Are Fitness Professionals really at the Heart of the Growth of the Sector?

Wednesday 15th June 11:45 - 12:30

Thought Leaders Conference

Fitness professionals inspire, motivate, build communities, and create engaging experiences - helping our customers fall in love with exercise – whilst delivering on the core values of the business creating a loyal following of members.

And as inactivity and an ageing population continues to create a population scale public health crisis, what skills and professional development will instructors need to support public health professionals?

It is clear that the role of the fitness professional has never been more important to the continued growth of the sector – with companies who value their employees seeing the biggest returns. How can companies position themselves as best in class  -  to recruit, develop and retain the best of the best and attract a new generation of fitness professional?

Chaired by Elaine Briggs.


Elaine Briggs

Chief Education & Partnerships Officer

Future Fit

Elaine Briggs, Chief Education & Partnerships Officer at Future Fit Group and Managing Director at Future Active Workforce CIC, has over 25 years’ experience in the education sector having begun her career in the fitness industry as a lifeguard, swimming teacher and aerobics instructor before realising that her passion and talent lies in educating and inspiring others. Elaine is recognised as a leading voice within the industry, steering and contributing to the future direction of the fitness sector. Having worked across several sectors, training providers, and awarding organisations, she is incredibly passionate about the value of training and education for our workforce.

Leading the way in calling for a more holistic and community-based approach for our sector, Elaine recognises that workforce development of today will need to ensure individuals can deliver a fully rounded service. Believing resolutely that collaboration and leadership is key for expanding our sectors facilities to provide holistic services for our communities, she drives forward her passion by working with industry leaders and employer partners to identify the essential skills and tools to achieve this. Through meaningful partnerships, Elaine looks to create sustainable training, programmes and solutions that will raise a professional and credible workforce who are highly skilled and equipped to undertake the vital role our sector plays in people's health.

Tara Dillon

Chief Executive


As CEO of the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity, Tara Dillon leads the institute's headline work in professionalising UK sport and leisure and transforming the workforce development opportunities of those who work in the sector. Tara was appointed as CEO in January 2015, before which she was interim chief operating officer whilst on secondment from IQL UK. Previously, Tara has held a variety of senior management roles within the leisure sector, combining 12 years working in local authorities and 9 years in the private sector, culminating in a customer-focused commercial role as executive director of IQL UK.

John Penny

Managing Director

Third Space

John Penny is the MD of Third Space where he has held this role for over four years overseeing operations, sales and product development strategy. John comes from a back ground of Sports Science, Coaching and Business Development and has held senior leadership role across premium high volume operations in London with multiple brands over the past fifteen years. Third Space is positioned as London's Luxury Health Club offering- inspiring members to be their personal best through outstanding experiences -and plans to expand its club portfolio further into London over the coming years.

Sue Wilkie

Head of Instructor Support


Sue has over 30 years’ experience in the fitness industry as a group ex Instructor, PT and International Fitness presenter, developing programming and education in the UK and America for brands including TRX, TriggerPoint, and Total Gym. Throughout the pandemic Sue represented the group exercise sector, working with the government to support instructors and ensure they were able to get back teaching face to face. As part of this work Sue authored the Group Ex Support Pack and Return to Play guidelines. Sue work for instructors continues – she is currently in talks with PRS for Music to seek simpler, more cost-effective music solutions for the sector.

Oliver Patrick

Clinical Director

Pillar Wellbeing

Oliver Patrick is a Physiologist and leading expert in lifestyle management. He speaks widely on the application of contemporary wellbeing strategies and consults to businesses and individuals globally. Oliver was Head of Physiology at Nuffield Hospitals where he co-founded and led the largest team of applied physiologists, wellbeing advisors and nutritionists in the UK. In 2009 Oliver co-founded Viavi on London’s Harley St, to deliver the most advanced health assessment and health evaluation service available globally. In his clinical role at Viavi, Oliver worked alongside each key discipline of medicine to drive accelerated health outcomes in his clients.

Alongside advanced health assessments Oliver co-founded the first Lifestyle medicine gym in Oxford, tailoring exercise and lifestyle advice to the non-exercise market. Latterly Oliver runs a corporate wellbeing consultancy service, is Clinical Director for Pillar Wellbeing, and has founded Future Practice, an industry specific education platform to drive practical coaching skills in the broader undervalued areas of lifestyle (beyond movement and nutrition) particularly stress, sleep, environmental toxicity and mindset.