Everything you need to know: The new gym craze that's sweeping Harrogate

All smiles: Some of Harrogate's Good Gym founders.
All smiles: Some of Harrogate's Good Gym founders.

It's a new gym craze with a conscience - Good Gym is coming to Harrogate, and it's all about getting active whilst doing good deeds in the community.

But unlike most crazes, this doesn't have the characteristics of something that will be short-lived - more than 120 people have signed up to take part already, and that's ahead of the official launch in Spring 2019.

There's been a real groundswell of support from residents who want to combine regular exercise with making a difference - whether that's going for a run to visit an elderly person who may be feeling isolated, doing a spot of gardening or DIY, or going for a walk to help clean up the environment.

Director of Health and Adult Services at North Yorkshire County Council, Richard Webb, is one of the Harrogate Good Gym's founding members.

He said: "Harrogate's a great place to live for many people, but it can also be difficult if you are feeling isolated or lonely. This is a way of getting active and making a difference at the same time.

"For people who want to do more regular exercise but haven't found a way of getting started yet, this gives them another incentive, as it creates opportunities to give back to your local community.

"And this is about involving people of all ages and abilities, from athletes to those who are new to running, walking or cycling, and people with mental health issues and disabilities. Everyone is welcome and can take part as much or as little as they like."

The group's other founding members include the Chief Executive of Harrogate and Ripon Centres for Voluntary Service, Karen Weaver, Robin Lavin from North Yorkshire Sport, teacher Jenny Godfrey, and film, video and events producer Ben Dave, who recently raised £26,000 for mental health charity CALM, by running a 495-mile lap around the whole of Yorkshire.

Also among the founders is Rachel Auty, who is the editor of The Harrogate Review, the founder of the Women On Tap beer and arts festival, and heads up media and communications at Harrogate Theatre.

With their wide cross-section of experience in the voluntary and community sector, the founders are passionate about connecting Harrogate's Good Gym with existing charities and groups - supporting each other with good deeds and random acts of kindness.

Karen Weaver said: "There are two main reasons why I wanted to be supportive of this - one was encouraging people to get involved in volunteering, and the second is that anything encouraging people to be more active can only be a good thing. And this is a way of connecting people with their community - doing a bit of exercise and helping people in the process."

Good Gym is a movement that's growing across the country. York already has a thriving Good Gym, and now the team behind the Harrogate group are working hard to raise the £35,000 that will be required over the next three years to make the project a success.

The long-term ambition is to roll out Good Gyms across the whole district, expanding from Harrogate out into Ripon, Knaresborough, Boroughbridge and Nidderdale.

An open meeting for anyone who is interested in the project will be held early next year, to step up momentum ahead of a launch in the Spring.

The group is also keen to hear from people with expertise in crowd-funding, and businesses who might be willing to provide sponsorship or support.

Email Robin@northyorkshiresport.co.uk to find out more about Good Gym coming to Harrogate.