The annual Fitness Industry Summit in the U.K., which is taking place this week, will have a new format next year. It will be combined with the FLAME awards and the current FitPro Business Conference and be held on June 9-10. The conference will replace the one currently held at Leisure Industry Week. The organizers said they wanted to streamline the events so fitness industry players would have one event to attend. The Fitness Industry Association (FIA) Conference 2009 will be held at the same time.

The FIA has been busy. It launched its new Go program aiming to get girls in their teens to be more active. The first event of the initiative, held at the David Lloyd health and fitness club in Warrington, involved 12 girls aged 15 and 16 taking part in a gym session and activities that included Spinning and boxercise. The program allows girls to join the gym at a discount and to work with trained gym staff. Forty-four girls total took part in the program, which also links secondary schools with FIA member fitness clubs.

Studies show that girls prefer non-competitive sports such as aerobics, cycling and swimming, so the six-week Go program focuses on these as well as teaching the girls how to live healthy lifestyles. Government research has singled out teenage girls as a priority, as they participate in fewer activities than other groups of children.

In October, the chief executive of the FIA, Andrée Deane, addressed the National Obesity Forum, saying that though the U.K. took home the most Olympic medals from Beijing than it has in 100 years, the country also leads in obesity is known as the “fat nation of Europe.” Some have called for obese children to be taken into care, which Deane said was unhelpful at best and draconian at worst.

She noted that such controversies point up the need for community-based exercise programs, and pointed out that the fitness industry has grown to included 27,000 registered professionals and that there is a fitness facility within 20 minutes of 90 percent of Britain’s population. She praised the government’s Fit for the Future program, which subsidizes gym memberships for 16- to 22-year-olds from the neediest areas.

Deane was also a speaker at the Change4Life launch by the Department of Health earlier this month. Change4Life, with the tagline “Eat well, move more and live longer,” brings together FIA members, food brands, retailers, local organizations and charities to address the nation’s obesity problem. It will feature a television ad campaign that starts in January. Deane said that the FIA will run a special promotion for Change4Life next summer.

On the Continent, the first European Fitness Summit was held in Barcelona last month, organized by Reed Exhibitions Deutschland, the company behind the successful FIBO fair in Essen, and the media company Health and Beauty. About 800 fitness and health centers from nine countries were represented. There were 18 suppliers and 56 buyers. The next summit will be held Oct. 7-9, 2009.