How to get fit while doing good for the community

Members of GoodGym Norwich have cleaned the GoGo T-rexes around the city

Members of GoodGym Norwich have cleaned the GoGo T-rexes around the city - Credit: GoodGym Norwich

How often do you guiltily look at your trainers by the door and think that you should go out for a run or walk, but can’t quite summon up the motivation?  

If you need to find a purpose to get active, then GoodGym might be it.  

Founded in 2009, its members all around the country meet up regularly to exercise and help their communities and the local environment at the same time by doing tasks such as litter picking or gardening, or helping older or vulnerable people. 

GoodGym came to Norwich in 2017 and currently has 325 active members. 

As Norwich trainer Steven Hitcham explains, there are three strands to what GoodGym does. 

Recent GoodGym Norwich tasks have included clearing bracken on Mousehold Heath

Recent GoodGym Norwich tasks have included clearing bracken on Mousehold Heath - Credit: GoodGym Norwich


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“We do something called Coach Runs, so someone pairs up with an older person, who we call their coach as they are the ones giving them motivation to exercise, and they do a weekly visit to them and spend up to an hour with them, like a befriending service. 

“If an older person is feeling isolated and wants a chat with somebody we can send somebody to them, but if they’re not happy with face to face we can do it via phone, which is what we did during the height of the pandemic,” says Steven.  

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They also do Mission Runs, again to help older members of the community, who need assistance with one-off tasks. 

“For example, someone might be coming out of hospital and need some furniture moved so that some new equipment can be moved in. Or it might be that an older person can’t do their garden anymore, so we can send someone over to do that,” says Steven. 

Referrals come to GoodGym via Age UK Norwich and runners taking part are DBS checked. 

And then once a week there are Group Runs, where a group meets up to run, walk or cycle to do that week’s task for a local charity or community group. 

“I lead that session and we do all sorts of different tasks,” says Steven. 

“We’ve done quite a few recently with Mousehold Heath, where we’ve cleared a lot of bracken, because it overgrows, kills off certain flowers and some of the wildlife can’t survive if it’s overgrown. 

“We’ve also cleaned the GoGo T Rexes a couple of times for Break charity.

"Some areas of Norwich rely on volunteers to look after the area and we’ve done litter picks at Train Wood, which is the start of the Marriott’s Way, and at Eaton Park.” 

Members of GoodGym Norwich have also carried out gardening tasks at Oak Grove Community Church

Members of GoodGym Norwich have also carried out gardening tasks at Oak Grove Community Church - Credit: GoodGym Norwich

In the coming weeks there is more gardening work coming up – they'll be going to Marion Road Day Centre for people living with dementia to tidy up their overgrown garden so that people can enjoy sitting out there again. 

Tasks are usually on a Monday evening and start from The Forum in the city centre, although if a task is further out into the suburbs, the meeting point will be moved closer to it.  

If you’re interested in joining GoodGym, visit goodgym.org to find out how to sign up. 

An optional donation can be made to cover the costs of the organisation’s work 
 
 

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