Social Fitness Report by Proludic | Sports Legacy Zone
TheSocial Fitness ReportA Picture of the Health and Fitness ofUK Community Leisure Facilities November 2011
“The legacy from London 2012 will not come fromthe event itself, but from what we do to activelyencourage and promote a greater involvement insports and leisure activities. This must start withinthe community parks and sports facilities thateveryone can access.”Roger Black MBE, Former European, World and Olympic Champion
The importance of Social FitnessPromoting active and healthy lifestyles is a key goal for government and shapes thepolicies that affects many areas for both the public and private sectors – including localgovernment, housing, health, leisure and community organisations.There are two parts to achieving this aim. Firstly educating and motivating people to takepersonal responsibility for their health, and secondly, ensuring all communities have accessto the facilities that allow people to turn their good intentions into action.This report examines both sides of this issue within the context of ‘social fitness’.‘Social fitness’ means the sports and leisure activities that can be undertaken free-of-chargewithin a community. It includes the use of local parks, play areas, pitches, courts, trails andpools that are freely accessible, with or without the use of a local authority leisure card.For the majority of people in the UK (61%) these are the only sports and fitness facilities thatthey use – meaning that the success of social fitness in a community is a crucial indicatorof its health.The research contained within has been conducted to help better understand the state ofsocial fitness in the UK. Our purpose is to help professionals working in sports and leisure,health, local and national government, housing and community associations to betterfocus on the goal of improving social fitness. About This Research The findings in this research are based on a representative nationwide survey of 2,000 adults. The survey was commissioned on behalf of Proludic in October 2011. The authors of this report are Steve Leigh and James Crawford. Both are communications and research professionals with over 25 years of combined experience working with the public sector, health organisations and community groups. About Proludic Over the last 20 years Proludic has become one of the world’s leading providers of play equipment, creating play and sports areas for children and adults of all ages.
Steve Backley and Roger Black“We both had very different journeys to reach the Olympic Games, but one thing we hadin common were the facilities and coaching that were provided within the communitieswhere we were raised. This gave both of us the window of opportunity that led us torepresenting Great Britain at international level.”“We believe passionately that encouraging social fitness, through good quality and freelyavailable community facilities is vital to promoting healthierlifestyles and a lifelong interest in exercise, personalhealth and sport.It is for this reason that we’ve givenour support to Proludic’s effortsto promote social fitness, such aspublishing and promoting thisreport and also through innovationssuch as its Sports Legacy Zoneconcept and the Virtual Coach.The Sports Legacy Zone is, a variedand high quality range of exercise,sport and play equipment forall ages, we have worked withProludic to create a range ofactivities and videos to supportand widen its use.Coaches, teachers, parents orindividuals will be able to accessthis material free-of-charge tolearn how to use the equipmentto improve different aspects ofphysical strength and stamina. Italso provides recommendationsfor how to use the facilities forteam activities and games.This support is also available as instructional videos that can be viewed at the park usingsmartphones, by scanning the QR codes displayed on the equipment.Through such activity and our partnership with Proludic we aim to engage young peoplein physical exercise that’s fun and support community coaches as part of the build up toLondon 2012 Olympic Games. With the aim of supporting the creation of a lasting legacy.”
Michael Hoenigmann: Managing Director, Proludic“As someone who has been involved in the play, sports and leisure sector for 20 years, Iknow how important it is to understand community needs.”“To be successful, schemes must provide something for everyone – young and old, ableand less-able, regular and casual users. This sounds simple, but every location and community has a complex blend of issues that need to be assessed on its own merits. Getting it right means happier, healthier and more cohesive communities. Getting it wrong creates failed public spaces that can take decades to put right. For this reason, we see our role as being that of expert advisor rather than a provider of equipment. This has led us to innovate with new ideas, both in terms of the schemes we create, but also ways in which we can help with the funding, community involvement and marketing of projects. This report is the next logical step in that process, a resource to help our professional partners to make better decisions and use their increasingly scarce resources to best effect. We aim to use this report to kick-start a series of debates with thought-leaders in the fields of health, housing, community, public policy, corporate-giving and education.In 2012, we’ll be gathering together all of this wisdom for a second report that will attemptto create a joined-up agenda for social fitness that will help all parties to understand howthey can work together more effectively.In the meantime, I’d welcome any thoughts or suggestions for future areas or study, orways in which we might be able to work together to promote the wider cause of socialfitness in the UK.”
