Getting active on National Fitness Day in Bradford

This year National Fitness Day falls on Wednesday 27 September and the organisers are encouraging the nation to celebrate the fun of fitness and physical activity across the UK. To mark the Day, this week Get Out Get Active (GOGA) is highlighting some of the fantastic fitness sessions taking place all year-round in different locations.

GOGA Bradford family session

In 2011, énergie Group, the largest and fastest growing fitness franchise company in the UK, founded National Fitness Day. The company then gifted National Fitness Day to ukactive in 2014. The aim is to establish National Fitness Day as the most active day of the year.

We know the benefits of regular exercise includes a healthier heart, increased wellbeing, and a better quality of life. However, many of us find it a struggle. Research shows that if you exercise in company, you are more likely to stick at it. The social atmosphere creates a positive environment that is important in helping us to have fun. This is at the heart of GOGA’s work- fun and inclusion.

Funded by Spirit of 2012, GOGA is an exciting programme that supports disabled and non‑disabled people to take part in fun and inclusive activities together. It aims to make activity more appealing for everyone. Working in 18 different areas across the UK, partners are delivering over 30,000 sessions over three years. One of those locations is Bradford and their team has set up various sessions, including female fitness and family fitness sessions. Here, we talk to Karla Burton, Inclusive Sports Officer at Bradford Disability Sport and Leisure, about the benefits of regular fitness opportunities that are accessible at a local level.

Female fitness sessions

The activity started 18 years ago, when an enthusiastic woman, who runs the sports centre, saw the need for women’s only evenings. We spoke to women in the local community and realised women’s only sessions would help to remove many barriers to participation, particularly for those from a BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) background.

The activity is an opportunity for women of all ages, 16 upwards, and abilities to take part in a variety of activities at their own pace and their own time. Activities include Zumba, circuits, football, netball, gym and badminton. Over three hours any participant can dip in and out of any activity they want.

I started to work at the session, as there was no coach or lead to welcome the women and make the session inclusive for everyone.

The session runs every Monday at Manningham Sports Centre on Carlisle Road. Leaders are from the local community and promote to local groups who may attend non-physical activity related sessions. We also use Facebook and flyers to advertise them.

Women and girls over 16 come to work out in a safe environment and make new friends. Most of the women that attend our sessions do not have another opportunity like this and without would be inactive in the community. We have all ages and abilities and it’s great to see everyone come together and take part.

The women are a mix of quite physically active and some very new to keeping fit, but the mix works really well as they all motivate each other. Whilst we have a mixture of disabled and non-disabled women, we are always looking to attract more disabled women to the session – all our activities are suitable.

Since promoting the session and introducing the inclusive element, we have seen the numbers rise from 15 to around 45-50 women a week. Some of the women attend to meet up with friends and some like the warm and welcoming centre where they can be active. The women who attend do at least (and I say at least!) 30 minutes of activity during the night. Our leaders and volunteers ensure that the session is always accessible and always fun and enjoyable.

We have received some great feedback from the session and leaders as well as coaches are very welcoming and supportive. It has been great to see the impact activity has on women and girls, especially on their mental health. The feeling you get after you have exercised no matter how little or how much gives you a great feeling inside. A regular weekly activity that you enjoy and make new friends at can make such a difference to someone’s life.

We will most definitely be promoting National Fitness Day in the session. This activity runs all year round (except bank holidays)- come rain or shine!

Family Fitness Night

Friday Night Family Fitness started last September 2016 when two women from the community, who are very passionate about exercise for health, wanted to provide an opportunity for families to take part in activity. ECHO set up the great idea and they worked voluntarily to run and plan these sessions every week. The session was a great hit with some of the sessions fully booked in the first term.

The activity allows families to go off individually and take part in different activities in the same venue at the same time. Kickboxing for girls, Ju-Jitsu for men and boys and yoga/Pilates for women.

Within the community, there isn’t a lot of opportunity for adults to take part in activity (particularly those with children). The two women who set up the evening had the same barrier.

It runs every Friday 7pm-8:30pm at UAK Academy (Greenhead School) in Keighley. We have found promoting the session through those from the community has been most effective. A familiar face always helps to encourage people to come along. Facebook advertising also plays a big factor in promotion.

There is a mix of people taking part. The children are quite physically active but the parents do not usually get the opportunity so we have newcomers too. They range from eight to around 65 years old and a mixture of disabled and non-disabled people.

The activity goes from strength to strength. Its success comes down to the whole family having a something to take part in together, in an area where there has been few opportunities to do so. The impact has been great on parents/adults being active with like-minded people. Feedback shows it has helped family bonding and benefitted their health.

These activities run all year round, the great opportunity about this programme is the moral support every family member can provide each other. It does wonders in tackling inactivity.

Our best advice for National Fitness Day is to find an activity you can take part with the whole family. You would be surprised how much fun you have!

Find out how you can get involved with the GOGA programme.