Young and fit at the Gasyard

David Doherty, left, Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum fitness instructor, with from left, Sandra Duffy, First Housing, Michael McGlinchey, Columb Watson, Daniel Forrester and Liam McLaughlin, First Housing support worker. (1102PG48)
David Doherty, left, Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum fitness instructor, with from left, Sandra Duffy, First Housing, Michael McGlinchey, Columb Watson, Daniel Forrester and Liam McLaughlin, First Housing support worker. (1102PG48)

A new project has just been launched at the Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum aimed at promoting fitness among young people.

The programme has been organised with First Housing, in association with the Brandywell and Bogside Health Forum at the Gasyard Centre, and is designed for young people under 25 years-old.

Sandra Duffy from First Housing said the project involves designing an individual fitness programme for young people involved which is delivered on a one-to-one basis by a qualified fitness instructor.

Ms Duffy said the aim of the scheme is to improve fitness and health levels among young people in the social housing sector who would not normally be involved in healthy living programmes.

She said that First Housing are currently working with around 75 young people between the ages of 16 and 25 years-old and six are now involved in the fitness programme.

“It is an all encompassing project looking at all health issues from exercise, diet.

“We launched it two weeks ago and we have six young people involved and they seem to be enjoying it and getting a lot out of it,” she said.

Explaining how the project works, Karen Mullan from the Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum, said: “It is a twelve week step up programme based on a one-to-one gym exercise regime assisted by a personal trainer. It is tailored to suit their needs and built around each person individually.”

Ms Mullan added that she is pleased young men have become involved in the scheme. “Young men are a particularly hard target group to engage with so it is encouraging to see young men taking part in and enjoying it,” she explained.

She also said she hoped those currently involved in the project would develop a lasting enthusiasm for healthy living. “We have a wider men’s project which involves around 20 local men and it is hoped that one this 12 week programme has been completed some of those involved can move into that and that it will turn into something sustainable,” she said.

The community worker also said the project’s benefits go beyond improving the physical health of the young people involved. “As everyone knows, good physical health also leads to improved mental health.

“This programme has just started but we have already noticed a massive leap in the confidence of those taking part.

“The first week they were coming in with their heads down and would hardly even speak but after just a few sessions they have really moved forward and are even putting their names forward to volunteer for other projects at the Gasyard,” she said.

Ms Duffy added: “A lot of the young people we work with have suffered from depression and mental health issues and getting involved in something like this boosts their self-esteem and confidence. “

Ms Mullan said she hoped the project would grow in the future. “Hopefully this is just the start of things to come. Sandra has brought six people to take part and hopefully we can build on that.

“Many people don’t like going into gyms, particularly people who don’t have much confidence. It can be a daunting experience and where this is different is that it is one-to-one and designed to suit each individual person. There is a personal trainer there every step of the way for the 12 weeks.

“Those taking part can attend weekly training sessions in the Gasyard Centre gym lasting for one hour and casual sessions can also be organised if they want to get more involved.

“We have found that the causal sessions are already proving popular,” she said.

The organisers have also encouraged anyone interested in getting involved in the project to contact Davy or Donna at the Gasyard Centre on 71365330.