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Active Nottingham swimming pools awarded PoolMark Accreditation

Jonathan (pictured left) and Ian (pictured right) are standing in front of the swimming pool at Clifton Leisure Centre, holding the PoolMark Plaque ad Certificate.

Swimmers attending any of the six Active Nottingham swimming pools, part of Nottingham City Council, can be assured they meet the highest quality standards after achieving the PoolMark Accreditation from the Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group (PWTAG).

The Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group (PWTAG) is the leading authority on swimming pool operation, water treatment and technical information relating to health and safety.

PoolMark is the UK National Standard for quality, healthy pools. The PoolMark certification assures operators and the public that the pool meets essential healthy pool operational standards.

Pools that follow and achieve the Code’s standards through assessment are awarded a plaque and certificate to show their achievement.

Jonathan Cook (Swimming Pools Technical Officer) and Ian Dunphy (Assistant Manager/Project Lead) from Clifton Leisure Centre (pictured above) said: “We’re proud to have undertaken this journey for Active Nottingham’s swimming pools. It’s a first for Nottingham City, as only 42 swimming pools (out of the 800+ pools in the UK) have been accredited, and we have six of those – it’s a huge achievement for us.”

To find your nearest Active Nottingham swimming pool visit, www.activenottingham.com/centres/

Digital improvements for Active Nottingham customers for 2023

Members of Active Nottingham leisure centres are set to benefit from improvements to their accounts, making bookings and payments easier.

The introduction of a new Leisure Management System (LMS) in late spring 2023 at Active Nottingham, part of Nottingham City Council, will offer members more control over their fitness.

The new software, provided by Legend, aims to deliver more flexibility, streamline bookings and payments and make it easier for citizens to access leisure centre services. The system will also enable Active Nottingham to gain better insights into its customer base through improved tracking and reporting systems.

John Wileman, Head of Sport and Leisure for Active Nottingham, said: “The introduction of a new Leisure Management System is an exciting time for Active Nottingham as the improved features will allow residents more flexibility when it comes to managing their account, booking online and via the mobile app.

“Combined with the gym improvement project at Clifton Leisure Centre and Harvey Hadden Sports Village, 2023 is set to be an exciting year for us.”

Implementation of the new system will be rolled out in late Spring 2023 and further updates will be provided via the Active Nottingham website in the coming weeks.

Active Nottingham gyms undergo a major transformation

The gyms at Harvey Hadden Sports Village and Clifton Leisure Centre are currently being transformed as part of a wider £1.5m investment for new equipment and set to reopen to the public on Tuesday 28 March 2023.

The average lifespan for a cardio machine is five years and the costs to repair will outstrip the value of the machine, resulting in a higher repair bill. This £1.5m cash injection will make sure each centre has new kit for gym-goers to use.

The money has been set aside to support the income generated from customers, allowing the investment to be made without the need for borrowing or impacting on wider day-to-day council services.

Active Nottingham, which is part of Nottingham City Council, is investing the money over five years across all of its six leisure centres – Harvey Hadden, Clifton, Ken Martin, Southglade, Victoria and Djanogly.

The revamp at Clifton and Harvey Hadden features premium equipment from Life Fitness, Hammer Strength and ICG ® – suitable for all training interests and fitness levels. The new kit will also feature immersive digital experiences with new cardio consoles, a functional zone with a stretching area and environmentally friendly Green Zones with self-powered equipment so more can be done to help the environment.

Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, Cllr Pavlos Kotsonis, said: “it was great to visit the gym at Clifton Leisure Centre this week during the installation process, to see the new and improved facilities, meet the team and see their excitement for the gym to reopen. I’m confident these improvements will become a real asset to the community.

“We are refurbishing all Active Nottingham gyms across the city, to make sure wherever people live, they have the opportunity and access to high-quality fitness equipment.”

