Camden exercise group changes light bulbs and paints walls to keep fit
08:00 29 December 2013
They run to community centres to clear land, move rubble, or sand walls; they run to visit isolated older people and they run to complete one-off “missions” like changing light bulbs for those who can’t reach them.
GoodGym Camden is a motley group of energetic do-gooders united under one aim – to fuse fitness and community work.
It was launched in April and now boasts about 30 regular runners, from professional athletes to those who have never taken to a track before.
“As well as doing a bit of good, people get fit,” said Shaun Dixon, 31, full time co-ordinator of GoodGym Camden.
The group meets every Wednesday to run for about 90 minutes. They sandwich 40 minutes of “really hard core” work on the evening’s chosen project into the round-trip jog.
Community organisations across the borough have received their help and the latest beneficiary was The Winch youth project, in Winchester Road, Swiss Cottage, with the group turning up last Wednesday to help paint its walls.
Mr Dixon said they will return in January to put the finishing touches to their work.
“It was a good evening, everyone enjoyed themselves,” he said, adding: “It’s an exciting way to discover the borough.
“All these groups that are doing great work, you wouldn’t ordinarily see unless you came into contact with them on the runs.
“If you get on the Tube you don’t see how close things are together. Running, you get to see where places connect with each other.”
Mr Dixon thinks Camden is the perfect borough for the GoodGym project, with a plethora of voluntary and community groups to help out, while Camden Council was generous enough to provide a grant.
“It is a place where we felt we could make a difference,” he said.
Ivo Gormley, son of renowned British sculptor Antony Gormley, set up the first GoodGym project in east London and has been developing the idea since 2008.
The organisation’s website states: “We want to rival the success of gyms, getting people all over the world off treadmills and into their communities.”
Their aim for 2014, said Mr Dixon, “is to increase the number of older people we’re visiting”.
“When it’s cold in the winter, it’s a particularly difficult time for them,” he said.
“We want the relationship to build but we don’t want it to be too difficult for anyone.”
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