Edwards to fill in for Ward

Huw Edwards will take over as acting CEO at ukactive when Steven Ward leaves at the end of April.

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CEO Ward announced his departure in February and ukactive has moved to confirm director of public affairs and research Edwards in the top job until a permanent successor is found.

Announcing the news in a brief statement on its website, ukactive said the board had agreed on Edwards’ temporary role and added that the recruitment process for the new CEO will commence this month.

For more information on ukactive, click here

Wainwright takes over at Sport and Recreation Alliance

Lisa Wainwright has been named as the new CEO of the Sport and Recreation Alliance.

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Wainwright has more than 30 years’ experience in the sport and physical activity sector and has served as CEO of Volleyball England in the past.

Following a short handover with outgoing CEO Emma Boggis, Wainwright will take up her post on 1 May.

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to lead the Sport and Recreation Alliance as its new CEO,” said Wainwright.

“I am passionate about sport and recreation and the wider physical and emotional benefits it brings to all who take part in whatever capacity.”

Welcoming the incoming CEO to the organisation, chair of the Alliance Andrew Moss said Wainwright’s “rich and varied experience gives her a deep understanding” of the challenges currently facing the sector.

Click here for more information on the Sport and Recreation

Xercise4Less appoints chief technology officer

Xercise4Less has hired Renier Pretorius in the newly-created position of chief technology officer.

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Pretorius was previously at WH Smith, where he was in charge of the retailer’s global IT architecture and strategy organisation, and the innovation team.

Jon Wright, founder of Xercise4Less, said: “Renier was the standout candidate throughout the interview process and we're thrilled to be bringing on board someone with such pedigree.

“Renier will be pivotal in implementing a fit for purpose architecture that improves the overall member experience.”

Pretorius added: “I am delighted to be joining a company that truly makes a positive difference in peoples' lives and am honoured to be leading the digital journey Xercise4Less is embarking on to revolutionise the fitness space.”

Lowe named as Scottish Swimming CEO

Scottish Swimming has appointed Euan Lowe as its new CEO.

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The Scottish Gymnastics CEO will take up his role at Scottish Swimming in June, replacing Forbes Dunlop.

Lowe has overseen a rise in gymnastics memberships during his time in charge of Scottish Gymnastics, with members growing from 17,500 to 30,000 since 2014.

“This is an incredible opportunity to work with a leading sporting body and being part of the team at Scottish Swimming,” said Lowe.

“For me, a sport is all about its clubs and the people involved, and I look forward to getting to know everyone as we take the sport forward.”

250k boost for Scottish sports clubs

Nine sports clubs in Scotland will share £250,000 in National Lottery funding to develop their programmes.

The latest round of sportscotland’s Direct Club Investment (DCI) will see clubs receive between £9,800 and £40,000, aimed at increasing opportunities to participate in basketball, beach volleyball, cricket, cycling, football, gymnastics, ice skating, swimming and volleyball.

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DCI is key to sportscotland’s strategy towards club development and increasing activity in underrepresented groups such as girls, young women, those with disabilities and people living in Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas.

Scotland’s sports minister Joe FitzPatrick said the funding would help more people get active, regardless of social setting.

“We want to ensure that everyone, no matter what their background or ability, has the same opportunities to experience the benefits of regular physical activity, and clubs and communities have a key role to play in our approach to getting Scotland active,” FitzPatrick said.

The clubs receiving support are Dundee Madsons Basketball Club, Dundee West Football Club, Ice Dundee (ice skating), Edinburgh Beach Volleyball Club, City of Edinburgh Volleyball Club, Edinburgh South Cricket Club, West Lothian Artistic Gymnastics Club, West Dunbartonshire Amateur Swimming Club and Glasgow Riderz (cycling).

“The clubs have demonstrated commitment to delivering more opportunities for people in their local areas to make physical activity a part of their daily lives. It’s fantastic to see the range of sports on offer,” added sportscotland lead manager Robbie Stewart.

Click here for more information on sportscotland,

Everyone Active growth continues with Midlands sites

Everyone Active has added 11 sites to its growing portfolio following the agreement of a number of new partnerships.

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The leisure operator will manage five sites in Leicestershire as part of the growth and six in Norfolk.

“As a company that started out over 30 years ago by running a single site in the Midlands, it is especially significant to have begun so many new contracts in this area,” said Everyone Active’s regional director Paul Dowling.

“All our partners share our ambition of improving lives through activity, and I’m excited to support them to achieve their health outcomes and improve the wellbeing of local communities.”

Leisure centres in Leicestershire that have come under Everyone Active’s control include Huncote’s Pavilion, Hood Park in Ashby de la Zouch and Whitwick’s Hermitage.

More than £5m will be invested at Huncote and Enderby Leisure Centre (already managed by the company) to improve facilities and create more opportunities for activity in the local community.

The Hermitage Leisure Centre will be replaced by a state-of-the-art centre in Coalville in 2021. Everyone Active will manage the development as part of its 25-year partnership with North West Leicester District Council.

In addition, a new partnership with Harborough District Council was signed at the start of April, which will see Everyone Active manage leisure centres in the Leicestershire towns of Market Harborough and Lutterworth.

Everyone Active has also signed a 10-year deal with North Norfolk District Council to manage six further sites, as well as oversight on the construction of a new £10m leisure centre to replace Sheringham’s Splash Leisure and Fitness Centre.