Left to right: Cllr Pavlos Kotsonis, Ben Hattersley (Life Fitness), Andrew Miller (General Manager) and Kirsty Worthington (General Manager)

On Monday 27 March, both Clifton Leisure Centre and Harvey Hadden Sports Village will reopen their doors to the gym for a VIP Open Day, where Master Trainers from Life Fitness will be on hand to help customers utilise the new equipment. Members will also be invited to bring along a friend for free for the day.

To tie in with the reopening, residents will be able to take advantage of a special joining offer of three-month Fitness+ membership for £70 (a saving of £40) when visiting either Clifton or Harvey Hadden Sports Village.

For more information on the refurbishment project, visit Active Nottingham’s website here.

Left to right: Andrew Miller (General Manager) and Cllr Kotsonis.

Active Nottingham set to invest £1.5m in gym equipment

Gyms at Harvey Hadden Sports Village and Clifton Leisure Centre are in line to receive a share of £1.5m for new equipment over the next few months.

Active Nottingham, which is part of Nottingham City Council, is set to invest the money over five years across all of its six leisure centres – Harvey Hadden, Clifton, Ken Martin, Southglade, Victoria and Djanogly.

Harvey Hadden and Clifton will be the first in line to receive new equipment from Spring 2023.

The average lifespan for a cardio machine is five years and the costs to repair will outstrip the value of the machine, resulting in a higher repair bill.

This £1.5m cash injection will make sure each centre has new kit for gym-goers to use.

Overhead floor plan (artist impression) of the new gym facilities due to be installed at Clifton Leisure Centre in the Spring of 2023.
3D impression of Clifton Leisure Centre gym

Active Nottingham has set money aside to support the income generated from customers, allowing the investment to be made without the need for borrowing or impacting on wider day-to-day council services.

With increasing membership numbers and by listening to members, replacing old equipment will improve customer satisfaction as well as mental and physical health and wellbeing.

It will also allow Active Nottingham to remain competitive in an ever-growing sport and leisure marketplace – especially as today’s gym-goer wants to see smart technology on fitness equipment to enhance the gym experience.

Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, Cllr Pavlos Kotsonis, said: “I am pleased we are investing in our residents’ mental health and wellbeing by replacing the current gym equipment. This will play an important role in the promotion of getting more people active within our community.”

John Wileman, Head of Sport and Leisure for Active Nottingham, said: “This is great news for our members and local residents at each of the six Active Nottingham locations. We are always looking to improve and replacing our equipment means our gyms are not just great to use, but we are directly helping the city of Nottingham.”

The state-of-the-art fitness equipment will be purchased by Active Nottingham over the next five years, providing an enhanced gym experience to residents and members at Active Nottingham’s six leisure centres.

Overhead floor plan (artist impression) of the new gym facilities due to be installed at Harvey Hadden Sports Village in the Spring of 2023.
3D impression of Harvey Hadden Sports Village gym

Active Nottingham Leisure Centre first in the country to be recognised for tackling inequalities

Active Nottingham’s Ken Martin Leisure Centre (part of Nottingham City Council) in Nottingham has become the first leisure centre in the country to achieve the Quest Tackling Inequalities in Leisure Standard, demonstrating its commitment to tackling inequalities.

The Tacking Inequalities in Leisure accolade was bestowed on the centre as part of its Sport England Quest assessment, which measures how well a facility is operating and how effective organisations are across a range of areas.

First established more than 20 years ago, the renowned Quest award has evolved over the years to keep pace with the ever-changing sport and leisure industry, now including aspects such as the Tackling Inequalities assessment and an Exercise on Referral Standard.  Still the sector’s best-known improvement programme, its rigorous assessments challenge even the very best leisure centres in the UK.

Councillor Pavlos Kotsonis, Nottingham City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, said: “I’m thrilled that our efforts and the ongoing work at Ken Martin Leisure Centre have been recognised with the Tackling Inequalities in Leisure Standard. This is a fantastic achievement and a testament to the dedication and hard work of our team. As a service, Active Nottingham is committed to providing accessible leisure facilities and I hope this encourages more local residents with disabilities and those with long-term health conditions to be active.”

