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Champion wellness with fitness professionals: 3 tips to get started

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Champion wellness with fitness professionals: 3 tips to get started

Photo courtesy of The American Council on Exercise and Alliance for a Healthier Generation

By Daniel W. Hatcher, Director of Community Partnerships at Alliance for a Healthier Generation. This post was originally published by BOOST Collaborative on the BOOST Breakfast Club Blog on September 13, 2018.

The nation’s celebration of afterschool, Lights On Afterschool, is just around the corner.

Now is a great time to engage new partners and participants in your out-of-school-time organization. This fall try something new by partnering with local fitness professionals to attract attendees and strengthen your organization’s commitment to wellness – who knows, you might get the attention of a new funder or political champion!

Not sure where to start? Here are 3 tips from my friend Haley Hopkins at The American Council on Exercise (ACE).

How can organizations team up with fitness professionals?

Start with social media; many exercise pros grow and advertise their business online and this can give you an inside look into their specialties and training styles. Another option is to reach out to local gyms and fitness studios to see if their staff would be interested in partnering with you. Stop by, try a new activity for yourself, and find a new collaborator!

Sometimes reaching the right exercise professionals with the proper training and skills to match your needs can seem like a heavy lift (pun intended!). The American Council on Exercise provides a free service to the public called Find an ACE Pro; easily search for partners by zip code.

Why should organizations work with certified fitness professionals?

Being a certified exercise professional means that you have met the highest standard of education requirements and have the skills to safely and effectively train individuals in physical activity programming. You can verify an individual’s credentials through a website called the United States Registry for Exercise Professionals, where you can see what certifications they hold and from what certifying organization it comes from. Certified exercise professionals are also required to take continuing education courses, and many times this includes becoming a specialist in a specific area, like youth fitness. The standards that certified exercise professionals are required to maintain is a clear indication that these individuals are committed to providing the best quality of programming possible.

Exercise professionals and out-of-school-time organizations share a common passion for quality training and practice. Organizations that collaborate with certified exercise professionals can broaden their programming and ensure that physical activities are conducted by experts. By working with afterschool educators, exercise professionals can reach more individuals with a message of healthy active lifestyles.

What are a few ACE resources that educators can share with staff and families?

ACE provides a free online walking toolkit for community organizations that highlights the benefits of walking and explains how to start a successful walking group. The toolkit also contains 52 fun walking facts great for newsletters and social media. Walking groups are also perfect, fun photo opportunities to use on your organization’s website and social media.

ACE has an infographic called The Cycle of Inactivity that shows the consequences of sedentary behavior from childhood through adulthood. This is great for staff break room bulletin boards!

ACE hosts several blogs written by experts that cover topics surrounding physical activity that can help organizations learn more about exercise programming.

Thank you, Haley, for sharing your tips and resources! Research shows that afterschool plays a critical role in keeping kids healthy and active; demonstrating that your organizational culture supports wellness is an important promotional tool that every educator should take advantage of this fall.

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