Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Feel Good with GoodGym

GoodGym York has been up and running for just over seven weeks now and is an amazing thing to be a part of. If you've not already heard me going on and on about what it is, I've written another blog post to explain about all the doing good. You'll hear that a lot from GoodGym converts all over the UK; we are 'doing good', but what I want to tell you about is how good it makes you feel too.

One of GoodGym's aims is to tackle social isolation but it's not just older people who are isolated. These days younger people are often just as lonely, relying on social media to connect with others and doing little in the way of hobbies. That real life interaction is missing for so many people and with it comes a whole host of mental health problems; depression and social anxiety in particular.

Yes, you need to have some sort of interest in running to get involved with GoodGym but it's not like other running groups, it's a social affair where everyone is welcome and nobody cares what pace you're running at. In fact, the pace usually slows a little because we're chatting so much. Some trainers (no names) have even been known to run the wrong way because they're so engrossed in conversation. The running itself isn't the focus either, it's purely a means to get somewhere to do your good deed.

As well as the endorphin boost of doing some exercise outdoors, each run is like a mini team building exercise. Once you've arrived at your task, everybody has to figure out the best way to complete it and this process becomes more effective every single week.

So we're socialising, we're outside and we are exercising.. then you add in the satisfaction of actually achieving something that somebody else really appreciates. That warm fuzzy feeling of altruism. BBC Radio York reported from the task we did on Monday and the residents were absolutely delighted with what we had achieved - they even gave us an 11 out of 10! Just hearing how much they appreciated it made my day yesterday. The word "superheroes" was banded about a lot yesterday on the radio and you do sort of feel a bit heroic, running all over town helping people out.

The clincher today was on my first coach run. I have been paired with a wonderful older person, she sees her family once a week at the weekend but doesn't really see anybody else throughout the week, so I've committed to run to her place once a week for a social visit. We had a brilliant chat, during which I was force-fed rich tea biscuits (had to slightly deviate from my current no biscuit rule) and shown the amazing power of a lightweight, cordless vacuum cleaner. An hour of chat passed so quickly and I can't wait for my next visit - which is written on her calendar along with a smiley face. I received a huge hug at the door when I left and was waved off with a grin. If that doesn't make you feel completely tremendous then I don't know what will.

If you have a GoodGym local to you then I really urge you to give it a go - if we all do a little bit of good we can make ourselves and everybody else feel happier, and that is worth a lot.

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