As the year draws to a close, it’s clear that the pandemic and its fallout have dominated the sector’s growth, but it has not been dwarfed by it. As we head towards Christmas, we want to give you a taster of what we think will be in store for the coming year. We believe that alongside many of the bumps we’ve seen along the way, there are going to be plenty of opportunities to take advantage of in 2022.
Supporting extra needs for children
It’s been hard for kids, no question. The problem is that extended time at home has shown just how close to the edge we were in the UK. Latest NHS statistics show that obesity has increased past pre-pandemic levels for children. The issue worsens when we focus on underserved communities. Even children that fall within healthy parameters have seen major decreases in their overall fitness.
Social skills continue to be hurt by outbreaks and the use of bubbles. With academic and fitness targets ever-present, looming COVID-19 protocols have made it difficult to resume normal teaching styles. Activities companies will need to fill the gap with not only sport but sport with purpose. Combining better fitness with literacy and numeracy skills are going to be a necessity if schools are to meet their targets.
Investment in “levelling up” for adults and children
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has taken great pains to discard the image of the Conservatives, as the party of thrift. The Autumn budget revealed bags of investment in lifelong skills, Early Years Childcare, and fitness initiatives. Filed under their Levelling up Agenda, the investment includes greater support for apprenticeships, adult lifelong learning, and holiday care for children.
However, it’s been commonplace to hear the shortcomings of the Budget. In a statement released by Sport for Development Coalition, many opportunities for joined-up policy commitments with sport as a developmental pathway had been missed. The organisation, representing some well-known names like CIMSPA, ukactive and Youth Sport Trust, felt the role of sport had not been fully considered. Despite positive outcomes from sports-based pathways, the real significance of the sector had yet to be realised in areas like the criminal justice system health and social care.
2022 onwards is looking like the year of ROI. That’s right. Return On Investment. If the sector is to prove what it already knows to be true, then understanding the impact with data is necessary. Before the pandemic, reducing the percentage of young people not in Education or Employment (NEET) was important to the government. Now with much of them having been the first casualties of the pandemic, showing how well they have recovered will need to be a focus if we are to secure future investment.
The fitness and training boom
The fitness sector is no stranger to people hopping into the gym come January. As we look to 2022, the resilience of the sector shown throughout the last 18 months has brought with it a great deal of adaptation. Just look at Pure Gym. Their app has won UK health and fitness app of the year after they made it public as opposed to a members-only zone.
Tech has played a major role in adaptation. It’s that adaptation that has produced more than 300 new gyms and fitness environments in the last year despite the pandemic. Why? Because many people who spent time working from home re-dedicated themselves to fitness with online packages. The demand for fitness equipment rose steeply through 2020 and 2021 and fitness and activities companies switched their services online to keep people moving.
With so many fitness environments having opened, training and upskilling in the sector will be a must. From marketing to strength and conditioning, it’s a great time to market expanding their skills. People are also prioritising healthier products and for younger groups, there is a strong drive towards sustainability. This fits great with building confidence in active travel like cycling, where often confidence on roads is low amongst certain demographics.