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Active Friends

The programme offers small group training for six to eight people. The idea is that six friends access the programme and are ‘taught’ by a personal trainer how to train together as a group using any equipment and any venue. They then are encouraged to continue this after the six-week programme to provide support and motivation for one another


The challenge

The aim was to tackle the fact that women persistently remain less active than men, and find a way for people to exercise long term whilst removing barriers such as:

  • cost
  • low confidence
  • lack of education
  • no venue
  • resistance to attending ‘traditional offers’
  • transport.

The solution

A small group six-week training programme which:

  • can be done anywhere such as a garden, the park, a driveway or a garage
  • is a welcoming and supportive environment
  • caters for all types of ladies of all abilities
  • is developed in a way that is inclusive and manageable whilst being reasonably challenging
  • is fun and interactive
  • is educational and empowering
  • is social and allows ladies to train with friends
  • gives women the knowledge, skills and confidence to continue to exercise beyond six weeks.

Although this programme is not restricted to women-only, it is designed in a way that many women may find appealing and tackles many of the barriers to physical activity that women can face.

The impact

One participant lost 1st 4lb, dropping from 16st 8lb to 15st 4lb, and another lost 9lbs.

Another participant said she had regained confidence with exercise as she has struggled with weight since her second child. The group has been a massive support to her, and she lost 10lb.

Most of those in the group lost weight and continued beyond the initial six sessions. They merged with another Active Friends groups, meeting twice per week. They initially disliked exercise and going to a gym, and what they would call a “normal exercise class” was unthinkable. They noticed the difference that exercise made to coping mentally with everyday life.

2023-24 Coalville Group

  • 100 per cent of participants increased their physical activity on a weekly basis.
  • 100 per cent of participants enjoyed the class.

Participant quotes:

I never really did exercise classes before, and it was great to do it with people I know. I have continued to do the exercise session as well engaging with the Let’s Get Moving Step into Fitness kettlebell session at the community centre. I would love if another class started on the estate.”

Kirstie Leanne

It gave me so much confidence and it was something for me having three young children, also a bit of stress release doing the boxing was really good as I don’t have hardly any spare time.”

Beth Loyd

So I’ve lost two stone, improved my fitness, I can squat better, can do a V sit hold. Don’t feel embarrassed in group if I can’t do something and the instructor adapted and explained everything as well as making it a laugh.”

Jane Reid

How is the new approach being sustained?

The participants continue to meet and train together. The Coalville group are also accessing the Step into Fitness, class increasing their physical activity levels further.

Lessons learned

The Coalville group was set up at a time of poor weather, with continuous downpours which hampered outdoor training. Therefore, a venue was hired to deliver the six sessions. Without this approach the sessions were a non-starter, as without good weather the programme can be restrictive or expensive.

As a result, the Coalville group is not as confident to train on its own, but accessing another of the programmes has supported them to remain active and engaged.

The Ashby group was happy to continue and had access to a garage in poor weather conditions.

Keeping the class focused on fun rather than being goal orientated works really well – they then inadvertently reach or work towards their goals.

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