Ken Martin Leisure Centre was recognised for working hard to ensure all demographics of the local community are welcome and find the centre accessible, which includes partnering with trusted local organisations, such as housing associations, primary care networks, social prescribing teams and mental health services.

The Sport and Physical Activity team have also been working with the community to help remove any barriers to access through campaigns such as Get Out Get ActiveThis Girl Can and the Disability Sport Insight and Participation project, which invited people living with a disability to try the facility for free in exchange for honest feedback.

Kirsty Worthington, General Manager at Ken Martin Leisure Centre says: “As well as proactively researching the demographics of our area so we can anticipate some of our community’s needs, we take a more holistic and individualistic appreciation of their requirements by working with partners, such as My Sight NottsDisability Direct and the Women’s Centre, and local projects, including community-based sports groups, to directly engage with people living in the local area.

“This includes attending local meetings and events, such as community fun days, inviting groups to attend the centre and help alleviate first-time visit anticipation, as well as offering virtual tours and subtitled centre walk-through videos on our website and social media, so people know what to expect in advance.

“The area around the centre has some of the highest levels of deprivation across the UK, experiencing a number of health challenges. Added to this, the area has a mixed population of ethnicities, including new and emerging communities, a large proportion of families and single-parent families, as well as a significant population of older people.  We need to offer programmes and activities that truly cater for everyone.”

Some of the activities that ticked the boxes for the Tackling Inequalities in Leisure Standard assessment team include Swim for Health, a 50+ morning and line dancing classes, which all attract a diverse attendance, as well as low-intensity mental health mindfulness classes, which enable customers to learn mindfulness meditation practices to help relax, reduce stress, slow down and live their life in the present.

Along with Active Nottingham’s other leisure centres, Ken Martin also boasts CredAbility accreditation; an independent quality mark run by disabled people, and the CredAbility Access Card, a national scheme that commits organisations to providing a quality service to people with a disability. The CredAbility Access +1 card scheme also allows holders to gain free access for essential companions or carers at Active Nottingham leisure centres.

Kirsty explains: “The CredAbility Access Card acts as evidence that someone needs support to use our services or is eligible for our offers.  Not only does it mean we discreetly know they are entitled to concessionary prices and may require individual help, they know we are a verified accessible venue with their best interests at heart.”

Sarah Maxwell, Head of External Accreditations at Right Directions, which manages Quest on behalf of Sport England, says: “We were truly impressed with the investment Ken Martin Leisure Centre has made around inclusivity for its local community.  For instance, the video on the Swim School is one of the most inclusive videos I have seen as an Assessor, with information being available in picture, sound and caption formats for members of the community, users and coaches.

“All the evidence, which includes investment in Disability Training Scenario Videos and Unconscious Bias Training to help prepare staff for their roles, demonstrates the centre and organisation are quality, not quantity, driven, with a focus on individual opportunities and thought, without taking a ‘blanket approach’ to their customers’ needs.”

Man swimming in pool at Ken Martin Leisure Centre. Right arm is stretched out in front as he does a Front Crawl.

Active Nottingham leisure centre awarded top marks on ‘Quest’ for excellence

Active Nottingham’s Ken Martin Leisure Centre has been awarded ‘Excellent’ for its facilities and services, recognising high quality within UK Sport and Leisure.

It joins Djanogly Community Leisure Centre at the top of the rankings for 2022 – another site run by Active Nottingham, part of Nottingham City Council.

An industry standard developed by the UK Sports Council, Quest assessors look at a range of factors including operational management and approaches to engaging with customers through to community outcomes. Taking place over a two-day on-site assessment and a mystery shopper visit, the overall process ensures a thorough review takes place and provides assurances a quality service is being provided to residents.

Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, Cllr Pavlos Kotsonis, said: “I’m thrilled Ken Martin Leisure Centre has been awarded ‘Excellent’ for its performance and management on the latest Quest Assessment. This is a testament to the incredible work and dedication of our front-line staff delivering best practice and the highest industry standard for the benefit of Nottingham residents using the centre.”

Ken Martin Leisure Centre General Manager, Kirsty Worthington, said: “Thank you to everyone at Ken Martin Leisure Centre and the wider Sport and Leisure teams for their assistance and support during the Quest preparation as well as the recent two-day assessment. It’s brilliant news for us all that we were rated as ‘Excellent’ as it highlights the hard work that is put into Ken Martin Leisure Centre. The hard work does not stop here, we will continue to assess, reflect and progress the site and the services we offer to Nottingham residents and customers. Great job everyone!”.

Ken Martin Leisure Centre has been externally assessed and achieved Quest Plus - Excellent. This certificate expires in July 2024. Image includes Quest logo, Sport England Logo.

For more information about Quest, visit: https://www.questaward.org/ 

Active Nottingham operates six leisure centres across the city of Nottingham: Clifton Leisure Centre, Djanogly Community Leisure Centre, Harvey Hadden Sports Village, Ken Martin Leisure Centre, Southglade Leisure Centre, and Victoria Leisure Centre.

Visit www.activenottingham.com for more information or to find your nearest centre

Take a virtual tour of Active Nottingham without leaving your house!

A NEW virtual tour promoting the facilities of six leisure centres in Nottingham has been launched by Active Nottingham, part of Nottingham City Council.

The online tool not only allows users to see inside each Active Nottingham leisure centre but also view spaces from 360-degree angles. During the tour, potential members can gain virtual access to the facilities and visit each building from the comfort of their mobile device or computer.

Virtual Tour Image - Harvey Hadden Sports Village Gym

Active Nottingham is much more than just a ‘gym’ with indoor swimming pools, saunas, steam rooms and a range of exercise classes, there is something for everyone and the new virtual tour allows potential members to explore the layout and details prior to arrival.

Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, Cllr Pavlos Kotsonis, said:

“I’m delighted Active Nottingham have launched their virtual tours, especially as they provide flexibility for potential members as well as those who may not be comfortable with having an in-person tour and want the freedom to view the leisure centres at their leisure.

“The tours also offer valuable information for service users wanting to understand access arrangements, where the changing rooms are, where specific rooms are for classes etc.

“Nottingham residents will benefit greatly from these tours and I hope they will inspire more people to get active.”

For more information and to view the new Active Nottingham Nottingham virtual tours, visit https://www.activenottingham.com/virtual-tour/

In-person tours are still available and can be booked by visiting www.activenottingham.com/enquire

Virtual Tour Image - Victoria Leisure Centre Swimming Pool

Can this brown gal swim? The final day!

It’s the final day of Summaya’s challenge and the Brown Gal Can’t Swim podcast and if you’ve stuck with us this far, you’ll have heard Summaya talking about why she is learning to swim at 27, changing rooms within swimming facilities, modesty and swimwear, plus why you should learn to swim given the apparent dangers with water.

Summaya stands in the swimming pool with water, looking up and talking to swimming teacher Victoria (who is stood at the side of the swimming pool)

Summaya (in water) and Nottingham Swim School Teacher, Victoria (right)

Spoiler Alert!

Now, if you’ve not listened to the final day of the podcast series, then below are some spoilers!

Let’s rewind to a cold, wet and windy day in Nottingham and a team of supporters (plus some open water swimmers) headed to Spring Lakes to watch Summaya take on her final task – a 500m open water swim.

Spring Lakes

Spring Lakes

Summaya is putting on a brave face as she mentally prepares for the swim and kindly snaps some images with our team and is interviewed by the BBC. She’s compiled a Brown Gal Can’t Swim playlist for everyone to listen to as she counts down the time before she gets into the cold lake.

