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Leisure Management - Shaping up

Weight management

Shaping up


Losing weight remains a key reason why people join gyms. Kath Hudson looks at some of the innovative weight loss initiatives that are getting great results

Kath Hudson
weight loss initiatives

Avondale hub

Eighteen months ago the leisure centre in Avondale, UK – run by leisure trust Life Leisure – was losing £250,000 a year, but local protest meant it couldn’t be closed down. Pushed to come up with an alternative, Life Leisure MD Malcolm McPhail decided to turn it into a health hub and weight loss centre, investing £400,000 of the trust’s money.

“We chose to target non-gym goers by turning the usual offering on its head: no mirrors, no heavy weights,” says McPhail. “We added many new programmes: using behaviour change techniques, for example, and accelerometers to track activity. We even installed an anti-gravity treadmill, allowing clients to effectively reduce their body weight down to 20 per cent to lessen the impact on their joints while exercising.

“Beginner classes became the core of the offering and MYZONE was introduced: it rewards the effort people make, helping motivate less fit people to keep exercising. Members often have overweight families too, so a kids’ activity area with reaction walls was included.”

The staff, all qualified to Level 4, had to learn to react to each person on an individual basis: members needed a wide range of interventions and had different requirements for exercise. Many were too self-conscious to exercise in front of others, so portable barriers were brought in. Some were told they weren’t ready for the gym yet and were given alternative exercise plans, including walks in the neighbourhood and chair-based exercises (many received an accelerometer to track progress). Those with a BMI under 30 were referred to mainstream programmes at other Life Leisure centres.
Previously the club had 500 members; now it has 1500, 80 per cent of whom had never been a gym member before. Added to this, the loss was reduced to £70,000 in the first year of operation and the centre is looking to break even this year.

Public Health Stockport is interested in the development and the team has been asked to set up a health hub franchise, making the concept available to other organisations. The centre is also part of ukactive’s Research Institute study into the effectiveness of different physical activity interventions.

 



Avondale staff had to learn to react to each member on an individual basis
 


Beginner classes form the core of Avondale’s offer
 
Vivaslim

Vivaslim’s nutrition and coaching software provides eating plans and online tools to keep members engaged during the process of changing their eating and lifestyle patterns and behaviours.

Officially launched earlier this year, the plan categorises the member’s lifestyle based on their eating patterns – for example, identifying if someone is a ‘Night Time Nibbler’ – and their stress patterns, with character types including ‘Fast Pacer’.

Clubs can choose how to package and brand the programme, with Vivaslim providing the software: some include it in the membership; others offer it as a secondary revenue activity or incorporate it into their PT offering.

Constance Ruiz, president of Vivafit and Vivaslim, suggests it’s most effective if clubs hire a qualified nutritionist or dietitian. When the package was first run across Vivafit’s 45 clubs in Portugal, members were losing approximately 1.5kg a month; that increased to an average of 3kg once the nutritionist contact was introduced.

 



Before and after: On Vivaslim, people lost up to 3kg a month
 


Before and after: On Vivaslim, people lost up to 3kg a month
 
Everyone Active & Diet Chef

Everyone Active recently launched the third-party Diet Chef system to its members, giving them discounted access to Diet Chef’s healthy, calorie-counted meals.

People can sign up for one- to four-month packages. By entering personal details and weight loss goals, the dieter receives the suggested package to achieve these goals – either 1,200-calorie or 1,500-calorie a day hampers, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack. All packages are designed to help change eating habits and keep the weight off.

“Diet Chef is a great system because it educates people in what constitutes a healthy, balanced meal,” says Michelle Bletso, group fitness development manager for Everyone Active. “It’s not about sales or earning commission. We want to support members by recommending a reputable system.”

In University of Hull research, only 7 per cent of those using Diet Chef withdrew after 12 weeks, compared to 41 per cent of those following a dietician-supported, self-directed plan.

 



The Diet Chef day hamper includes three meals and a snack
 


The Diet Chef day hamper includes three meals and a snack
 
Nuffield Nutrition

At Nuffield Health, nutritional therapists are on-hand to develop a diet and lifestyle plan to suit each client’s lifestyle and body, involving identifying their unhealthy habits and giving them the tools to address these.

Henri McGourty, interim professional head of nutrition, explains: “In January, we relaunched our nutrition proposition. Everyone has different clinical requirements, so a bespoke and tailored diet plan is put together, including appropriate nutrients for the health benefit they are hoping to achieve and including foods they like.”