Social Fitness in the UKWe asked 2,000 UK adults to consider 126 differentaspects of their (and their children’s) experiencesand use of the social fitness facilities available intheir communities.The results provide a fascinating insight into howsuch facilities are used and perceived. They alsoindicate what impact has been made by recentinvestment, such as the Labour government’s£235m investment in play through the Playbuilderand Play Pathfinder Scheme.Finally, we have examined what factors are mostlikely to increase use of facilities and social fitnessactivities, helping to focus future investment andplanning to support strategy and policy decisions.
The Need for Social Fitness FacilitiesTo determine the extent to which people rely on social fitness facilities, we examined howdifferent groups made use of free or paid-for facilities for their exercise.Finding: The majority of the population would have no exercisewithout access to social fitness facilities.• 61% of the UK population is totally reliant on free sports and leisure facilities for structured exercise (this group spends nothing on paid-for facilities)• This figure was highest for people in rural areas (71%) and for people over the age of 55 (74%)Finding: Social fitness facilities are used to heavily supplement theuse of paid-for facilities.• The average amount someone in the UK spends each month of the use of a gym or sports facilities is £11.61.• This spending was highest amongst groups with children in key stage 1 - 5 to 6 years – (£21.98) and key stage 2 – 7 to 10 years (£20.32).• However, these high spenders still show a significant need for social fitness facilities. The research shows that people spending over £20 a month on such facilities were also heavy users of social fitness facilities – those using free sports and leisure facilities at least twice a week.• This indicates that people with more active lifestyles use both free and paid-for facilities in parallel rather than as an alternative to each other.• The level of monthly spend would indicate that the use of social fitness facilities was at least the same if not greater than that of paid-for facilities.Finding: Over a third of the UK adult population is taking no form ofregular structured sport or exercise.• 36% of UK adults report that they pay nothing on sports or gym facilities and make use of free sports and leisure facilities less than once a month.
The Usage of Social Fitness FacilitiesFinding: One fifth of the population can be characterised as heavyusers of social fitness facilities.• 22% of the population use such facilities at least twice a week.• 7% are using facilities more than 4 days a week.• 2% are taking part in social fitness activity daily.• This group of users is most likely to be: • Between the ages of 25-34 • A parent with children living at home • For those children to be pre-school or in key stage 1 (5 to 6 years old). • To live in an inner-city area • Higher than average spenders on paid-for sports and gym facilities – most likely to spend over £20 each month. • For there to have been noticeable investment to improve the quality and availability of local facilities in the last 3 years. • For their use (and their children’s use) of social fitness facilities to be over 5 hours each week.Finding: One quarter of the population can be characterised asmedium users of social fitness facilities.• 25% of the population use such facilities between 2 and 4 times a month.• 15% are using facilities weekly.• This group of users is most likely to be: • A parent with a child under the age of 1 or over the age of 7 • To live in a suburban or semi-rural area • A significant spread of spending on paid-for sport and gym facilities (between £9.76 and £17.50). • To have access to best quality of free facilities, but for the availability and quality of those facilities to be most likely to have declined in the last 3 years. • For their children’s weekly use of social fitness facilities to be between 4 and 5 hours per week.
The Usage of Social Fitness FacilitiesFinding: Half the population can be classified as light users of socialfitness facilities.• 52% of UK adults use social fitness facilities once a month or less.• This group of users is most likely to be: • Childless or have children over the age of 17. • To live in rural or semi-rural areas. • To have to drive to the nearest social fitness facilities. • To pay below the national average for a gym or sports facilities (range between £4.83 and £9.76) • To have the lowest quality of social fitness facilities • To have seen the least investment in improving the availability or quality of facilities. • To use facilities considerably less than their children if they have any. Children’s use of facilities remains reasonably strong at between 3 and 4 hours each week.