As it nears 4 pm, the nerves are kicking in – it is a miserable day weather-wise, she’s paranoid about the swans and ducks plus a lot of emotions are racing through her mind – however, her swim coaches are here (Nottingham Swim School teacher Victoria Charles and Her Spirit’s Mel Berry), plus Olympian Alice Dearing providing words of calm, encouragement and advice as she prepares to get into the water. As she pops back into the changing room for a pep talk with her brother, she decides she needs a moment alone, saying: “(I’m) feeling really nervous….I’ve got butterflies….but I’m feeling ready – let’s do this”.

Right before she gets in the water, she listens to Ella Henderson’s Ghost to help calm her.

Summaya, wearing her wetsuit, floation device and headphones, being interviewed by the BBC

Summaya, listening to Ella Henderson Ghost.

The time is now 4:15 pm and Summaya begins her swim, taking it in her stride, like a duck to water! She swims the first 200m using a variety of strokes and is looking strong, but then stops and it looks as though she might be struggling….. But after a few words of encouragement and advice from the boat (with one of her coaches, Mel Berry, who is following), she powers on.

All the while Summaya is in the water, there are groups of swimmers also in the lake. They join her for the last push – providing an open water swim supporter group! Everyone is on the bank cheering and shouting to Summaya for the home stretch and the sound is deafening!

Summaya is being interviewed by the BBC and a camera crew stands in front of her as she emerges from the lake

Summaya, emerging victorious from Spring Lakes

At 4:39 pm, 24 minutes after she started the swim Summaya has done it! Summaya has swam 500m in open water after only learning how to swim 8 weeks ago – what an amazing achievement.

As she leaves the water, she tells the crowd (who have now gathered) “That felt like a lot. It was really really hard….eight weeks ago I literally couldn’t swim and today I’ve managed to do 500m in open water. If I can do it, and I could not swim at all, then anyone can do it! no matter how embarrassed you might feel about not having a (swimming) skill, it could save your life. with the right support and the right people around you, you can make it happen”.

Summaya, just finished the 500m open water swim, stands with her coat on, looking up and chatting to Rob Green

Summaya and Rob Green

Can this Brown Gal Swim? She sure can and she did an incredible job! To listen to the Brown Gal Can’t Swim series in full, click here.

Get Out Get Active Nottingham has been honoured to work alongside Active Nottingham in supporting Summaya Mughal’s Brown Gal Can’t Swim campaign. The values of the project of supporting more people to be more active and overcoming the barriers faced to being active perfectly aligns with the campaign’s ambitions to address the lack of South Asian and other ethnic minority swimmers in our pools across the country.

Swimming is a fantastic activity for people of all ages and all abilities, including people with disabilities and long-term health conditions, that has multiple benefits both for our physical and mental wellbeing. However, for many who have never learnt to swim, or who have anxieties about accessing a pool, it can feel really overwhelming and can prevent people not only from accessing swimming pools but also from gaining the vital life skill of swimming and being safe in the water.

Through the GOGA project, we have worked on a number of swimming initiatives such as the development of our Swim for Health programme across the six Active Nottingham pools which provides a public swim in a quieter setting with the support of flotation aids within the pool and other supportive equipment such as gradual steps.

However we know that often the biggest barrier can often be overcoming the mental and emotional barriers and that’s why we are so inspired by the work of Summaya and her Brown Gal Can’t Swim campaign and it’s endeavour to break down the stigma around learning to swim or accessing support to enjoy swimming and we are proud to have been a partner, alongside Active Nottingham, in this work.

Well done Summaya!

Summaya, pictured left, and Claudia (Get Out Get Active Nottingham) pictured right after the 500m open water swim

Summaya (left) and Claudia from Get Out Get Active Nottingham (right) celebrating the 500m swim

If you’ve been inspired to take up swimming, get in touch with Nottingham Swim School today and see how we can help you on your own swim journey.

