Public S&C

Strength and conditioning in the UK is still very much a growing field. There are evermore practitioners starting careers, all eager to work with performance sport and apply their theoretical background to the real world. The main issue is that there are only a finite number of positions within performance sport, and it is unlikely that that number will dramatically increase. There is though an area that I think strength and conditioning can and should have a massive impact.

I did some work recently with someone who was preparing to go on a skiing holiday. They presented with a lot of the issues I’ve discussed in recent posts on S&C for skiing. This person was mid thirties and about to spend 4-6 hours a day for 5 days undertaking fairly high intensity exercise. We went through a very mild warm up activity, and after a minute had to stop to catch breath. Later in the session we were going through some basic exercises. A bodyweight squat, hands out in front and not even a quarter squat was achieved before knees very nearly touched together and the heels came off the floor. This person then expressed to me that they couldn’t see how anyone could move through a greater range without falling over. I’m not sure human evolution would have reached the levels it has if we existed with that kind of muscle capacity, we’d have been a pretty easy meal, that’s for sure.

Forget the active holiday, that’s inconsequential. There’s a very real public health issue here that needs to be addressed. In the not too distant future, there’s going to be a very swollen aged population in the country, most of which are going to have very real mobility problems unless they begin to build regular and well structured physical activity into their lives. I see the work that Kelvin Giles is doing as vitally important to the future health of the nation, the five in five program will increase the ability of children to participate in activity throughout their life and better prepare some for their sporting careers.

A gap will still exist though. The current adult population that had to endure reduction in physical activity in school, closing of public and school playing fields, the growth of convenience foods and the development of a sedentary TV/video game culture. It’s something that I find distressing. It will become a massive societal issue but it’s one that I believe strength and conditioning can have positive impact on. It will require some ingenuity to have an effect. It could be putting on sessions in community or church halls, building relationships with GPs, company occupational health staff or local authorities. Maybe there’s a role for the UKSCA there, to develop relationships with other organisations to educate and increase recognition of S&C.

This is something that could help a lot of people. The UK population first and foremost, the NHS would benefit through improved public health and a reduced usage and S&C would grow. There’s the potential to create more jobs in the field for the growing number of qualified coaches. Win win in my eyes.


Neil Welch


  1. Very interesting! The problem is also further compounded by poor nutritional advice.

    I definitely agree that something needs to be done.

    I think primary schools would be the ideal starting point to improve both activity and nutritional choices. If you included both the parents and children you would get two generations in one.

    – Joe

  2. I think motivated UK strength coaches like us should create our own pressure group for this very purpose. A lot of hard work is required though! Nice ideas Neil.


  3. Hi Joe

    Particularly when including any nutritional advice, primary school and parent involvement is a great shout, it’s important to get into good habits from an early age and to change bad habits in slightly older age.
    I think that continuing to develop physical self awareness throughout high school and beyond is also very important, if someone doesn’t know that they’re doing something wrong or what they’re aiming for, they are unable to correct it or to progress. It’s this idea of physical literacy that I think can have a massive effect on participation in sports or activities throughout later life.

  4. Hi Anthony
    Thanks for the comment, good to know S&C’s going strong in Mid-Cheshire (I’m from Northwich originally). I think that putting something together through the UKSCA could work well, if homeopathy can get NHS referrals, I don’t think S&C should have a problem!

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