving Communities, to help and support facilities to strengthen their core operational standards, as well as demonstrate the positive impact they have on their local communities.”

David Stalker, President of the Board of Directors at EuropeActive, said: “EuropeActive is delighted to endorse ukactive’s Active Standard initiative. Launching it during the pivotal events of the European Health and Fitness Forum and FIBO week underscores our collective dedication to improving standards and creating a safer, more inclusive fitness community throughout Europe.

“This initiative marks a significant step towards enhancing trust and quality in our sector and showcases our united goal for a healthier future.”

Gill Twell, Head of Development at Right Directions, who led on the development and pilot of The Active Standard for Right Directions, said: “We are delighted to be working with ukactive and their partners to give operators a tool, alongside Quest that will assist them with their continuous improvement journey, as well as achieving a formal accreditation that will enhance their reputation, as well as that of our sector as a whole.”

Linda Kersten, head of the FITcert team within NEN, said: “The certification of fitness clubs through the FITcert scheme offers the fitness operators the opportunity to independently demonstrate that their operation is a healthy, hygienic, and safe environment.

“The need for certification became even more apparent during the COVID pandemic; fitness operators felt the urgency to prove to governments, insurers, and the customers that their operations are professional, safe and responsible environments. Developed by and for the industry; the Fitcert certification offers the fitness operators the tools to prove and convince the stakeholders.

“We are delighted to work together with ukactive to further enable UK clubs to demonstrate their compliance to EN 17229:2019.”

ukactive will be releasing more details of The Active Standard over the coming months. ukactive’s Standards and Legislation Committee represents the views of its members to ensure the timely development and dissemination of sector guidance. For more information, contact ukactive’s Risk and Standards Manager, Paul Crane: