Playground games offer a nostalgic way to get fit

Joel Ryder plays tag with Amber Leibbrandt
Joel Ryder plays tag with Amber Leibbrandt

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Armed with sponge balls, coloured cones and plenty of childhood memories, Joel Ryder is trying to get people fit – old school-style.

The fitness trainer has been running a new type of exercise class since January and says it’s taken off with those who like their exercise to feature plenty of nostalgia.

Each hour-long session involves playing PE and playground games such as tag and dodgeball.

And following the success of the weekly class, Joel now hopes to roll out the Don’t Forget Your Plimsolls format further, taking on the might of current fitness crazes like Zumba.

‘There’s no-one else in the UK doing anything similar at the moment,’ says Joel.

‘I strapped a couple of heart monitors on to some people taking part recently and they burned around 500 calories. That shows that it works, it’s an effective class.’

As well as a warm-up, cool-down and stretching exercises, the group plays around five or six games per session.

There’s lots of running around, plenty of laughter and team games encourage everyone to work together.

‘I saw a gap in the market,’ explains Joel, who works at the University of Portsmouth’s sport and recreation department.

‘There were a lot of people who weren’t exercising because gyms can be intimidating and fitness classes can be very traditional.

‘I thought there would be a niche for a class where the emphasis was on having fun.

‘I looked at some traditional PE and school playground games that everyone knows from when they were younger.

‘You’re running around for an hour and don’t even think about what you are doing.’

No-one will be picked last, opting out of a game is allowed and anyone who was rubbish at PE as a child needn’t worry.

‘The games are designed so that if you don’t want to do lots of running around, you can still be part of a team,’ explains Joel.

‘You don’t have to be particularly fit. It’s aimed at people who are looking to get back into exercise and open to everyone.

‘I’ve got about 17 games and each week we play around five or six. I’m open to suggestions – but not kiss-chase.’

The class takes place from 7pm until 8pm at Eastney Community Centre in Bransbury Park, Portsmouth, on Tuesdays and costs £3.50 per session.

n For more information turn up to a session or log on to dontforgetyourplimsolls.co.uk