The Good Gym Guide
Oct 23, 2019 31 min
Maintaining our Gym’s Unique Culture with Darren Faulkner of Primal Gym
For the last episode of this series, I spoke with Darren Faulkner, one of the founders of Primal Gym in Leeds. When I asked Darren to imagine his ideal training environment, he paused for a while, looked around, and then said that he felt that Primal Gym was pretty much it. He is in the rare and enviable position of having made his dream gym a reality. In this interview, he talks us through the systems he has put in place to bring people into this vision and help them achieve what they want from their training. Everything has been thought through, from the design of the entrance and waiting area, to the initial tour, consultation, and ongoing training. Primal Gym was named by The Telegraph in 2017 as the best facility in the UK for “those who hate the gym”, so where better to learn about alternative gym design?!
Oct 16, 2019 25 min
Truly Accessible Training with Gina & Chris Hopkins of Adaptive Martial Arts
This episode is with Gina and Chris Hopkins, from Adaptive Martial Arts. AMA provide martial arts training for all abilities. Rather than coaching in a particular lineage or tradition, they take an innovative mixed approach, drawing from multiple disciplines to best suit the specific people they are working with in their classes. They give some examples of how they assess a potential training venue as being truly, naturally accessible rather than just tokenistic, and get really specific about the journey they take new, possibly anxious trainees on, from the moment they make contact with AMA through to becoming a regular class member, and maybe even on to grading and competition. Gina and Chris spoke about all aspects of their training environment, from regulation and governance, business and finances, considering all stakeholders, marketing, communications, coaching, layout of the space, design of clothing and equipment.... It is clear that they had already put so much thought into every aspect of what they do, and I learned so much from hearing them talk about it.
Oct 09, 2019 26 min
Gyms as Shared Play Spaces with Charlie Bones of X-Ray Spexercise
This episode is with Charlie Bones, who runs the X-Ray Spexercise Punk Aerobics classes. In the familiar environments of music venues and pubs, she pairs classic punk culture with simple aerobic exercises to share the benefits of physical activity with people who can’t stand gyms and gym playlists. She talks about how she creates an environment where people feel okay to make mistakes, get sweaty, and look silly, and how she avoids common problems of coaching large groups - like cueing better technique without making people feel singled-out. Charlie’s imagined training space combines huge, unconstrained dreams of beaches, jungles, water slides, live music - with provision of overlooked essentials like childcare, life skills, and affordable food. It’s an environment that wants you to feel good while training, as well as afterwards.
Oct 02, 2019 22 min
Designing for Different Needs with David Sully of Stride Fitness
This episode is with David Sully, who runs two very different exercise groups in Bristol - the LGBTQ fitness classes at Hamilton House and the Yate Active Wellbeing Group. Although the content of these classes, and the people who go to them, are very different, in both settings Dave creates a space where exercise is used as a tool not just for improving our physical health, but also to start conversations and build relationships. Dave talks about his experience of using exercise to improve his mental health, how this led him to train as a PT and start the classes, what he’s learned in the years he’s been doing them, and how he’d take these lessons into the running of a permanent, dedicated training space designed around the needs of these groups and others under-served by most gyms.
Sep 25, 2019 23 min
Making the Gym an Urban Idyll with Devaki of Curvy Girl Yoga
This episode is with Devaki, the founder of Curvy Girl Yoga. In her classes, Devaki creates a dedicated, celebratory space for women sized 16 or more to practice yoga. She describes how she builds this environment with openness and humour, nurturing the relationships between those who’ve been attending for a while and welcoming any newcomers into that culture. In the second part of our interview, she describes her ideal training space, taking influence from vastu shastra - a traditional Hindu system of architecture - and Scandinavian design. She talks about the relationship between the outside and inside, both in terms of buildings - softening the boundaries between indoors and outdoors - and bodies - in making sure we attend to both our physical and mental health.
Sep 18, 2019 21 min
Learning from Global Training Traditions with Peter Hodkinson of Body Mind Fitness
This first episode is with Peter Hodkinson of Body Mind Fitness. Peter produces beautiful wooden training equipment, as used in movement traditions from all across the world - clubs from India, meels, maces and sang shields from Persia, tai-chi balls from China... He has travelled widely to experience some of these methods in their place of origin, and he talks about how this has affected his approach to his own training, and to the classes and workshops he leads at home in Bradford-on-Avon.