Getting fit like The Avengers

Les Mills has announced a new children’s workout to coincide with the release of the latest Marvel Comics film.

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Based on the fitness company’s BORN TO MOVE workout, the ‘Move Like The Avengers’ video features characters Thor and Black Widow leading choreographed routines that Les Mills said will have children “sweating and smiling in equal measure”.

The partnership between Les Mills and Marvel has been timed for the release of Avengers: Endgame, which arrives in cinemas on 25 April.

Featuring fitness trainers Diana Archer Mills and Bas Hollander, the “action-packed combat workout” uses live action, music and animated graphics to engage children and use their favourite comic book characters to demonstrate how exercise can be enjoyed as entertainment.

“The music and moves have been carefully choreographed, but getting active and having fun is the number one priority,” said co-presenter and Les Mills creative director Archer Mills.

In a statement, Les Mills said increased activity among young people is the main goal of BORN TO MOVE.

The company added that by using the “proven appeal” of the Marvel characters, it hopes to motivate not only children, but also parents and teachers who are seeking to inspire their families and classes into becoming more physically active.

“Being active and fit benefits everyone in many ways, but it also gives children the confidence to say ‘I can’ – and this is what inspires me,” said BORN TO MOVE creative director Janine Phillips.

“I love giving children the opportunity to realise their potential through physical activity, and ‘Move Like The Avengers’ really delivers on that.”

To find out more and access the workout, click here

Blyth Sports Centre set for £5m refurbishment

Northumberland County Council has pledged £5m in funding to modernise Blyth Sports Centre.

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Active Northumberland, which operates the centre on behalf of the council, will oversee the work to provide new and improved sport and leisure facilities.

Additionally, the creation of a wellness hub for the local community is part of the investment plans to increase physically active lifestyles in the area.

“Modern lifestyles mean that most of us are not as physically active as we should be, which can be detrimental to our long-term health, so it’s never been more important to provide great places for people to stay active and have fun,” said Mark Tweedie, Active Northumberland CEO.

“The centre is to undergo a major transformation incorporating some of the very best services and equipment. I’m sure that once people see the finished results, they will be as excited about it as we are.”

A tender process is currently underway, with work expected to begin on the new facilities in the autumn.

The refurbishment, which includes essential repair and maintenance work, will be carried out on a phased basis to minimise disruption and keep the centre open for the local community during the works.

British Cycling worried by Sport England report

The latest results from Sport England’s ‘Active Lives’ survey make for “uneasy reading”, a spokesperson from British Cycling has said.

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Sport England’s report, taken from a sample of 180,000 respondents, announced that overall activity was up among women, older adults, disabled people and those with long-term health conditions.

However, participation levels for cycling fell by 98,000 (cycling for travel) and 257,000 (cycling for sport/leisure) respectively in 2017-18 compared to the year before, statistics show.

British Cycling’s policy manager Nick Chamberlin said the decline is a result of less investment in traffic-free cycling schemes, and urged the government to “redouble its efforts” to get people back on their bikes through investment and improved infrastructure.

“The decline in levels of cycling in Sport England’s latest ‘Active Lives’ survey make for uneasy reading,” said Chamberlin.

“Our ambition is to transform Britain into a great cycling nation, and while our innovative programmes – including the programme for women and city centre events – continue to go from strength to strength, it is becoming increasingly difficult to encourage those who don’t currently cycle to get on a bike.”

Chamberlin added that issues such as potholes, speed of traffic and dangerous overtaking make riding a bike in Britain “intimidating and unpleasant, especially for those trying it for the first time”.

A report by market intelligence agency Mintel compounds the Sport England figures, showing that the number of cyclists in the UK has declined for the third consecutive year.

The research, published in April, found that cyclists have fallen from 38% of the population in 2015 to 27% in 2018.

Sport England CEO Tim Hollingsworth welcomed the overall activity figures, which show 498,100 more adults (over 16-year-olds) are doing at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week compared to 2018.

However, Hollingsworth also acknowledged the problems facing some sports and socio-economic groups.

“Things are moving in the right direction, however, stubborn inequalities remain, which show that sport and physical activity still isn’t appealing to everyone,” he said.

“We urge all sport and physical activity providers to think about the practical steps they can take to make their sports more welcoming and inclusive to all.”

Low-cost gym market has ‘room to grow’, says research

A recent report by professional services firm PwC suggests that there is opportunity for continued growth in the UK’s £5bn low-cost gym market, with room for roughly double the current number.

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Estimates in the report ‘UK Low Cost Gyms’, commissioned by the Gym Group, project “an overall opportunity” in the UK for 1,200-1,400 new low-cost gyms.

The market has been growing at about 4% annually over the last five years, with identified opportunities including catchments where there are no existing low-cost gyms and catchments with space for additional gyms.

Also used are international benchmarks from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands to “sense check” PwC’s results, the report states.

According to the report, the number of low-cost gyms has “increased tenfold” between March 2011 and December 2018 from a start point of around 60 to 654.

“High levels of rollout have resulted in increased levels of competitive intensity, but there has also been a broadening of locations in which low-cost gyms operate,” the report said.

The number of low-cost gyms in population catchments above 100k was 76% in 2014, compared with 69% in 2018, the report elaborates.

In addition to the Gym Group, companies in the low-cost market include Sports Direct Fitness, Xercise4Less, energie Fitness, and PureGym.

For the more information on the full report, click here.

Click here for more information on the Gym Group