The Active Leisure Sector

In 2013 the Eurofound Study was published which confirmed EuropeActive (formerly EHFA) and EC-OE as the representative employer organisations for fitness and the outdoor sectors. More details of the Eurofound Study can be found here

In 2012 EuropeActive and the European Confederation of Outdoor Employers signed a cooperation to launch the Active Leisure Alliance. A copy of the Memorandum can be found here

As part of the European Skills Competencies Qualifications and Occupations (ESCO - referencing work the fitness and outdoor sectors are combined into the active leisure sector. The ESCO referencing work was completed in 2015 and these are the agreed definitions of the sectors:

Active leisure

is a combination of fitness and outdoor-based activities that are generally unstructured and non-competitive. They promote active, healthy lifestyles through activities, events and exercise. They are commonly provided under the direction of qualified animators or instructors so that the activities are tailored to match the abilities of the participants and meet their needs in an enjoyable and safe way.

The fitness sector

uses qualified instructors and trainers to deliver diverse, structured exercise programmes that help people of all ages and abilities to improve their health, muscle and cardiovascular endurance, coordination, balance, agility and flexibility. Fitness programmes also build a feeling of individual wellbeing that establishes and helps to maintain a healthy balance of mind, body and spirit.

To read about the importance of social dialogue for fitness employers please - click here

The outdoor sector

uses outdoor related activities (canoe, rafting, horse riding, etc.) as the basis of delivery of a recreational or personal development service. Outdoor providers do not generally offer competitions. The outdoor sector uses qualified animators or instructors to deliver these outdoor activities in a context of fun, recreation, tourism, outdoor learning or engagement with the natural environment.

To download the Defining the Outdoors paper - click here

ESCO is the multilingual classification of European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations and is part of the Europe 2020 strategy. The ESCO classification identifies and categorises skills, competences, qualifications and occupations relevant for the EU labour market and education and training. It systematically shows the relationships between the different concepts. The active leisure sector has developed its own organogram within the broader sport and active leisure sector:

Active Leisure Organogram

For further information on fitness standards, the Eurpoean Register of Exercise Professionals, and accreditation of training providers please go to