Introducing Activity Growers and the Activity Grower Academy…a part of the Sports Marketing Network

Training and support to attract and retain more inactive people into physical activity

There is an increasing focus on how community sport and physical activity providers can improve the way they engage with people who are not currently active.

Active Lives research covering England reported that 40% of the adult population of England, are active for less than the recommended 150 minutes a week. And 47% aren’t engaging with sport and fitness at least once every two weeks. Physical inactivity contributes to nearly 2,500 deaths in Scotland and costs the NHS around £91 million per year.

But unfortunately, for quite some time many, if not most, coach education programmes have ignored the difficult, but crucial point, of attracting, welcoming and retaining all those people who have had negative experiences with sport and physical activity in earlier life.

aining people to activate inactive people has for been for a while been almost ignored, whereas there are an awful lot of support for people who want to become better sports coaches.

Technical skills are still important if you want to keep enjoying your rugby, parkour or cricket. So, we should keep running education programmes for coaches within those sports and others, but do not expect the number of people playing that sport or generally being active to grow, just because the ‘converted’ improve, say, their golf swing, back stroke or swing bowling.

Yes, there is evidence that good, quality coaching improves the likelihood that people will stay active for longer. However, too many coaches/instructors are guilty of focusing on the talented participants and ignoring the shy, less sporty, participants in the back. And then they can’t understand why those people don’t come back.

Inactive people want to enjoy themselves, have fun, improve their skills and be part of a welcoming social and sporting experience. Yes, if possible, they want to develop their skills, but they want to do so in an engaging way; they don’t want to be put under undue pressure from an over-ambitious and zealous coach.

So, we need to distinguish between ‘sports coaches/fitness instructors’ and the ‘activators/hosts’ who get inactive people into regular activity: We call them Activity Growers.

An Activity Grower is a person who removes the barriers inactive people experience when wanting to become more active and then focus on keeping them motivated, engaged and active.

The Activity Grower Academy…where you can learn how best to get inactive people physically active.

Real success stories, examples, tools, templates and to-dos…ready for you.

The Academy will provide workshops, webinars, guides and networking opportunties

Who is it for?

The Academy is at Local authorities, governing bodies of sport, County Sports Partnerships, Community Sports Hubs universities and colleges, community groups, public health bodies, leisure trusts and other providers of physical activity.

The six steps to become an Activity Grower:

Each module includes

  • A 3-hour workshop
  • A Guide/workbook
  • 45 minute follow up webinar
  • Membership of the The Activity Grower Network

Step 1 Introduction to growing physical activity

This modules provides participants with an introduction to the thoughts, tools and to-dos on how to get inactive people more active:

  1. How to link up with inactive people based on their age, health condition, ethnicity, demographics, and/or location
  2. Welcoming people in ways that suit all
  3. Providing experiences which all types of participants can enjoy
  4. From flyers to Instagram – efficient and effective communication
  5. Developing the enterprise culture and skills which can help ensure lomg-term sustainability

Step 2 Engaging with local communities and people

This module covers how best engage with and involve your local community and become than ‘just that fitness place’ and become a hub for your community:

  1. How to understand the community around you from: faith, Ethnic groups/clubs, faith groups and centres, neighbourhood associations, housing associations, groups from wards/parts of your city, youth clubs and groups (formal and informal), etc.
  2. How to involved connectors withion your community. Connectors are people who know lots of people; they are not always leaders. A connector has a different role in the community
  3. How to become networked with your community
  4. How to develop shared values with your community. This can can be defined as a new kind of partnership, in which both the club and the community contribute directly to the strengthening and development of each other.
  5. How to draw up a list of your current and potential community partners, their needs, your skills and contacts

Step 3. Welcoming newcomers

Being welcoming is about developing and maintaining a culture where everybody communicates and forms some type of relationship within your environment; be they long-standing participants, newcomers or guests. We must developing a ‘welcoming’ philosophy and see your club through the eyes of the newcomer

This module will therefore focus on

  1. How to develop a welcoming culture
  2. How to get pre-arrival right: – telephone and email enquiries, website content asnd class bookings
  3. How to help newcomers ease into the place, so the initial ‘like-first-day-at-school’ nerves disappear and they become advocates
  4. How to make sure that when you attract new people, you really have to conscious of who they are and what you are offering and if that fits in with their needs
  5. How to make your place and sessions welcoming and visible

Step 4 How to create great experiences for all

The focus is to ensure that people with different needs all feel they are being looked after and where members, parents, supporters, staff and volunteers are all focusing on creating great sporting and consumer experiences. We are all different, so what you think is a great experience, may not be the same to a 26 year old recreational player or a 42 year old ‘returner’.

This module includes:

  1. How to ‘listen to people’s lives’ and create really great experiences
  2. How to use ‘buddies’ to ease the pathway from inactive to regular
  3. How to see your classes and propositions through the eye of the participants
  4. How to develop a ‘customer-first’ culture
  5. How to get real and honest feedback from participants

Step 5 How to tell your story through photos, videos and hashtags

Successful providers of physical activity programmes all use social media extensively. They know that they have to build engagement and loyality they have build a community, both on – and off-line.They know that creativity, honesty and imagery are key ingredients in that process and they are always willing to innovate and learn. This module follows their lead:

  1. How to grow your networks on social media
  2. How to encourage participants to share their experinces at your classes with their social networks
  3. How to become a great storyteller
  4. A picture paints a 1000 words: Videos, photos, colours
  5. How your social networks can become part of the customer experience and help build brand loyalty

Step 6 How to ensure long term financial sustainability of your project

Some physical activity programmes are project-funded whereas others are funded by user-payments. Unfortunately, we have seen too many cases where providers have ignored the long-term financial sustainability of their work and have had to stop the otherwise great work they are doing. Other providers are able to fulfil their mission of getting inactive people active while running a viable enterprise. So how do they do that?

This module will cover how best to secure the long-term financial sustainability of your great work:

  1. How to demonstrate the impact and value of your work to funders (and others)
  2. How to create the right balanced income-model for your project
  3. How to develop innovative add-ons which can generate income
  4. How to build services and experiences that are so great that participants will really want to pay for them
  5. How to become sustainable community sports enterprise

The Activity Grower Academy will also provide a series of intermediate level modules including

  • How to use social media to engage with inactive and participants
  • Engaging with people with disabilities
  • Developing and delivering community activity events
  • How do develop innovation and enterprise in physical activity

Who is behind the Activity Grower Academy

The Academy forms part of the Sports Marketing Network/Idræt på Tværs a leading provider of information and advice on how to develop more innovative and enterprising solutions on how to create vibrant, visible and viable community sport and physical activity.

For more than 10 years SMN has been working across the UK and Denmark using conferences, workshops, webinars and consultancy to support and inform.

The Activity Grower Academy sits alongside 3 sister events:

Et sundere Danmark gennem Idræt og Motion

…sådan kan Idræt Motion og Sundhed arbejde sammen og få flere danskere mere aktive

11th May 2017, Islands Brygge Kulturhus, Copenhagen

A healthier Scotland through sport and physical activity

how we can work together to make Scotland healthier by  getting more people, more active, more often

A one-day conference on how we can develop community sport and physical activity for everybody, all through life, and make a contribution to a healthier society

12th September 2017, University of Stirling

Everybody Active, how?

How we can work together to make people healthier by getting more people, more active, more often

A one-day conference on how we can develop community sport and physical activity for everybody, all of life, and make a contribution

25th October 2017, Villa Park, Aston Villa FC, Birmingham

 Want to learn more, then contact Svend Elkjaer on 01423 326660

or email


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