Virtual physical activity support launches in Glemsford to reconnect local residents
An online physical activity session launched this week for residents living in Glemsford and surrounding areas, supporting them to improve their health and reconnect with neighbours.
The online Pilates classes were put in place following the announcement of the new lockdown which resulted in Active Suffolk’s Fit Villages project being unable to go ahead with the usual face to face sessions.
Fit Villages is a well-established project that supports those living in rural villages across Suffolk to connect and be active, by helping to fund and source suitable local activity. Typically, sessions would be delivered in a village hall, however following the announcement of a third lockdown in January, the fast thinking, innovative team decided to take their next project to the online world.
Chris Lawson, Project Officer at Active Suffolk who is leading on the Glemsford Fit Villages project said:
Once the lockdown was announced, we did not want to cancel our plans to support the village. We also did not want to wait to assess the situation as we knew there was no better time to support residents to access physical activity and stay connected with their local community.
In our latest evaluation of the Fit Villages project, 77% of participants felt closer to their local community after just 8 weeks. Although the project would be delivered online, it was felt that the connection with other local people could still be achieved, enabling us to fulfil the projects usual objectives”
The team’s decision to take the Glemsford project to the online world came about following the success of Active Suffolk’s This Girl Can Virtual Event which took place in January. The five day event saw 302 women from across the county participating in physical activity via zoom from the comfort of their own homes.
Laura Beale, Marketing Executive at Active Suffolk said:
“Following the success of the This Girl Can Virtual Event, we knew that the model would work for the Glemsford Fit Villages project. Although the events key objective was to support women to be more active, the support went much further than that. Many women stayed online following the exercise class to share advice and chat about their experiences with physical activity. Despite it being online, there was a strong sense of community and that’s exactly what our Fit Villages project is about.”
As soon as the decision had been made to deliver the project online, a survey was carried out to help the team discover what type of activity local residents would be interested in.
The Pilates session which launched for Glemsford on Monday 15th February was delivered by local instructor Lisa Parkhurst. Lisa has been a fitness instructor for over 25 years, delivering a range of exercise classes including specialist online sessions for older adults and those affected by long term health conditions such as COPD.
Lisa’s online delivery was well received by the participants of the first virtual Fit Villages session in Glemsford. One resident said:
“Lisa kindly helped to get me set up online over the weekend to help me access the Fit Villages session. It was really enjoyable and well worth attending”
Whilst another said:
“It was great to get moving again – A very enjoyable class”
Through the support of the Fit Villages project, residents in Glemsford and surrounding areas are connecting and accessing the Pilates sessions at a subsidised rate for an eight-week period, whilst Active Suffolk continue working with Lisa to provide the support needed for a sustainable long-term project.
Already, plans are underway to launch additional virtual Fit Villages projects in other rural areas of the county, but the team would like to hear from residents of other villages in Suffolk who may be interested in working with them to offer the opportunity to their community.
For more information about the Fit Villages Project visit www.activesuffolk.org/fitvillages
If you live in Glemsford or the surrounding area, spaces are still available on the Virtual Fit Villages project. Please contact Lisa Parkhurst on 07788547754 or firstname.lastname@example.org