Nutritional therapy is part of the premium Wellbeing Membership (£109 a month, available at selected sites), which includes four 30-minute expert ‘touchpoints’ a year – with nutritionists, for example, but also covering services such as physiotherapy, PT and physiology. These experts are also available for standard members to access at an extra cost. “Members are experiencing significant changes to their health. This is particularly apparent when doing follow-up health MOTs,” says nutritional therapist Natalie Braithwaite.

Health improvements include weight loss, increased energy levels, improved sleep, reduction in stress levels, better concentration and lower cholesterol. Going forward, Nuffield Health will focus on embedding and consolidating the nutrition service at the 19 Nuffield Health Fitness and Wellbeing Centres around the country.

Momenta

Developed by a team of experts in the fields of psychology, nutrition and physiology, Momenta has distilled the science of weight management into 12 interactive, classroom-based sessions.

It was first developed in 2010 and was piloted for two years. Now it’s being delivered across the UK by a variety of organisations including Carlisle Leisure (CLL), which has seen an average retention rate of 75 per cent at 12 weeks of the programme at the two centres where Momenta is offered.

At CLL, members pay an initial fee to receive on- and off-line resources and then attend the weekly classes free of charge. Non-members can simply pay as they go to take part.

As well as weight and attendance, Momenta uses validated questionnaires to capture a range of other outcome data, including changes in anxiety, depression and self-esteem, nutritional choices and levels of physical activity. This is enabling CLL to attract funding from various sources including corporate and public health.

Andy King, MD at CLL, says: “The quality of the programme and outcome data shows we’re now able to offer a clinically effective weight management programme to anyone in Carlisle. We’re also growing an in-house team of dedicated health coaches who can apply the skills they learn in Momenta to support all our customers.”

 



In Carlisle, Momenta has seen a retention rate of 75 per cent at 12 weeks
Iverbridge Initiative

Independent club Iverbridge Health Club in Wakefield offers a kickstart plan to all new members to help with weight loss. Costing £50 on top of the membership, members are given a 28-day low fat healthy eating plan and four one-hour sessions with a PT. They’re expected to do a further two sessions each week on their own, replicating what they do with the PT.

At the start and end of the month they have their weight, waist and hip size measured, as well as BMI and resting heart rate. The average weight loss is 8.5lbs per person and a combined 4.5 inches around waist and hip.

For the second month, members are offered a 50 per cent discount on PT and small group training; take-up is 48 per cent. At the end of the second month, they’re given a fitness test to show how their strength and stamina has improved. “We give them the formula to carry on and get results,” says owner Richard Hill. “We haven’t lost a member since we opened three years ago, unless they became ill, pregnant or moved away.”

DLL Lose & Shape-up

Developed by a team of nutritionists and fitness professionals, David Lloyd Leisure’s Lose & Shape Up programme takes a whole body approach. As well as weekly group exercise classes, cardio and resistance training and PT advice, the programme offers a weekly weigh-in and group support, a 12-week menu plan and online support.

Participants learn about healthy eating, from portion sizes to regulating insulin levels, plus advice on eating out, choices of fat, proteins and carbohydrates and what to eat before and after exercise. Weekly meal plans, shopping lists, exercises and a progress tracker are available online.

On the January 2013 course, 800 members followed the programme, losing a combined total of 5,000lbs.

The top losers shed 20 per cent of their body weight.

In September 2012, DLL also launched a new healthy menu – DLicious – at its clubs, along with a new delicatessen range for juniors.

 



David Lloyd Leisure launched DLicious, a new healthy menu, at its clubs in September 2012
 


David Lloyd Leisure launched DLicious, a new healthy menu, at its clubs in September 2012
 
Weightplan for PT

Weightplan’s new Gym Training app launched for iPhone and iPad last month, combining workout plans, exercise tuition and nutrition know-how. Users choose muscle gain, weight loss or weight management goals and are given daily calorie targets: calories to burn off at the gym and calories to consume. 

There’s a food diary, meal plans and a large food search database covering all major supermarkets and restaurants. From an exercise perspective, there’s an activity diary to log daily activities and view calories burned, pre-installed exercises and workouts to follow, and results/progression tracking including body weight and measurements.

At the end of this month, the company will release an accompanying PT app. PTs will be able to record clients’ personal data and exercise programmes and provide them with the option of a nutrition plan to support their exercise programme.


Originally published in Health Club Management 2013 issue 9
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