27 Aug 2008

Bollywood fever has hit Swansea since it was introduced in April thanks to a National Lottery cash investment worth £1,000 from the Sports Council for Wales.

Swansea’s Shakila Ahmed was awarded the grant to start weekly women only Bollywood Aerobics classes in the area, which has now doubled due to popular demand.

Mother-of-three Shakila Ahmed explains, "The funds from the Sports Council have helped to pay for equipment and music – which is very important. The class is aimed at everyone in the community, not just those from ethnic backgrounds."

What started as a weekly session at St Helens Primary School in Sandfields will now see another class being introduced at St Hilary’s Church in Killay from October onwards.

"My class is primarily aerobics fused together with Bollywood, Bhangra and Indi-Hop moves, which has proved extremely popular with local women. The session has not only increased their general fitness but has also brought together different communities to have fun and exercise together," Ahmed adds.

The music is a funky fusion of Rap, Hip Hop, R&B, energetic Bhangra from northern India and of course remixes from the Bollywood film industry.

Around 20 people on average attend the weekly sessions at St Helens Primary School and the class is geared towards increasing overall cardio vascular fitness, toning exercises to increase muscular strength and endurance as well as flexibility and stretching.

If you have an idea that could get more people, more active more often – you may even be in line for a cash grant from the Sports Council for Wales.

Projects up and down the country have been reaping the rewards of the Community Chest scheme since 1999.

As a result of the popularity and undoubted success of the scheme, the Sports Council for Wales is raising the level of grant. Organisations keen to develop sport & physical activity in Wales can now receive up to £1000 for a qualifying project over a 12 month period.

The scope of the scheme has also been widened. Grants have traditionally been awarded to sports clubs and sporting bodies. Now most organisations seeking to develop physical activity and sporting projects will be eligible for an award.

The Community Chest has recently been infiltrating additional areas of work such as the voluntary sector (e.g. Voluntary Youth Clubs, Women’s Institute) and the workplace, as well as continuing to support projects in the health and education arenas. So while funding the local football club might get the younger members of the community moving, backing a walking group will encourage more adults to get active.

Chair of the Sports Council for Wales, Philip Carling, said:

"Community Chest has been and continues to be a huge success and is very popular throughout Swansea. The increase in funding and the greater scope of the scheme will increase its effectiveness.

"Panels based in each of the 22 local authorities in Wales hold the purse strings and have delegated authority to award grants to worthwhile projects. We want to hear of bright ideas and projects that will get more people in Swansea more active, more often."