No doubt you've been told more than a few times that exercise is good for you. But what if an exercise session was good not just for you but for others, too? Well, thanks to the not-for-profit initiative known as GoodGym, it can be.
GoodGym was originally set up in London and now has groups all over the country, all united by the purpose of combining exercise with community work. What constitutes this community work in Sheffield can vary – it might be helping an an elderly resident with a task they can't manage alone, contributing to the revival of the Abbeydale Picture House into a cultural centre, or assisting the Real Junk Food Project in their mission to alleviate food waste.
You don't need to be massively fit to join in; all you need is a can-do attitude, an eagerness to meet people from all walks of life and a willingness to dedicate some time for the benefit of others. GoodGym taps into the human potential of local communities in a very unique way, and it's striking a chord in Sheffield. Each Monday evening 20-25 runners gather at the Showroom cinema to set out on that week's task, running to an organisation to do about 45 minutes' worth of work as a team, plus a quick fitness session or challenge, before returning to the start point – totalling around 4 or 5km.
The tasks vary week by week, which not only keeps it interesting for the runners but also helps raise awareness of some of the social problems that exist in the city. In Sheffield trainer Tom Mutton's words: "The ethos of GoodGym can be summed up in the phrase ‘getting fit and doing good’; that’s what we are all about! It’s a really simple concept. We combine fitness with supporting others. Last year in Sheffield alone we did 996 good deeds and ran over 12,000km as a group!"
The organisation also does Coach Runs, pairing a runner with an elderly or socially isolated person in the city. With these, the runner makes a weekly visit to their "coach", who is usually waiting their arrival with a hot cuppa and a biscuit. Then there are the Missions, where a small group of runners, normally between 2 and 5, run to somebody’s house in the city to carry out a household or garden task that the person is no longer able to do for themselves, like changing a lightbulb or clearing a garden.
It's free to join GoodGym, though donations are welcome to the group's charity which supports older people.
Good Gym Sheffield meets for its group run on Mondays at the Showroom Cinema, 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX at 6:30pm for a 6:45pm start.