A case study on Push2Fitness, part of the Active Villages Programme

A busy Devon mum discusses the project that has boosted her health and fitness and was nominated for a National Lottery Award.

Twice a week, 32-year-old mother-of-three Rachel Perry takes baby Oscar along to Push2Fitness classes near her home at St Giles in the Heath.

The sessions – which involve pushing prams and buggies while exercising - were set up as part of the Devon Active Villages scheme that aims to get small communities across the county involved in sport.

“The classes have been life changing,” said Rachel. “Having access to them means I am able to exercise and improve my fitness, bringing my baby with me. I’ve struggled in the past to be able to maintain a fitness routine as I have to find childcare and rely on other people. This class means we can just go!” 

“My fitness has improved week on week, and I am also toning up and losing weight. Being fit and healthy sets a good example to my children, which can only be positive for their future. Every mum should have access to a class like this,” she added.

Push2Fitness is one of many success stories for the Devon Active Villages project, which has helped more than 12,000 people in rural areas take part in sport on their doorstep. The scheme was launched in 2010 by Active Devon with a National Lottery grant and funding from Devon County Council.

Active Villages was the only regional project in England nominated for a 2013 National Lottery Sports Award. 
Overall around 155 villages will benefit from the backing of Devon Active Villages.
Fitness instructor Kerry Gardiner came up with the idea for Push2Fitness while she was on maternity leave.

“I teach pilates and aerobics but there was nothing like this for mums with babies, something that would help them get fit without any childcare problems. So I devised a session that would allow mums – and dads – to push themselves and their prams,” she said.
Kerry runs hour-long Push2Fitness classes at St Giles in the Heath on Fridays and Roadford Lake on Tuesdays.  Around 25 parents take part, including husband Martin and their 14-month old son Sullivan.

She is full of praise for the support of Active Devon and their Active Villages programme.
“It’s fantastic. They offer help in so many ways with things like advertising, equipment, training, and contacts to promote my classes,” said Kerry.

“It’s great to see so many people in rural communities really benefitting from this scheme. And it’s not just about fitness. The social aspect is also very important. People can feel quite isolated in remote parts of the countryside but I know of some who’ve said that access to an exercise class given them confidence and helped with depression,” she added.