ukactive last night (30 November) revealed the winners of the coveted Active Training Awards at a glittering ceremony celebrating the leading lights in physical activity sector learning and development.

More than 250 delegates from the physical activity sector gathered at Reading Hilton for the Active Training Conference and Awards, sponsored by Active IQ.

The culmination of three months of rigorous assessment by an independent judging panel, the awards were presented by James Pearce, TV presenter and broadcaster for BBC Sport. Winners included GLL, Future Fit Training, Les Mills UK, Body Transformation Academy, and Places for People and ICON Training.

Individual Activity Champion of the Year was Richard Scrivener, a fitness professional from Train Fitness International Ltd, who also picked up an award for Best Use of Technology.

The judges noted that all finalists demonstrated an exceptional commitment to workforce development, with Outstanding Achievement awards given to Active Nation, Lifetime Training and Jubilee Hall Trust.

This year’s winners embody many of the themes from the Active Training Conference, which preceded the Awards. The event took an in-depth look at some of the biggest issues facing the sector today, such as training of the workforce, fostering innovation, and laying the foundations for long-term success.

The Conference was opened by ukactive chair and crossbench peer Tanni Grey-Thompson, who gave a status report on the progress made in the past 18 months, along with an analysis of the challenges still to come. It came in the wake of news that Nuffield Health has joined into an employment and skills partnership with CIMSPA.

This was followed by a keynote session from Professor Miquel Lladó, the Academic Director for the ukactive Future Leaders Programme and a Strategic Management Lecturer at the world renowned IESE Business School in Barcelona, who outlined the secrets to building a winning culture within the workplace.

In addition, Hilary Tysoe, the recently-appointed People Director at Virgin Active, reflected on the importance of creating a forward-thinking culture within the workplace, and the role that major employers have to play on the wider sector’s workforce development.

A session on A New Strategy for Workforce Excellence brought together Nick Pontefract, Head of Sport at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport; Sport England Director of Sport Phil Smith; and CIMSPA CEO Tara Dillon. The trio shared the stage for a session addressing the development of workplace excellence in the sector, aligned to the new government and Sport England strategies for physical activity and sport, as well as the ongoing efforts of CIMSPA.

A highlight of the afternoon was the panel debate on the role of the physical activity sector as the preventative frontline for the NHS, which included contributions from ukactive Research Director Dr Steven Mann and National Lead for Adult Health and Wellbeing Dr Justin Varney. The panel discussed in depth how the ‘miracle cure’ of physical activity can be embedded into the healthcare system through increasing collaboration between exercise professionals and primary health providers. 

Steven Ward, ukactive Executive Director said: “Augmenting a world-class workforce is one of the biggest priorities for the physical activity sector as we seek to unlock its latent potential and transform the health of the nation.

“The Active Training Awards offer a great opportunity to take stock of our progress and recognise the success of those companies and individuals who are leading the way. I’d like to say a huge well done to all of the winners and finalists, who together have demonstrated a real commitment to building a better workforce and driving our sector forward.”

Jenny Patrickson, Managing Director of Active IQ, said: “Every year these awards highlight inspiring examples of excellence in the training and development of our workforce.

“The 2016 Active Training Awards celebrate the significant strides the physical activity sector is taking in terms of developing a world-class workforce and creating a culture of innovation and excellence.“

Tara Dillon, Chief Executive Officer, CIMSPA added: “I am very pleased to see award winners duly recognised for their efforts in terms of professionalising our workforce, building a winning culture and continuing to improve our training and skills base.

“All of the finalists and the sector as a whole can take credit for the progress made in the past 18 months, while understanding that we must continue to elevate standards moving forward.”