Bringing communities together through fitness
“I am a single mum with two children and together we regularly attend Harwich FitClub. I have been suffering with severe depression and high anxiety most of this year. FitClub has not only helped me to become physically fit and healthier than I have ever been, it has also helped me to get out and socialise again.
"I am undertaking many new challenges - both mental and physical - and I would never have been able to do this without the support of the team. It is a fun family friendly environment with people who listen and take into account the needs of the individual as well as the group. Thank you.” S.R.
The Free FitClub model began in Harwich, and has now launched in Manningtree due to its success in building community cohesion by bringing people together through fun fitness, and in doing so promoting healthy lifestyles and encouraging exercise and reducing social isolation.
“I am not a fan of the gym as I find people can look down their nose at you a bit, but I love to work out at Harwich FitClub. It is the perfect place for me, and everybody is so friendly and welcoming. They never look down at you and they are always there for advice and support when you need it, even if it is not FitClub day. I have lost 2 ½ stone in my time at Harwich FitClub. I highly recommend giving it a go, everyone has to start somewhere and this is the best place by far. 5 stars and thank you to everyone for their support” T.V.
The community fitness model is supported by Essex County Council as part of its ambition to make sport and physical activity accessible to all Essex residents. As well as providing regular community-based exercise programmes delivered by professional instructors the FitClub team investigate demand for new or additional fitness activities within communities and explore crowd funding opportunities. FitClub also provides members with support and information sessions around nutrition, healthy eating and exercise opportunities available in the wider community.
The Harwich Free FitClub is engaging with more than 600 residents via its facebook page, providing support between club members and also advertising additional opportunities for exercise such as power walks, park runs and also social activities such as a recent camping weekend. It regularly initiates body challenges as part of its free fitness programme and in June 2017 its six week body challenge saw 13 residents participating, between the ages of 29-55, losing a combined total of 5 stone 10lbs in weight.
“Exercising on one’s own is so hard, but being part of an enthusiastic group motivates me into continually trying to improve my fitness and confidence. The group consists of all sizes and ages so, as an older lady, I never feel out of place. Being a free and friendly club makes it even more of an advantage. Keep it going please” GK
In March 2017 more than 20 members of the Harwich FitClub took part in the Chelmsford 5km Inflatable run on behalf of The Invicta Foundation, raising over £2,000 for the charity achieved through participant sponsorship, raffles, collections and games at their body challenge events.
“Since starting FitClub I have not only become more healthier but I have become more confident in myself and has helped with my anxiety and depression. I have met such lovely and friendly people who have become my friends for life. Come along everyone, it is such a lovely atmosphere. Can’t wait to come each week.” CJT