A charity whose members combine getting fit with helping in the community has celebrated its first birthday.
Instead of working out in conventional gyms, members of GoodGym Windsor and Maidenhead run to venues to help with practical tasks like painting fences, planting trees, sorting donations and marshalling.
In its first year the group, which was set up thanks to funding from the Royal Borough, has encouraged more than 150 local people to stay active. Those people have carried out more than 735 good deeds, helping more than 30 charities and community projects in the area in the process.
Councillor Stuart Carroll, cabinet member for health and mental health, said: “GoodGym is a great way to improve your physical and mental health while making a difference in your community.
“I’d like to thank its members for showing such enthusiasm and commitment, particularly during lockdown, in undertaking the wide range of tasks that they have while encouraging people to get fit. Our borough is a better place because of their hard work.”
GoodGym launched in Windsor and Maidenhead at the end of February last year and had just a few weeks of activity before lockdown was announced.
Area activator Amy Lovell initially feared that the group would fizzle out. But as COVID-19 increased feelings of isolation and loneliness for many and put pressure on community resources, GoodGym's community spirit and bank of willing volunteers has been needed more than ever.
Amy said: “The charity does wonders not only for physical health, but mental health too, giving members a sense of purpose and social connection with the area where they live.
“In the warmer months, the majority of tasks involved being outside - painting fences, clearing weeds, and even harvesting acorns with beneficiaries including schools, Maidenhead Waterways, The Braywick Nature Centre and Maidenhead Community Allotment.
“The feel-good factor for those involved was not only knowing they had helped, but also being able to enjoy the fresh air and some of the beautiful green spaces in our borough.”
During lockdown, tasks have been restricted to supporting those organisations who provide essentials for vulnerable people, such as The Baby Bank, which provides essentials to families in need. More recently GoodGym has been busy marshalling at the COVID-19 vaccination clinics at the Desborough Suite in Maidenhead and at Royal Windsor Racecourse.
GoodGym has also inspired members to stay active by setting fun challenges such as a 48-hour virtual relay, pancake day relay and run bingo game. In support of the Maidenhead #Magpies150Challenge to celebrate Maidenhead United’s 150th anniversary GoodGym’s members will be running in fancy dress to donate items to foodbanks and gift appeals, and they’ll also be out litter picking.
Among its achievements in its first year was being awarded the 'Berkshire Physical Activity Lockdown Hero' award in the ninth Get Berkshire Active Awards. The charity also received a 'COVID-19 Heroes Service Recognition Award' from the Rotary Club of Maidenhead.
Amy said she was ‘thrilled’ with the awards adding: “They celebrate the fantastic commitment members have made to helping others locally and recognise the amazing community spirit GoodGym members have shown in welcoming new participants and motivating one another to stay active.
“The group are very friendly and don't take themselves too seriously, so we celebrated our birthday with an online quiz that involved quite a lot of fancy dress, puns, song-writing and even dancing the running man.
“I also celebrated by running with a bunch of balloons around the Maidenhead Parkrun route.”
You can also find out more on Facebook @goodgymwindsorandmaidenhead. If you run a charity or community initiative and you would like GoodGym's help, please contact Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org