Brown Gal Can’t Swim: City Council helps BBC presenter to get South Asian women swimming

Summaya Mughal (left) and Alice Dearing (right). Image: Charlie Firth

Nottingham-born BBC presenter Summaya Mughal has been learning to swim at Active Nottingham pools in a bid to encourage other South Asian women to take the plunge.

Active Nottingham, part of Nottingham City Council, has supported her during her journey which she starts sharing on air this week. Her five-part series looks into learning to swim at the age of 27 and explores why many South Asian women are less likely to swim.

In revealing that she couldn’t swim, Summaya exposed the cultural barriers that she faced and how it has affected her both physically and mentally. As part of this journey, Summaya has given other members of the South Asian community the confidence to take their first steps into swimming.

As a result of her campaign, Summaya was honoured at the Nottingham Awards 2022 last week for her work in the Voluntary and Community Sector. Meanwhile, Active Nottingham, Nottingham Swim School and the council’s school swimming department have been honoured at the recent Swim England Teaching and Education Awards.

The series titled ‘Brown Gal Can’t Swim’ sees Summaya learn to swim in just eight weeks at Active Nottingham swimming pools, supported by Nottingham Swim School swimming teacher Victoria Charles. Olympians Rebecca Adlington and Alice Dearing also provide support and guidance and set Summaya additional challenges including a 500m open water swim – will she do it? You’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out.

Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, Cllr Pavlos Kotsonis, said: “We’re thrilled to be a part of this project with Summaya and the BBC to help raise awareness and showcase the importance of learning to swim within South Asian communities. This campaign will go a long way to help break down barriers that people face when it comes to swimwear, changing rooms, and going swimming itself and help get more communities involved in swimming.

“Active Nottingham and Nottingham Swim School are proud to have helped Summaya learn to swim over the past eight weeks and it was great to see her face the 500m open water challenge at Spring Lakes.

“Summaya has also worked with the black swimming association to challenge the lack of representation of black and Asian people in both recreational and elite swimming – she also engaged with Olympic swimmers Becky Adlington and Alice Dearing in her campaign, who both set her challenges for Summaya to complete.

Her work with diverse communities is second to none, both engaging as well as empowering!”

The Brown Gal Can’t Swim podcast is available on BBC Sounds: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/series/p0ctzgft It will also be broadcast as a series on BBC East Midlands Today from Tuesday 11 October 2022.

Summaya at Southglade Leisure Centre. Image: Charlie Firth 

Is there a better time of day to work out?

Are you a morning or evening person? Some people find it easier to exercise in the morning as their energy levels are at their highest, others prefer to wait until the evening as it fits better with their daily life.The time of day we choose to workout will depend on many things – ultimately it needs to fit in with everything in our lives. It needs to fit around work, studies, family and other commitments. We also need to choose times best suited to our bodies and our natural energy levels. The best time to exercise is down to us, working out whenever we can and being consistent.There are some benefits to exercising at certain times of the day, take a look below.

Morning workouts:

Important: if exercising in the morning don’t forget to sufficiently warm up. Your muscles and joints tend to be “colder” when you have just woken up and are more prone to injury.

Afternoon/evening workouts:

Regardless of the time of day we exercise, it is still very important to ensure we warm up sufficiently.

Try to find a time to work out that suits your lifestyle – taking all aspects into consideration – but most importantly, a time that you will consistently be able to stick with in the long run.

Man doing press up with kettle bells in a gym

Staying Motivated

Have you ever started a fitness regime and then quit? If you answered yes, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many people start fitness and wellness programmes but stop when they get bored, aren’t enjoying it or don’t see the results as quickly as they’d hoped. Here are some tips to help you stay motivated.

If you ever feel your motivation slipping, review these tips to remind yourself of the ‘why’.

