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Get Active: Free fitness born in Barking and Dagenham parks

PUBLISHED: 13:00 26 August 2015 | UPDATED: 13:08 26 August 2015

Our Parks is promoting free outdoor fitness classes as the alternative to expensive gym memberships

Our Parks is promoting free outdoor fitness classes as the alternative to expensive gym memberships

Archant

Expense is no longer an obstacle to getting active thanks to a leisure industry insider bringing free fitness to the borough.

Born Barikor, 33, left his job as a community sports officer last year to set up Our Parks, which applies for council funding to run free fitness classes – including three a week in Barking and Dagenham.

He said he left his old job when he realised that expensive gym fees were stopping people keeping fit.

“Sport can change lives – I wanted to find a way to make exercise accessible,” he said. “I found out everyone in London lives within a mile of a park.

“So on a Saturday we have bums, abs and thighs class at 10am in Barking Park, followed by a box fit class at 11am.

“And we run a bootcamp for all abilities in Valence Park on Sundays at 10am.”

But Born’s thrifty fitness push hasn’t seen him scrimp on class coaches, who are all carefully chosen professionals.

“All of the coaches who try out for Our Parks have to go through an audition process,” he said. “It involves them coaching each other – we have yoga teachers coaching boxers and vice versa.”

Born believes the classes, which are wholly funded by the council, are securing a fit future for the borough.

“The idea is to create an environment where families can bring their kids to exercise – this is free fitness for all,” he said. “We are building a sustainable generation of people who know how to use their park that can educate their kids and the park will always be there.”

And council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell shares his vision.

“We’re delighted to host these classes in our parks,” he said. “We’re encouraging anyone who’d like to get fit to give them a try.”

Classes are set to run until November 21.


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