On 5th February, EuropeActive met with a group of fitness enthusiasts in Warsaw, Poland, as part of the 2016 FIBO Innovation Tour. The purpose of the meeting was to come up with ways to improve instructor and trainer services in Poland and to put a “forceful stop” to the dishonest and dangerous practices of the multitude of uncredited weekend instructor and trainer courses found online.
Together with EuropeActive, members of the Polish Union of Fitness Employers (PZPF), as well as representatives of fitness club networks, training institutions, sport academies, trade unions and NGOs, agreed that the Polish fitness sector urgently needs to standardise its services and create a system of professional education for instructors and trainers that will meet the market requirements.
The good news is, the Polish government has recently passed a legislative act meant to do just that. But there is a flip side to the story.
The standards are coming
Here is the setting: in late December, the Parliament (or Sejm) of the Republic of Poland passed a piece of legislation called the Act on the Integrated Qualifications System. According to the government, thanks to the act, “diplomas and certificates from throughout the entire European Union will be able to be compared; the quality of courses and workshops will be defined; and Polish firms will acquire a new tool to confirm their competitiveness.”
Within the next few months, every sector in Poland, including fitness, will have to create descriptions of professional qualifications and implement procedures for certification and registration of people who have successfully completed relevant training. Makes sense, right?
The main concern is who will decide what the standards will be. “Do we want bureaucrats to create a professional training system for us?” asked Anna Szumilewicz, a member of the Professional Standards Committee at EuropeActive and a research assistant professor at Gdansk University of Physical Education and Sport. “We all agreed that we want to do it ourselves.”
At the meeting, EuropeActive’s Programme Director, Cliff Collins, presented two of the organisation’s existing projects as a way forward. Both EREPS and the Professional Standards Committee were greeted with enthusiasm.
“EuropeActive made an inspiring contribution to the discussion,” Szumilewicz said. “They presented solutions on the European level, including the EA Professional Standards and EREPS. We want to create a Polish register that will be consistent with the European one and will improve the prestige and credibility of our staff.”
The February meeting marks the beginning of a new stage for the Polish fitness sector. “The sector is strong but fragmented,” Szumilewicz said. “Will we be able to work together? Will we be able to forget individual interests in order to serve the market development by improving the quality of instructor and trainer services?”
As the unifying voice for the European health and fitness sector for over 10 years, EuropeActive has no doubt that this is possible and is offering full support and encouragement to the leaders of the Polish fitness sector.
For more information on the Polish health and fitness sector, go to the website of the Polish Union of Fitness Employers (in Polish).
The European Register of Exercise Professionals (EREPS) is an independent process for the registering of all instructors, trainers and teachers working across Europe in the exercise and fitness industry. It is a pan-European system, based on independent national registers, culminating in a central European database.
Registration means that as an exercise professional, you have met prescribed minimum standards of good practice, including the adoption of a Code of Ethical Practice.
About the EuropeActive Professional Standards Committee
The Professional Standards Committee focuses on delivering the objectives and outcomes of a strategic plan to promote the success of the EREPS and accreditation of training providers programmes. The plan recognises that it is only through a more widespread uptake and quality application of the occupational standards developed by EHFA and now EuropeActive, that there will be sufficient numbers of qualified professionals in the right place at the right time.
With the cooperation of over 200 experts, the standards have contributed to the creation and the improvement of the qualifications for exercise professionals and are presented in the fitness Sector Qualification Framework (SQF). The standards and SQF are fully referenced to the EU’s European Qualification Framework (EQF) as part of the Lifelong Learning Programme.