You know that amazing smugness you get after a sweaty workout? And that self-satisfied feeling when you help a struggling mum take a pram up the stairs in the Tube?

Well, you can feel both simultaneously at GoodGym, a not-for-profit company offering one of the most meaningful ways to exercise in London.

“Many of us waste all of our energy working out in small rooms on machines,” GoodGym founder Ivo Gormley says. “I wanted to find a way to use that energy for more, by doing something good.”

Gormley’s venture has grown to 600 members in three years. Each week, up to 40 meet in east London and run to help on a community project. Distances differ depending on the project. “Tonight we’re going to help an elderly man in Bow,” Gormley says.

“There will be about 20 minutes of running to and from his house, and we’ll spend about an hour helping him with his house and garden.”

So far, GoodGym has four meeting points around east London, but people in other areas can also get involved. If you’re
looking for a serious workout, you can go on a ‘mission’, which starts from your house and goes directly to the project.

“We’re very inclusive,” Gormley says. “The distance of our runs changes to suit different levels, but no one gets left behind.”

At the destination, runners do everything from clearing rubble from community areas to moving library books or helping the disabled people in their homes.

“People can refer jobs to us on our website, and we’re also in contact with the NHS, pharmacists, occupational therapists and community centres, who also refer projects,” Gormley says.

“Is it fun, you get to meet other people in the community and you get a kick out of helping people.”

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Other Do-Gooder Way To Keep Fit


This clever scheme puts volunteers in touch with companies who can offer them experience.

Get sporty by choosing to learn martial arts for free in exchange for assisting on a PR and marketing team.

Alternatively, volunteer to run StreetGames with your community and you’ll get the chance to gain various qualifications along the way. 


With Do-it, you can sign up for sports and recreation volunteering online in your area at the click of a button.

There’s a varied programme of fitness activities, from helping at sports classes for disabled people and at conservation action days, to sea cadets groups, football coaching for kids and cycle deliveries for organic food companies.  

Back To Life,

Offer emotional support through a new activity, hobby or sport with this project based in south London. Volunteers at Back
To Life mentor young men and women between 18-25 with mental health issues.

These individuals are often socially excluded or at risk of suicide. Doing what seems like a simple sporting activity could help build confidence, keep them (and you) fit, plus be rewarding.


Photo: Thinkstock,