Swim scheme at Places for People Leisure leads the way in health care models
An innovative scheme to encourage more people to get active without stepping foot in the gym is going from strength to strength. Places for People Leisure are demonstrating continued success with their Swim4Health™ and SWIMTAG initiatives across the country as the social enterprise count over 6,000 swimmers signing up to the schemes every year.
The programme, which has been running for the past three years, appeals to individuals who are looking for a non-traditional route to getting fit. Swim4Health™ offers those interested in joining a leisure centre six weeks of unlimited access to their centre’s swimming facilities, including aquatic classes for between £20 and £28 ( depending on geographic location) . In addition, those who sign up to this six week membership will also receive a free day pass to the gym and a free studio class pass. They also get a consultation with an Aquatic Advisor who helps them set appropriate goals. After the trial has ended, those who do wish to join the facility as a full member, or a swim member, are also given an exclusive introductory offer as a further incentive.
Susan Rossetto, Head of Health & Wellbeing at Places for People Leisure, comments: “We wanted this scheme to act as an introduction to the pool for those individuals who hadn’t been swimming in a long time or those who were put off by exercising in a gym environment. We know that pricing can often be a barrier to many people wanting to join a leisure centre and so we offer this low cost option to allow individuals to fully experience our swimming facilities at a reduced fee.”
To tie in with the Swim4Health™ initiative, Places for People Leisure also provide free technology within the SWIMTAG scheme, which gives members the opportunity to track their activity by wearing wristbands in the pool which upload data from their swim. Places for People Leisure’s exclusive partnership with 222 Sports Ltd, who are the creators and suppliers of the SWIMTAG system, , provides users with further motivation as they are able to track their activity progress and help swimmers achieve their goals. When an individual enters their facility, they pick up a wristband from the SWIMTAG docking station at Reception, simply put it on and jump in the pool. When the wristband is returned, the individuals swim data is automatically uploaded, ready to be viewed on the member’s personal online SWIMTAG page. Here individuals can track actions such as how long they have been in the pool, how much time was spent actually being active, the distance covered and also the calories burned during the session. The system even recognises different strokes.
“All of our pools are equipped with SWIMTAG technology, enabling all members’ access to the technology at no additional charge. The data allows people to accurately measure their swimming activity progress as well as their calorie expenditure which encourages more frequent swimming. From our SWIMTAG statistics we know that with approximately 6,000 members using the technology, all of whom swim on a regular basis, these users collectively are covering around 40,000km and burning over 11 million calories every month.
“With the 2015 State of the UK Swimming Industry Report recently revealing that there has been a continued decline in swimming and Sport England revealing that 144,200 fewer people taking to the pool in the last six months, organisations in the sector need to work hard to address such a prevalent issue. At Places for People Leisure, we are incredibly proud to report that our swimming memberships are on the up, experiencing a growth of 18% and we believe that our innovative swimming initiatives definitely contribute to this progress,” comments Susan.
Currently the Swim4Health™ Scheme is halfway through an academic research project with Kingston and St. George’s University, London, where researchers are looking at the role of the initiative as an aquatic pathway for GP referral. “Our future goal is to encourage GPs and other healthcare professionals such as dieticians to partner up with schemes such as Swim4Health™ as an alternative or adjuvant model of care for their patients. With obesity being one of the highest and most critical issues on the public agenda, we want to help offer an activity solution for overweight individuals to help them prevent health problems. We know that swimming is often the activity of choice for those who are overweight as the water supports their weight and they often feel less self-conscious exercising in the pool,” adds Susan.
Places for People’s aquatic initiatives tie in with the latest report from ukactive, which calls for a personal trainer to be put in every doctor’s surgery and job centre to help tackle the UK’s physical inactivity problem. The plan, Blueprint for an active Britain, was launched last Thursday and urges the government to take action across the NHS, social services, workplaces, transport and built environment. Lack of exercise across society is estimated to cause around 37,000 deaths annually and costs the economy £20bn per year.
As a further incentive, Places for People Leisure is also looking to build upon the current scheme by providing rewards for those who use SWIMTAG. Bounts, the exercise reward tracking app, follows the amount of activity and exercise you do and rewards you with points or ‘bounts’ which you can then redeem as vouchers for the cinema, food outlets, sports stores etc. “We are always looking for new and innovative ways in which to further motivate communities to get active and by combining our swimming initiative with apps such as bounts, we maximise the possibility of this occurring on a regular basis.
“Interestingly, we have found that over 30% of our SWIMTAG users are over the age of 55, which is higher than the total percentage of those engaging under the age of 34. The government is trying to attract more over 50s to take part in physical activity, but many people believe that older generations are not so keen to utilise technology to do so. However our statistics prove that this is not the case and we would encourage other leisure operators to embrace similar schemes using technology to combat inactivity amongst older adults,” comments Susan.