The Elixir of Knowledge: a Review of #ISM18

The International Standards Meeting (ISM) is recognised as one of the leading events for the fitness sector and is organised by EuropeActive. This year’s meeting took place in the city centre of Warsaw, Poland welcoming 90+ delegates and focussed on quality assurance. 

With ‘Future proofing the fitness sector’ as the main theme, delegates were able to share their thoughts on plans for quality assurance and learn from the Polish fitness sector. Inspiration for this year’s event came from a quote by Marie Curie, the famous French-Polish chemist and physicist, born in November 1867 in Warsaw. 

Opening speech

The conference commenced with a warm welcome from Bartosz Groffik, President of the Polish Personal Trainers Association and REPS-POL, and Anna Szumilewicz, Vice Dean for Education at the Gdansk University of Physical Education and Sports. Julian Berriman, Director of EuropeActive’s Professional Standards Committee, welcomed 97 delegates out of 20 EU-countries and 7 other nations, varying from Brazil to India and the United States. He reconfirmed EuropeActive’s mission to help create a prosperous, credible and respected sector in which qualified and competent fitness professionals can grow and flourish.

Preparing for success 

After the opening speech, it was time to “get cooking”. A get-to-know-each-other session especially designed for this event asked delegates to come up with the essential “ingredients” for the perfect training course, or any training course within the fitness sector. After a networking lunch it was time to get ready for group discussions on three key themes:

  • Deciding on a common assessment strategy of EuropeActive accredited providers 
  • Creating an Internal and External Verification Strategy; how to assure quality?
  • The European standards: what are our future directions and implications? 

EREPS and National Registers

Next was a panel session led by Dr Laszlo Zopcsak, President of Hungarian Health and Fitness Association. The European Register for Exercise Professionals (EREPS) is growing. This leads to an increasing demand at a national level within Europe and beyond to align National Registers of exercise professionals with EREPS. When asked about the event, Dr Zopcsak said: “We have a chance to create a common protocol throughout Europe – and change and shape the industry. This is definitely a go-to event for training providers.”

The session ended with the signing of a Memorandum of Trust and Understanding with Greek-REPS. 

Special networking dinner

Day 1 ended with a summary of key points from the day by Julian Berriman. He then asked all attendees to walk to the nearby Grand Kredens Restaurant, a special dinner location with a Polish-French old-fashioned tavern/café atmosphere, for a three course meal with local delights.

Best Practices from Poland

The second day focussed on the host-country, Poland. A clear picture of the Polish fitness sector was provided by Agnieska Szymczak, Leader-Expert at the Educational Research Institute IBE, Dr Anna Szumilewicz, Bartosz Groffik and Cliff Collins, EuropeActive’s Director of Programmes on the Blueprint for skills and employment cooperation. Ms Szymczak highlighted several points from the Polish SQFS descriptors, working from the assumption that every SQF must be “for the sector, by the sector”. Her presentation was followed by Dr Szumilewicz, informing delegates to understand the role of the Personal Trainer properly. Mr Groffik talked about the implementing of REPS-POL and how Polish Personal Trainers can show their value through their system. Cliff Collins ended the session by showing the bigger picture and that fitness is a leading sector in terms of qualification development at the European level. 

Thought-provoking end to day 2

Instead of returning home with just their own notes, Julian Berriman asks delegates to actively think with the team to ‘bring it all together’ and define key points and action plans. He pledged that these themes would be picked up and developed at the Training Provider Forum to be held during the FIBO International Trade Show in April 2019. When asked, attendee Mr Rainer Beck stated: “very cool event, interesting content. It’s important to keep up with the development of Standards and regulations. And great networking possibilities!”

2019: 10th Anniversary edition

Mr. Berriman thanked all delegates for travelling to Poland for this important meeting and welcomed them to join the next ISM, the 10th anniversary, taking place on 21 and 22 November 2019 in Copenhagen, Denmark.