#BeExceptional and let us help you stay motivated. At Active Nottingham you have access to 6 gyms, 6 pools, 6 health suites and over 300 fitness classes. Find out more about our memberships here.

Claire Henson Blog – Stay Safe, Stay Active, Start Small

Claire Henson

“Hello! I hope you are all keeping safe and well. Let me introduce myself, my name is Claire and I am a Mental Health First Aid England Instructor, founder of The Mind Map project and The Anxious Exercise Club and, programme lead for the Tricky to Talk programme at Nottingham Forest Community Trust.

I also live with a long-term anxiety condition which I manage day-to-day. Back in 2015, I had a relapse in my long term anxiety condition, which made leaving my home very difficult. Some days, it took all my strength to walk to the car to be able to go to work, and that did not leave me very productive for the rest of the day! I knew that activity and exercise were good for me and that it would ease the symptoms of my mental ill-health. But the anxious voice in my head was a lot louder when telling me that the outside was scary and there was no point in even trying.

Towards the end of 2015, I became more and more unwell, with long-term pain, muscle stiffness and overwhelming fatigue. I was referred to the hospital and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I was given guidance on how to manage my condition and one of the overwhelming pieces of advice was to do more activity. I knew I had to listen to the doctors, but I also still had the anxious voice.

So I made a compromise. I walked to the post box and back. It was about 500 yards and I started doing it once a day. Then I walked to the church just next to the postbox and then onto the bench. Every week, I added a small chunk onto my walk and it didn’t feel unmanageable, even the anxious voice quietened down. I began a circuit each evening, I simply did three or four rounds of the circuit.

Claire's postbox

This simple activity allowed me to rebuild my life. It wasn’t instant, there wasn’t a miracle cure. I still live with a long term anxiety condition that I manage each day. But I do experience the benefits of what activity can bring to my life and how it helps me to manage my anxiety.

The reason I am talking about this today is that I am finding myself in a very similar situation as we live in the current lockdown situation. I’ve found exercising very difficult due to fear and anxiety. So I wanted to take some time to talk about getting active whilst living with a mental health condition and whilst living in lockdown.

Today, I went for a small walk.

It took some bargaining with the anxious voice, but I felt able to get up a little earlier and take a few steps outside. It wasn’t about distance or the number of steps I completed, it was about breathing and feeling the sunshine. It was about letting my whole body know that whilst these are extremely frightening times, these few small steps can benefit our mental wellbeing and help us to get through this time.

There is lots of information out there currently about how we can get active in our homes, which is fantastic. But it can also be overwhelming, so I hope this post, and future ones, will let you know you are not alone.”

Community activator with big ambitions to make exercise more inclusive

Kelly Evans Community Activator

A trial partnership is helping up-skill Nottingham City Council employees to make exercise in Nottingham City more inclusive.

Community Activators have been working across the city for the past sixteen months, signposting people with a disability or long term illness into activities in the community or at one of the city’s eight leisure centres. One of these people, Kelly Evans, has embarked on a newly launched Level 3 Qualification delivered by HFE, the UK’s leading provider of personal training courses and fitness qualifications.

The Level 3 Award in Programming and Supervising Exercise with Disabled Clients, or simply Level 3 Exercise for Disabled Clients, is nationally recognised and awarded by one of the industry’s oldest awarding bodies, YMCA Awards. This means there’s a wealth of opportunity for Kelly to use this course up and down the country .

As one of the very few providers in the country who deliver this course, HFE are well placed to support Nottingham City Council in this new venture to up-skill their staff and serve a demographic that is currently greatly under-represented. Reports suggest that 1 in 5 people in the UK has a disability, which equates to nearly 11 million people. Unfortunately, only 18% of disabled adults undertake physical activity lasting longer than 30 minutes a week and this is compared to 38% of non-disabled adults.

Disability sport is highly important to Nottingham. Developing disability sport is a significant priority in the city’s Sport and Physical Activity Strategy (2015-2019); outlined in this is the aspiration to become ‘the fastest growing city for disability sports (physical activity) participation’.

