Variations in area-level disadvantage of Australian registered fitness trainers usual training locations
journal contributionposted on 2016-07-11, 00:00 authored by J A Bennie, Lukar ThorntonLukar Thornton, J G Z van Uffelen, L K Banting, S J H Biddle
BACKGROUND: Leisure-time physical activity and strength training participation levels are low and socioeconomically distributed. Fitness trainers (e.g. gym/group instructors) may have a role in increasing these participation levels. However, it is not known whether the training location and characteristics of Australian fitness trainers vary between areas that differ in socioeconomic status. METHODS: In 2014, a sample of 1,189 Australian trainers completed an online survey with questions about personal and fitness industry-related characteristics (e.g. qualifications, setting, and experience) and postcode of their usual training location. The Australian Bureau of Statistics 'Index of Relative Socioeconomic Disadvantage' (IRSD) was matched to training location and used to assess where fitness professionals trained and whether their experience, qualification level and delivery methods differed by area-level disadvantage. Linear regression analysis was used to examine the relationship between IRSD score and selected characteristics adjusting for covariates (e.g. sex, age). RESULTS: Overall, 47 % of respondents worked in areas within the three least-disadvantaged deciles. In contrast, only 14.8 % worked in the three most-disadvantaged deciles. In adjusted regression models, fitness industry qualification was positively associated with a higher IRSD score (i.e. working in the least-disadvantaged areas) (Cert III: ref; Cert IV β:13.44 [95 % CI 3.86-23.02]; Diploma β:15.77 [95 % CI: 2.17-29.37]; Undergraduate β:23.14 [95 % CI: 9.41-36.86]). CONCLUSIONS: Fewer Australian fitness trainers work in areas with high levels of socioeconomic disadvantaged areas than in areas with low levels of disadvantage. A higher level of fitness industry qualifications was associated with working in areas with lower levels of disadvantage. Future research should explore the effectiveness of providing incentives that encourage more fitness trainers and those with higher qualifications to work in more socioeconomically disadvantaged areas.