Catherine Hanson-Farid: UAE fitness trailblazer appointed as chair of global exercise body

One of the UAE’s most prominent fitness industry professionals, Catherine Hanson-Farid, has been appointed as the chair of the International Confederation of Registers of Exercise Professionals (ICREPs), the first female to hold the position in more than 10 years, having been voted into the position by representatives from other national fitness registers. 

The membership-based organisation, which acts as the international partnership for registration bodies, is responsible for facilitating international portability and recognition of exercise professionals worldwide and sharing of best practice between ICREPs members. The ICREPs Global Standards set a benchmark of instructor competency, which is implemented through each of the members. ICREPs also supports the creation of new national registers and ensures all members implement a Code of Ethical Practice.

In her new role, Hanson-Farid will be responsible for ensuring members, who span four continents and ten countries and include 250,000 exercise professionals, meet international standards and receive the benefits of professional membership while also acting as a figurehead for the fitness industry at a regional and international level.

“The fitness industry, both in the UAE and globally, is on a significant upward trajectory. Several factors are contributing to this growth, including a population that is increasingly becoming more health-conscious. As a result, we are seeing increased demand for qualified exercise professionals who can deliver optimum results for their clients.

“As part of our role, we ensure all ICREPs members map their registration process to global standards and raise the bar across the industry. The opportunity to work with our members to achieve this goal is something I am incredibly passionate about, and I look forward to contributing to driving up standards across all fitness-related disciplines.”

With 37 years of experience in health, fitness and wellness, Hanson-Farid has been a central figure in the UAE industry since 1995. As a UK-certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor, she introduced Les Mills group fitness programs to the region in 1999. She went on to establish the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) UAE in 2013 with CEO Naser Al Tameemi, where she remains Director of Operations.

As part of REPs, she is responsible for all aspects of the operation, including day-to-day management, business development, membership, compliance, and marketing, while collaborating with leaders, operators and educators to create networking and educational events, adding value to REPs membership. The team is also closely aligned with Dubai and Abu Dhabi Sports Councils, where they work together on several initiatives. 

Further underscoring her health and fitness credentials, Hanson-Farid was recently appointed as Vice-Chair of the World Active Forum (WAF), a network of national fitness associations and organisations from around the world, with a vision to boost the industry’s visibility – politically, socially and economically – as an essential service when it comes to public health and wellbeing.

“The pandemic had an incredibly negative impact on the fitness industry globally. However, we have bounced back in better shape than before, and our growth rate, particularly in the UAE, continues to gain pace. Now more than ever, it is crucial to maintain the industry’s high standards and ensure we are all working toward the common goal of making people fitter and healthier,” concluded Hanson-Farid.

A past bodybuilding competitor, winner, judge and health and fitness writer Hanson-Farid is proactive in using the platform she has been given to help nurture and support the next generation of fitness professionals. 

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