Availability and Quality of FacilitiesFinding: Parks and playgrounds are the most accessible social fitnessfacilities and least likely to require a car or public transport.• 73% of people have access to a park without need for transport.• 59% have access to a play area, rising to 69% using transport.Finding: The average rating for the quality of social fitness facilitiesin the UK is remarkably consistent regardless of who you are andwhere you live. However, this is not due to consistent standards, butrather an even spread of very good and very poor areas.• In almost all circumstances the quality of facilities is rated between 5 and 6 out of 10. The UK average is 5.3 /10.• The only notable exception is in regional areas where the average rating is 4.94/10.• However – despite the average remaining consistent – there seems to be a fairly even spread of very poor and very good facilities.• 52% of respondents rate the quality of local facilities at 5 /10 or below. 1 in 10 area’s facilities are rated at just 1 or 2 / 10.• However, 66% of people rate their local facilities at 5 /10 or higher. A third of all facilities are rated at 7/10 or higher.
Evidence of InvestmentFinding: There is some evidence to suggest that investment hasimproved the availability of quality of facilities in the last 3 years.• Quality and availability is more likely to have increased than decreased.• Investment has had most significant effect in inner city areas – 29% report increase in both availability and quality (compared to UK average of 20% and 22% respectively).Finding: However, the impact of investment has been limited eitherto specific areas (inner cities) or to maintaining rather than improvingthe availability or quality of facilities.• 80% report no improvement in availability or a decline in availability in the last 3 years• 78% report no improvement in quality or a decline in quality in the last 3 years The Impact of Good FacilitiesFinding: People place a very high value on having good qualityfacilities for social fitness activities:• 67% would be influenced to move to an area by the quality of facilities• 92% believe good facilities contribute to health and well-being• 90% believe social fitness plays a role in promoting positive communities• 77% believe investing in social fitness should be a priority for public investmentFinding: Investment in the quality of social fitness facilities has acorrelation with increased use – more so than other factors such asavailability of facilities.• 50% of those using 4 to 5 times per week reported an increase in quality of facilities, compared to 14% of those using less than once a month• The quality of facilities was rated highest by once a week users (5.9) and lowest by less than once a month users (4.9)
What’s Next?During 2012 Proludic will be leading a series of initiatives to examine how to use theseinsights to support the role social fitness plays in improving the nation’s health and well-being.We will be seeking participation from experts and partners within specialist areas such as: • Health • Local Government • Central Government • CSR • Education • HousingOur aim will be to examine the issues raised by this report and lookat how we can turn this insight into actionable change – ultimatelycreating an agenda for improving social fitness in the UK.By timing this activity to coincide with London 2012, we hope to contribute to thediscussions around how to achieve a meaningful legacy that increases participation insport and contributes to greater health and fitness.We will also be working with partners on innovative ways to improve the quality of socialfitness within the UK – according to our research the biggest single driver of increased useand participation.One initiative will be continuing to look at ways to promote the supported use of socialfitness facilities through our partnership with Steve Backley and Roger Black.As well as rolling out the Sports Legacy Zone concept, we’ll also be working with localcommunity groups, schools and coaches to make better use of the social fitness facilitiesat their disposal.Keep an eye out for some of our social fitness challenges, usingdigital and social media to raise awareness and allow people to ‘takeon’ the Olympians.We will also continue exploring new ways to help unlock the funding required to improvesocial fitness facilities – both in terms of identifying the funds that are available andexploring new models for public/private partnerships, corporate CSR and ways to makeschemes self (or part) funding.
We see our work in promoting social fitness as acollaborative exercise that requires the input ofindividuals and organisations across a wide rangeof specialisms and disciplines.If you would like to be involved, please registeryour interest by contacting Dave Bailey at ourNottingham Office: Proludic Ltd The Pump House Abbey Road West Bridgford Nottingham NG2 5NE tel: 0115 982 3980 fax: 0115 982 3985 email: firstname.lastname@example.org You can also follow our progress at www.proludic.co.uk/socialfitness Or via our Facebook page www.facebook.com/sportslegacyzone