Oldham Active (Oldham Community Leisure) is partnering with Oldham College to upskill its staff to provide specialist health and fitness support for local children and young people, ahead of the launch of new young people-only group exercise classes.
The partnership will initially see 30 members of Oldham Active’s workforce completing the specialist Level 2 Qualification in Leading Physical Activity for Adolescents at Oldham College.
The collaboration follows a boom in the number of young people signing up for a Young Person’s Membership, with 20% of Oldham Active’s total members now aged 11-18 and one third of new members being a young person.
Oldham College offers a wide range of technical and professional qualifications, training around 4,500 teenage and adult students annually across a wide range of full and part-time courses, apprenticeships, T Levels, and higher education opportunities. The college will be putting the Oldham Active staff through the training to help the charitable leisure provider meet the demands of the community.
Lauren Connis, Group Health and Fitness Brand Manager says: “We are excited to further expand our offer to young people in the area. However, to do this safely and effectively we need to ensure our staff have the correct qualifications.
“The expert training Oldham College is providing means our staff will have the key skills to adapt physical training for young people, taking into account their specific physiological needs. It will help our staff to teach, plan and advise young people on how best to exercise, plus support them on how to best communicate with teenagers. Our staff, aged 20 – 68, are thrilled to go ‘back to school’ to help with their own personal career development.”
Simon Jordan, Oldham College Principal and Chief Executive, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for us to use our staff’s expert knowledge to upskill Oldham Active staff and help to meet the growing demand from young people who want to make positive choices about their health and wellbeing.
“This is a really great example of how our strong relationships with local partners are delivering significant social value – and also helping to fill skills gaps in order to respond to the changing needs of our local economy and communities.”
Edimar Malu, an Oldham Active Fitness Instructor who recently completed the training says: “Through this qualification I gained valuable insights into adolescent development and their specific physical requirements. A lot of emphasis was placed on maintaining a high level of professionalism and fulfilling the duty of care when working with young people.
“The course has not only enhanced my confidence in working with adolescents but has also equipped me with the skills required for training and supervising them effectively during my shifts.”
Connis explains: “We are constantly reviewing our memberships and offers to reach out to our community and make a real-life impact on the borough’s health and wellness, so we are really proud of the significant uplift in young people using our facilities. Recent findings show that 26 per cent of Year Six children in Oldham are already obese. We want to help combat this and are keen to establish healthier life choices in young people for the long term. Helping young people to feel relaxed and confident in our facilities is paramount, as it will help them to navigate and seek out physical activity as they get older and have families of their own.”
Oldham Active first introduced its Young Person’s Membership in October 2021 and is further developing the membership, launching young people-only group exercise classes, including its unique class, BLAST, using TechnoGym’s specialist curved treadmills, Skill Mills, SKI ergs, which replicate Nordic ski function movements, rowers, free-weights and other pieces of functional training kit. It is also working collaboratively with Les Mills to introduce young persons’ Body Balance (inspired by yoga/tai chi/Pilates), Combat and Born to Move for 11 to 15 year olds in the new year.
Connis explains: “We have to respect that young people may not want to participate in group exercise classes with older people. If we want to engage with young people, the venue, the type of class, the teacher and the participants all need to feel relevant and youthful. It also protects our existing classes and timetables, where our adults may not feel comfortable exercising with teenagers.”