We held a feedback session a few weeks ago to get your thoughts on how we could improve Good Gym and why you really do it. We’ve summarised the gist of it at the top and then transcribed all the post-its below. It’s really helpful stuff, thanks to everyone who took the time to feed into it.
What will we do about all this?
Thinking all of this through with you all was really useful. It seems like there are a few things that are coming out pretty clearly that we should do:
A newsletter for runners
A few of you talked about this as a way of keeping you up to date with what’s going on. We’ll include updates on group runs, stories from runners and coaches and other related stuff.
An info page with different stories of runners and coaches
We’ve put up a page on the site that tell a few stories about the relationships between coaches and runners and how they fit the running into their lives.
More guidance for initial meeting
A couple of you mentioned finding the first few weeks a bit awkward and that you’d like some guidance about questions to ask and things to talk about. We’ll write a brand new email which we’ll send to new runners just before their first run.
We mooted the idea of having some run tracking software and a friendly league of some kind. Generally you seemed supportive of this. Though some of you do not run with a smart phones so we’d need to find a way for people to track their runs without having one too.
Instead of saying what you’re getting for your payment (CRB/ t-shirt), we’ll change the page to say what you’re helping with; eg.‘sustaining the project and allowing us to find more older people.
We’re starting to plan more group runs and will ask York Hall if we can move them to weekly as soon as possible.
Calorie counting on group runs:
Some of you said that we’re not taking the ‘gym’ element seriously enough and you like more info on how much energy you’re burning on your runs. We’ll start making an estimate of the calories burnt during group runs and the associated activities and tell everyone while we’re doing it.
We’ll set up a mailing list so that you can easily ask each other questions.
Photo exchange- send a letter to the coach explaining who you are:
A few of you mentioned that you’d like your coach to know more about you before you arrived. We’re now sending new coaches a letter with some info about you.
Bigger post-it notes:
Tonight’s run was an unusually filthy. We didn’t give away the specifics until we were gathered outside York Hall, secretly we new that tonight’s mission was to tackle what is extremely likely to be the largest indigenous farm-created compost pile in all of East London.
We were lead tonight by the Simon Cole, long term Good Gym runner and boss of the most unusual, regionally-specific and exciting tour company Hackney Tours, who kept us all together and in good spirits. After a thorough talk about the general perils of the night and the dangers of running we headed out into the drizzly darkness feeling pretty brave. A slight detour at a community centre meant we arrived slightly late for our date at Stepney City farm, a place we visited for the first time in January and which have since showered us with offers of donkey running and were keen to have us again.
Annie the volunteer manager was sleeping over at the farm to practice her goat birthing skills, she hadn’t tried it before but was keen to give it a go even if it kept her up all night (kids these days…), so she was ready and waiting to let us in and show us to our pitch forks.
Annie (left) briefed us on the technicalities of compost airing, everybody was utterly thrilled to see the huge pile of semi-composted manure that awaited us.
This thrilled-ness was generally expressed by everyone looking a bit concerned by the sheer size of it.
It was not long until we were ankle deep in the stuff. Compost is quite heavy stuff and gives you a pretty good workout. Especially with such East London record-breaking quantities of it.
It was a truly spectacular sight to see a team of runners throwing the mixture of manure and straw into the air. As we got deeper into the stuff it started to release a lot of steam.
It also gave off a lot of heat, it was like being in some kind of unusual smelling sauna. All good gyms should have one.
In 30mins we had aired moved approximately 2.7 tons of manure. Something it would have taken one person more than a day to complete. It was tough work, using many of muscles not used in running.
The run home was uneventful but handy for getting the muck off the feet.
As a result of this run, we’re going to add a bit into the faqs that warns against wearing one’s most prized/snazzy running gear.
Next Monday is the regular group run from York Hall. We’re going to be running to tackle two tasks this time: the first is at Sonali Gardens, a day centre for older people in Whitechapel and the second is some good hard physical work at Stepney City farm. We estimate 6-7k total distance.
Please come dressed for mud and cold.
5-15 Old Ford Road
London E2 9PJ
(York Hall is close to Bethnal Green Tube)
Time: Leaving at 7pm, Monday 13th February, 2012
Other stuff: We’re not planning to do anything dangerous, but the Good Gym takes no responsibility for your safety during group runs, you participate at your own risk. York Hall has changing rooms and somewhere we can leave our stuff.
More information: is available on our frequently asked questions page.
Tonight the Good Gym is having a first test run in Chicago. Details for how to get involved are below. The run will begin in Lincoln park and head towards to an assisted living centre where we’ll be doing some good deeds. If you’re in Chicago this evening, come run with us.
The Good Gym is supporting people to test the Good Gym concept in a variety of locations and guiding them through the process of setting it up. We’re starting to create the infrastructure to support the project to run anywhere in the world and the group runs being organised are helping us work out how best to do that.
Running Away Multisport
2219 N. Clybourn Ave.
Chicago, IL 60614
(Close to Fullerton or Armitage on the el – there’s a map here)
Organisers: Patrick Gazely and Elaine Lopez
Time: Leaving at 6.30pm, Tuesday 7th February, 2012
Other stuff: We’re not planning to do anything dangerous, but the Good Gym takes no responsibility for your safety during group runs, you participate at your own risk.
More information: is available on our frequently asked questions page.
Having left York Hall (run by Social Enterprise GLL – good people, and which also has a really nice spa in the basement by the way), we headed up towards the canal. Judging by the photos, most of us were going so fast we turned invisible, but luckily we were lead by someone from Tron.
We were aiming for Headway UK, a charity charity that works to improve life after brain injury – they have a nice garden down by the canal that needed a bit of sorting. They also had a hefty pile of bricks that needed moving that were blocking an alleyway.
Most of us worked on sorting out the leaves which were all over the decking:
While others attacked the bricks using plastic chairs as hods:
Once that was pretty much sorted- bricks moved, garden tidy, we headed onto our next mission; distributing a stack of 200 flyers for St Joseph’s Hospice (they’re having a jumble sale). We split into two teams, one for odd numbers, one for even, and distributed the flyers evenly.
The different sides took slightly different techniques to ensuring that the leaflets reached their destinations – both had runners sprinting to see which side of the street could be finished first.
In 8mins we had distributed the flyers to every single building on the target 0.7km street and even did half of a different street to use of the rest of the flyers.
We’d run about 5k, and due to popular demand, we’ll be looking to step it up a bit over the next few runs, whilst still making sure we don’t leave anyone behind.
On another note; St Joseph’s Hospice are having a jumble sale; 10am- 1pm – this Saturday. Its on Mare Street close to London fields. Probably worth checking out. If you have any stuff you’d like to sell, it can be dropped off at reception any time.