Who are we?
Old School Fitness is homed in an old schoolhouse, built in 1873...thus, we are Old School Fitness. We started off (October 2018) with the aim of being like every other gym. Yet, we found that somehow, we were different. Very quickly, we created a very friendly and very loyal community.
We have male and female PTs, a yoga and a trainee yoga teacher, an occupational therapist, a life coach, a sport therapy centre, two running coaches, a beauty technician, and a bunch of smiley faces.
What a lot of us have in common is our belief in plant-based eating. OSF only uses plant-based milks and sells vegan snacks. We have several recipe books to encourage people to dabble in plant-based meals. Our mindset towards both our food, our bodies and our community is kindness. Only recently have we had the good fortune to link with a local plant nursery. Oakdene Microgreens have become an offshoot of OSF: now our local community has access to extremely nutritious plants as part of their everyday diet.
In OSF, we have a communal seated area with a fridge, freezer, tea and coffee, and books, which encourages people to socialise before and after their workouts. We offer a number of free activities such as walking groups, running groups, and mums and babies’ sessions (set up specifically to aid post-natal depression). Every month, we also pick a charity and fundraise: one month we collected used stamps for a rabbit shelter, another month we donated second-hand bras to Africa.
Several of our members are very open about their mental health struggles. For this reason, the gym has naturally evolved into one that supports both the physical and mental aspect of an individual. We have been able to take this one step further with our newest introduction - SAM: a support, accountability, and mindset coach. SAM is accessible to all. Whether it is goal setting or body confidence, SAM ensures that we place the same amount of attention on the mind as we do on the body.
With all this bubbling away in the background, we realised that OSF would be able to reach a greater number of people in a more effective manner if we became a Community Interest Community. So, we did. As of 16th April 2020, we became a non-profit, social enterprise group, priding ourselves on supporting every individual in becoming the best version of themselves.
Hello, my name is Steph. In 2012, I was a Game Maker for the London Olympics. I became OBSESSED with the Paralympics. I vividly remember watching my first event: the men's Canada vs England wheelchair basketball. When the first collision occurred, my friend and I were speechless, filled with awkwardness, we looked on with absolute sympathy for this poor person who would surely be absolutely mortified but...oh...wait a minute, he had literally bounced back in his chair and nobody (other than us) had battered an eyelid. In that moment, for me, the stereotype of the wheelchair user was shattered.
The Channel 4 Superhuman campaign cemented my complete awe in which I viewed parathletes. Research undertaken by Channel 4 showed that 82% of UK adults believed the Paralympics were important for improving society's perceptions of disABLED people. The research also showed that more than 90% of people who saw the adverts said it was a positive portrayal of disABILITY. More than 80% of people who saw the ad felt it showed disABILITY in a new light (with this figure increasing to nearly 90% for people with disABILITIES who took part in the survey).
The 2012 Paralympics and the Superhumans campaign created a legacy. Eight years later, I am now able to pick back up that mantle: championing diversity, innovation, new talent, and celebrating the amazing abilities of both Paralympians and everyday people.
OSF is a successful gym. We have more members than we ever envisioned. But now we need to step up.
- One in three disABLED people said that there is a lot of prejudice against disABLED people in Britain.
- Four in five disABLED people would like to be more active.
- DisABLED adults are twice as likely as non-disABLED adults to be physically inactive.
- Only 14% of non-disABLED people have exercised alongside disABLED people. Yet, 73% said they would love the chance to do so.
- In 2015, 53% of people thought that, as a disABLED person, there were more barriers to making and keeping friends. This rose to more than three quarters (77%) for young disABLED people aged 18-34.
Now is the time to breakdown boundaries.
Old School Fitness: Inclusive. Inspiring. Empowering.
There are only five inclusive gyms accredited by the Inclusive Fitness Initiative in the West Midlands: we are ready to become the sixth.
We are in the process of applying for a variety of funding options, but the paperwork is mammoth. During the coronavirus lockdown, several our instructors have additional time on their hands, and it seems imprudent not to use this period of isolation wisely.
A successful crowdfunding will ensure that we can make a start on our goal somewhat immediately. The money raised will go straight towards professional development. For if OSF staff are not appropriately trained in working with amputees and wheelchair users, then nothing else can happen.
Therefore, your crowdfunding money will be split into the following:
- Delivering an Excellent Service for Disabled Customers: eLearning (£10 per person) x 20
- Inclusive Activity Programme (£20 per person) x 10
- Level 3 Exercise for Disabled Clients (£375) x 4
- Accessible Yoga (£425) x 2
- Leadership in Running Fitness (£170) x 2
- Coach in Running Fitness (£350) x 2
- IAFPD Primary Certificate in Health & Wellbeing Cognitive Behavioural Coaching (£345) x 1
- IAFPD Primary Certificate in Developing Psychological Resilience (£345) x 1
- Chair-Based Exercise Instructor Course (£253) x 1
If you have read this far, thank you!
Just to recap:
1) As a CIC, our first pledge is to overcome the social barriers that people with disABILITIES encounter, allowing them to be more active.
2) Old School Fitness CIC will be a platform for inclusive, inspiring, and empowering imagery of disABILITY.
3) Increasing the spotlight on parathletes will become part of our mainstream culture and, every day, both disABLED and non-disABLED people will exercise, socialise, and inspire each other to be the best version of themselves.