Participation in Sport and Active Recreation

On the road to well-being - North Norfolk's mobile gym

North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) commissioned a piece of research in 2004 to better understand the reasons why people in more rural isolated communities did not participate in physical activity.  The results demonstrated that access to mainstream leisure facilities was a significant barrier.  This prompted the Council to establish an intervention that took exercise to people’s doorstep.

The mobile gym visits five local areas per week for a six month period. The facility makes workplace visits and NNDC have also started programming visits to specific locations such as Doctor Surgeries, Colleges and Hospitals.  A team of trained staff, who are also drivers, work a to deliver personalised fitness programmes. In addition to the mobile facility, the team also hold sessions in village halls and centres to help sustain the interest whilst the unit is in the community.

The results have been significant.  The project has inspired hundreds of people to exercise who hadn’t done so for many years. The majority of participants reported a real difference in their well-being both physically and mentally. The project has witnessed a positive adherence to exercise with over 50% continuing either in their village or in a more formal setting.

Elvie Reeder, who is 72 years of age and attends the mobile gym every week at Stalham, said 

"Since I began using the gym more than a year ago, I feel much fitter. Until then I have never set foot in a gym. I’ve been given a programme of exercises lasting about 45 minutes and when I’ve finished I feel so healthy that I am glowing.  Even my circulation seems to have got better and I haven’t suffered from chilblains this year.  The beauty of the mobile gym is that it is only five minutes walk from my home and I can work out with a friend, which makes it more enjoyable.”

Over 1,700 different people from over 30 villages have accessed the mobile facility since 2005 and regular participation continues to grow reaching 600 visits per month. The project has enabled the Council to contribute to LAA indicators NI8 (adult participation in sport and active recreation) and NI57 (children and young people's participation in high-quality PE and sport).

The Council successfully secured over £270,000 from Sport England’s Active England grant fund;  £133,000 of this was capital to build a bespoke mobile gym, plus three years revenue funding to enable the Council to staff and maintain the project for this period.  Further funding has been accessed from the Local Strategic Partnership, Norfolk LAA and Age Concern, which is investing over £100,000 up until 2012.

For more information on this project contact Karl.Read@north-norfolk.gov.uk

Video produced by Showreel Event Films