With the number of children learning to swim at its health clubs doubling in the last 18 months, swimming participation has become a key focus for Nuffield Health.
By bringing its third-party swim school providers in-house and offering lessons to non-members, last year more than 10,000 children learnt to swim in Nuffield pools and the organisation hopes to increase this by at least a further 2,000 by the end of 2016. Operating 75 commercial swimming pools across the UK, Nuffield Health is one of the country’s leading providers of leisure management services.
Employing over 10,000 people across its gyms, hospitals, medical centres and support centre, Nuffield Health says its mission statement is ‘to support, enable and encourage people to improve their health and wellbeing in order to help them get the most out of life’.
With this in mind, the organisation was recently recognised at the ASA Annual Aquatic Awards and was presented with a Special Recognition Certificate to acknowledge the increasing number of children who are being taught to swim via its Fitness and Wellbeing Gyms.
“We have seen a trend in the industry of swimming pools being closed and one of the biggest challenges that the leisure management sector faces is to keep pools open,” explains Sean McBurney, National Group Exercise and Swim Manager at Nuffield Health.
“We know how popular swimming is with our members and want to make it as accessible as possible.”
Despite swimming being one of the most popular sports, ASA figures show that one in five adults are unable to swim. Sean says that one of the challenges for the leisure management sector is to engage with these adults and encourage them to realise that it is never too late to learn to swim in order to ensure that the next generation of children don’t miss out.
Increasing adult participation is the next goal for Nuffield Health, which hopes to increase figures from 600 currently, to at least 2,000 over the next 12 months.
“We’re keen to continue helping more people learn to swim in 2016,” says Sean. “To encourage this, we are currently making one-to-one and group adult swimming lessons more widely available at our fitness and wellbeing gyms. We want to help more people experience the benefits of swimming, whatever their age.”
Sean continues: “We have also been providing opportunities for staff from other areas of the business, for example offering our personal trainers to train as swimming teachers or Swimfit instructors. This not only provides staff with an opportunity to develop their skills and engage with swimming, it enables them to highlight the benefits of swimming and pool based workouts to their clients, introducing more and more people to swimming.”
Nuffield Health has delivered health services for over 50 years. From 2007 onwards, the not-for-profit healthcare organisation diversified from being a pure-play hospital group with the acquisition of the Cannons Health & Fitness chain. Since then, it has acquired the Greens Health & Fitness chain of gyms and, more recently, nine gyms from Virgin Active in the summer of 2014 and two additional clubs in London last summer – CityPoint Club in Moorgate and Market Sports in Shoreditch.
Currently Nuffield Health operates a total of 77 fitness and wellbeing centres in addition to 31 private hospitals. Of those, its stand out centres include St Albans and Surbiton, which both have separate training pools for swimming lessons, Tunbridge Wells which has an extensive swim programme and Wolverhampton which has both an indoor and an outdoor swimming pool.
Says Sean: “Leisure providers need to ensure that they continue to invest in their swimming facilities. By offering access to pools, the swimming experience is convenient and enjoyable, meaning that people will remain engaged with the sport.”
Tel. 0370 218 4275