Keep fit, thanks to new standard EN 17229 

After 6 years of work by many experts from 10 different standards bodies and countries, EN 17229:2019 Fitness centres - Requirements for centre amenities and operation - Operational and managerial requirements has now been published. The experts involved in the development set the criteria for fitness centres across Europe by specifying the minimum requirements for the provision of physical activity in fitness centres. This includes the operational and managerial procedures for offering and delivering the service together with requirements for selection and positioning of equipment as well as any associated facilities, if present.

EN 17229:2019 covers aspects of health and safety, and also other operational considerations including customer relationships and membership contracts. It underlines the positioning of the fitness sector concerning the promotion of health-enhancing physical activity and anti-doping.

Fitness, with over 62.000.000 active practitioners, has become the most popular sport in Europe, increasing at around 4% a year. The fitness sector faces a challenge to ensure that its more than 60.000 fitness centres provide safe places where their customers can exercise. Thus, around 6 years ago, there was a collective agreement to develop standards which would define good practices and to help improve club operations.

EN 17229:2019 is an expression of the European diversity often also observed on the political level, mirroring different philosophies, business models and different perceptions, ideas and visions of safety, and state of the art. The standard contains a common denominator regarding the requirements for the delivery of physical activity in a safe and controlled environment. It holds three main principles:

sound guidelines on how to safely manage and operate fitness centers and to deliver their service to their customers,

fundamental guidelines for an industry in transition and challenged by digitalization,

harmonising rules with references and advice for an industry of which the services are increasingly delivered by supranational providers.

Former convenor of CEN/TC 136/WG 2 Paul Eigenmann, who guided the development from the standard's beginnings, recalls the “ exhaustive discussions over eleven 2-day meetings to reach consensus on the content of this standard,  so important in view of the fact that structured exercise is going to one of the key elements of future public health efforts.”

Cliff Collins, Programmes Director for EuropeActive, the leading not-for-profit organisation representing the whole of the European health and fitness sector, said that “this new standard will now be promoted across the European fitness sector as a way to improve business through good practice that is based on a continuous improvement tool. An educational programme will be developed to help explain in detail what the standard means and what has to be done for fitness centres to be standard-compliant. The core of the scheme proposed by EuropeActive will be around a benchmarking service that is reflected in improved customer experiences and which can eventually lead to a full audit and certification against the standards of EN 17229.”

EN 17229 was developed by CEN/TC 136/WG 2 ‘Fitness centres’, whose Secretariat is currently held by NEN, the Netherlands’ Standardization for Organisation.

For more information, please contact Claire DALIER.