Creating an online community
How can you possibly create a community or feel a sense of connection when you can only see people online? That’s the question we asked ourselves and felt very dubious about how we could recreate the fun, friendship and social connection of our face-to-face classes when we launched the Move it or Lose it Club.
This question, along with many others, were part of the evaluation we completed over four months and have been amazed at the responses we had from our Club members.
In line with the Tackling Inequalities Fund (TIF) objectives we wanted to help older people and those with long term health conditions to continue to be active, whilst isolated, at home. But we wanted the Club to do more than just keep people moving. Our aims were:
- To aid the prevention of deconditioning (loss of muscle and function)
- To increase activity levels and reduce sedentary time
- To reduce perceptions of loneliness
- To engender a sense of community among Club members
We asked why people had joined the Club and their motivations included:
“Help with finding the right exercise regime”.
“Help me get fitter as no physio after op due to lockdown”.
“It encourages me to move, as I cannot get out on my own”.
“I need more motivation”.
“Had so much fun and benefit from attending the Swaffham sessions but am now unable to get there”.
“Hoping to Keep Fit as much as possible – not swimming at the moment due to Covid”.
“I lost my husband two years ago while I was very ill. Now with the pandemic and very very lonely and housebound”.
“I hope it will give me the incentive to do exercises more often in my own home and it would be lovely to take part in socialising (at a distance)”.
After 3 months the follow up evaluation showed that 95% of Club members do the exercise routines at least once a week and 67% said they felt more confident to be active at home.
We were so pleased to also see how the Club has helped people to feel less lonely and has created a real sense of community too. Chatting in the Social Club, posting photos of pets, pancakes or the weather where they live, sharing ideas and hobbies, joining in the quizzes, all help people to feel less alone.
Many Club members have said it’s given them a purpose as they look forward to joining the daily live sessions – as if they were going to a ‘real’ class. Many have said it’s a “lifesaver” and even that they now “look forward to exercising for the first time in my life!”
And although the Club is 94% female, the men who have joined say it’s excellent. Roger aged 73 said “I would never have joined a group exercise class but now I can join in at home and no one can see me, so I don’t feel embarrassed. I’d really recommend it to other men to give it a go.”
And if you’d like to join our Club, you can get a month free by using this code BLOG. To sign up, go to www.moveitorloseitclub.co.uk