To engage more people living with a disability or long term health condition, Nottingham City Council have taken bold steps in improving accessibility to leisure centres and enhancing the existing swim, gym and fitness offers to be more inclusive. To add to this, leisure centre staff have also taken part in some entry level disability confidence training to enable them to better advise customers who might require additional support.

Clearly, even more can and should be done to encourage disabled people to exercise and that’s why HFE have partnered with Nottingham City Council’s Active Nottingham to help up-skill staff and provide even more inclusive opportunities across their eight leisure centres.

Speaking about the potential of this partnership, Colin Eley said: ‘Working with HFE means we’re able to equip our staff with a more comprehensive knowledge-base to better support people accessing our service. We aim to empower citizens living with a disability or long term condition to feel confident when accessing our services while forming sustainable physical activity habits.”

Kelly, whose Community Activator role covers the Bulwell, Bulwell Forest, Bestwood and Basford wards, is the first Active Nottingham member of staff to take part in the new initiative, and she outlined how excited she was to start a new fitness journey:

“Having always been involved in fitness and sport I am very aware of the mental and physical benefits that exercise can have on people, regardless of where they currently are in their fitness journey.

Kelly Evans Running

“I am currently working with individuals who want to become more physically active but who find their long term conditions or disabilities a barrier. For them this means sessions that are perceived as a ‘mainstream’ exercise for all are not always suitable for their needs.

“During this course I am looking forward to learning new skills and broadening my knowledge base so I can better support individuals who have a broader variety of needs with exercise . I am hoping to be able to share this experience and outcomes from the course with other members of my team, so we can adapt and provide a more suitable/focused service for individuals with long term conditions or disabilities in the future.”

The council has just launched a new campaign – It’s For Me – to provide information about the accessibility, suitability and affordability of leisure provision in the city, reassuring citizens that they will be adequately provided for when they visit the council’s leisure facilities and take part in activities.

Jack’s experience with our Visually Impaired Tennis sessions


Jack, aged 25, who has been visually impaired from birth, travels to the Nottingham Tennis Centre once a week to play Visually Impaired Tennis and train for Regional and National tournaments around the Country.

“Give it a go, you might be better than you think.”

The Friday evening session that he attends from 6-7pm is open to all ages and abilities, with the youngest player being just ten years old.

You don’t have to be a member to play and you don’t need any expensive equipment either, as the centre provides rackets and an “audible” foam ball, which is attached to a bell to help you find its location.

In many ways, the game is the same as the national game played by the likes of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, it’s just played on a Junior Orange court with a lower net.

Jack and his fellow players are allowed one to three bounces of the ball, depending on their visual impairment, of which there are five categories: B1 (blind) through to B5 (almost fully sighted). Jack falls under B3, and so gets two bounces of the ball.


“It’s great fun and I’d love more people to play as it would give more variety at the tournaments I play in.”

Jack was just four years old when he started playing tennis after his Dad searched for a sport that they could play together. He’s really keen to create a legacy and encourage others to try it out too, at least once.

He’s so keen he even offers to mentor anyone who’s nervous about doing something new – offering to meet them at the Tennis Centre to welcome them and put them at ease.

For the last five years, Jack has regularly travelled to play both singles and doubles matches competitively in tournaments at Loughborough, Birmingham, Newcastle and London. His proudest achievement so far has been his recent reaching of the quarter finals, but he claims it’s not about winning – it’s about taking part and being active.

“There’s always someone better than the person at the top,  they just may not have started playing yet.”

Besides playing tennis and studying for his PHD at Derby University, Jack also loves walking and enjoys playing chess – something he modestly admits to being fairly good at, as he was once within the world’s top 7000 players.


Visually Impaired Tennis is just one of our specialist sessions.  Visit our Disability Activities page for other activities you can take part in.

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