After 6 years of work by many experts from 10 different standards bodies, EN 17229:2019 Fitness centres -Requirements for centre amenities and operation- Operational and managerial requirements has now been published. The experts involved in the development set the criteria for fitness centres across Europe by specifying the minimum requirements for the provision of physical activity in fitness centres. This includes the operational and managerial procedures for offering and delivering the service together with requirements for selection and positioning of equipment as well as any associated facilities, if present.
EN 17229:2019 covers aspects of health and safety, but also other operational considerations including customer relationships, membership contracts, and the positioning of the fitness sector concerning the promotion of health-enhancing physical activity and anti-doping.
With over 62,000,000 people using fitness, it has become the most popular participation sport in Europe, and is increasing at around 4% a year. The fitness sector faces a challenge to ensure that its more than 60,000 fitness centres are positioned to provide safe places where their customers can exercise and around 6 years ago there was a collective agreement to develop standards which would define good practices, and to help improve club operations. EN 17229:2019 is an expression of the European diversity often also observed on the political level, mirroring different philosophies, business models and different perceptions, ideas and visions of safety and state of the art. The standard contains a common denominator regarding the requirements for the delivery of physical activity in a safe and controlled environment. It holds three main principles:
- sound guidelines on how to safely manage and operate fitness centers and to deliver their service to their customers,
- fundamental guidelines for an industry in transition and challenged by digitalization,
- harmonising rules with references and advice for an industry of which the services are increasingly delivered by supranational providers.
Cliff Collins, Programmes Director for EuropeActive said that “this new standard will now be promoted across the European fitness sector as a way to improve business through good practice that is based on a continuous improvement tool. An educational programme will be developed to help explain in detail what the standard means, and what has to be done for fitness centres to be standard-compliant. The core of the scheme proposed by EuropeActive will be around a benchmarking service that is reflected in improved customer experiences and which can eventually lead to a full audit and certification against the standards of EN 17229.”