GoodGym runners help relocate the Hackney Pirates

Good Gym runners from Hackney help out at Mabley Green

Good Gym runners from Hackney help out at Mabley Green - Credit: Archant

An innovative keep fit group - which combines exercise with doing something good in the community - has focused its efforts on helping out gardeners at Mabley Green and setting up the Hackney Pirates new premises.

GoodGym was conceived five years ago to make sure running to keep fit is not a wasted opportunity, while the charitable element offers motivation for struggling runners.

There are now groups in Hackney, as well as Camden, Tower Hamlets, Lambeth, Liverpool and Bristol.

Last week 25 runners from Hackney’s branch met at London Fields and jogged the 1.5 miles to Mabley Green which borders Homerton Road.

They then spent 45 minutes lugging bags of mulch from where it was dumped to the 150 saplings located 700m away, which need it for protection from the elements, before making the 1.5 mile job back to their starting point.

Damian Rafferty, chair of the Mabley Green Users Group (MGUG), who enlisted their services said: “Pretty much every one of those trees will make it, with that mulch nothing should stop them from growing up - when you think of how many trees just never make it, GoodGym was instrumental in that.”

On Tuesday February 18 the group are planning on returning to finish off the job.

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Meanwhile the previous week, 25 people ran 8km to clear out furniture for Hackney Pirates to be able to move to a new premises in Kingsland Road.

Volunteers at the charity provide supplementary educational support to young people who are at a crucial age in the transition to secondary school.

It was James French’s third run with GoodGym and he’s getting “all the more hooked” thanks to the different tasks.

“The variation, for me, makes it all the more interesting and exciting to see who might need the help of the GoodGym next,” he said.

“There were more new faces to meet and greet this week which was nice to see and socialising on the run is great fun - if not an intense part of the workout - and not to mention a way to take your mind off the slog of the jog if it’s not your prefered kind of exercise.

“There was no mutiny, rum swilling or walking the plank on this adventure with the Hackney Pirates - just two compassionate community projects coming together for those that want to get fit and those that need some support for learning.”

A second team had been helping an elderly lady with her garden too that night.

“Apparently she was gleefully waving them goodbye with her smile of satisfaction at the end of their efforts,” he said.

“There are many ways to help in people’s lives and getting a taste of how it can be done through GoodGym is inspiring.”

For anyone who prefers to volunteer alone, a “mission” can be set which will see them sent off on a one-off jobs, like picking something up for an older person.

Good Gym also works in conjunction with the NHS and local community centres to pair up volunteers with isolated older people who become “running coaches”.

Runners are encouraged to take a newspaper or modest gift to their “coach” who in return offers motivational advice.

Good Gym members meet at Coffee Is My Cup of Tea in Mentmore Terrace, London Fields, every Tuesday and will help out the Hackney Pirates again tonight.

To register to take part email