Runners & Rounders in Aberdare
The Michael Sobell Sports Centre in Aberdare has launched a scheme to set local women and girls on the road to a fitter future.
Centre staff saw the potential of burning off those extra pounds last Christmas and established a new initiative for women – the "Mile High Running Club".
With the Nos Galan road race coming up on New Year’s Eve 2005, 30 members trained for the event held in Mountain Ash.
But the scheme had the legs to go further than the usual Christmas fad, and with New Year’s resolutions swelling the member base to a healthy 100, the club has kept on track ever since.
Women of all fitness levels now regularly take part in three weekly training sessions, with sessions spilt for ability and pace.
Runner Carolyn Lewis says: "I could barely run a mile. Now I can run five! It’s made me realise the importance of exercise on my health."
The club’s growth has spurred centre staff to experiment with other activities. Steered by the buzzwords ‘sociable’ and ‘fun’, members opted to set up the Sobells Rounders League.
The centre approached the Sports Council to help with a four-week taster training session. A Community Chest grant funded the initiative and met the pitch and training costs.
And the centre’s plans don’t end there. Taster triathlons for men and women are set to replace the end of the rounders season, with full tuition and training support for beginners.
Activity organiser Emma Morgan says: "The great thing about the sessions is that they attract women and girls who don’t participate in fitness activities. We’ve managed to keep numbers high by making activities enjoyable, accessible and non-competitive.
"For these women, it’s their first step to becoming more active. Their first step to a healthier lifestyle."