Week 264 (3 - 9 November 2018)

Sticking to a gym regime can be an arduous task for many, with 90% of all new gym members in the UK alone quitting after just three months. If only there was an active alternative that keeps people motivated, whilst harnessing human potential. Step in GoodGym. 

The not-for-profit organisation was formed in September 2009 as a way to get people off the treadmill and into spending their time and energy doing good for their local community. To put it simply, GoodGym helps its members get fit, with a more tangible and fulfilling reward. 

Already, the initiative is active in 47 areas across the United Kingdom, providing its runners with a choice of three different programmes to participate in.

There are “group runs”, which give you the opportunity to run to an area, work with others on doing something good for the local area, such as clearing a community space or distributing flyers, and then run back. There is also the option of taking part in a “mission run”, which involves members running solo to meet up with others at an elderly person’s home to complete a task, such as changing lightbulbs or moving furniture, and then complete the “mission” by running the return route. The final programme is called “coach run”. Here, GoodGym participants are individually paired with isolated older members of the community, who are known as coaches. Working with the NHS and local community centres, GoodGym then encourages runners to take a newspaper or a modest gift and hang out with their coach, who in return offers motivational advice for the run back.

GoodGym Founder Ivo Gormley explained why the initiative is so addictive:  "Good Gym makes people feel good about who they are, it makes it easy to do good, and helps older people who wouldn't otherwise see anyone."

Gormley discovered that the charitable element of GoodGym provides excellent motivation for struggling runners. The impetus comes from the fact that your run has a purpose and that completing it can make a radical difference.

This idea was echoed by a regular GoodGym Runner:

“Before GoodGym I always lost motivation to stick at running or the gym but now I run two or three times a week. It’s so fulfilling knowing that whilst I’m exercising, I’m also making a difference in the lives of others! I would encourage anyone to give it a go.”

The innovative initiative reaches areas and people that would otherwise be without help, once again highlighting the power and potential that sport holds.

It has gained the attention of national papers, such as The Independent, too:

“Why burn energy in the gym when you could harness that effort to spruce up public spaces, or visit lonely pensioners?”

So far, GoodGym has achieved 114,667 good deeds and this number is increasing every week. A total of 77 new areas are in the proposal stage, with four of those starting imminently. If its success so far is anything to go by then it is an initiative that will only continue to grow.  

This week’s JTA Communicator of the Week goes to GoodGym, for its ability to not only get people active, but also for using sport as a vehicle to promote social cohesion and community wellbeing.  

Photo: GoodGym