Autumn news: online & outdoor sessions

Hi all!

Well, the last six months certainly have been interesting! Thank you to everyone who filled out the survey that we sent out, it was fantastic to hear such great feedback about how the livestreams had helped people during those initial days of lockdown. We’ve just had our AGM and confirmed that the best way to proceed through the autumn and winter is to stay focused on providing our weekday sessions as online livestreams (with catch up recordings). If you’re new to us and aren’t sure of what that is – the TLDR is that we do 4 weekly sessions online for £15 per month. Read more about them here.

That same feedback along with discussions within the co-op membership also highlighted how much people missed having in person sessions, even though everyone was aware that at the moment those in person sessions can’t be done in the same way as we used to (at least for now!). We’ve all had our thinking caps on and we’re excited to announce that we’ll be trialling a series of outdoor sessions in October.

These outdoor sessions will be held at the weekends, and we’re trying out a variety of times for them. The first two have been booked in and will be coached by Guy at 10am on Sunday 4th October and 4pm on Sunday 11th October. They are available for free to any co-op members or monthly subscribers (as these are trial outdoor sessions we’re also making them available to subscribers of the “Qwop” Online Only level). The sessions will be available for booking a week in advance of each session, just check the normal teamup booking calendar.

First up – Guy’s World Sports Club! Sunday 4th October at 10am – available to book now!

“Come and play lesser-known sports and games from around the world – extinct sports, traditional and indigenous sports, new inventions… We will learn about the origin of two sports each session and then have a go at them. New sports every session means we’re all beginners and the focus can be on fun and fitness over winning.

All sports will be socially-distant but may involve some shared equipment which will be cleaned between use. Hand sanitiser will be provided but bring your own too.”

As these are trial sessions – please use our feedback form after the session, we’d really like to hear from attendees how things might be adjusted/improved or simply that we’re amazing and we nailed it 🙂

We’re really looking forward to seeing everyone again, and so will sign off with some fun health and safety info!


Health & Safety Info

  1. Please assume that any person attending the class may be at a higher risk than you, and always err on the side of caution.
  2. If you feel like you are suffering from any coronavirus symptoms before the session, cancel your registration and do not attend the class even though it is outdoorsNHS Coronavirus Symptoms Info.
  3. We have capped the class size at 12, please do not mix before, during or after the class.
  4. Outdoor sessions will be socially distanced, but may use some shared equipment which will be cleaned between use. The session coach will be responsible for the cleaning of the equipment, or instructions in how to clean (and therefore will monitor that this is done correctly).
  5. Please arrive promptly for the session as the coach will go over all health & safety guidance around social distancing during the class, and the use of any equipment. If you arrive after this has been done you may not be able to take part in the session.
  6. Please bring your face-mask for before and after the session, and antibacterial hand gel.
  7. Read the BCG Coronavirus Risk Assessment in full here



Our Response to the All Hallows Hall Planning Application

If you would like to comment on the application, please click here. The deadline is Monday 3rd August.

Bristol Co-operative Gym is the first cooperatively-run gym in the country. We aim to provide a supportive, inclusive exercise environment where members of the local community can improve their health and fitness.

Since September 2016 we have used All Hallows Hall for our classes on three evenings a week, as well as for numerous weekend workshops. In this time we have welcomed more than 900 members of the local community to train with us. Our unique model means that we are run by those same members – currently a team of 19, 17 of whom live within the BS5 postcode. There are very few gyms in Lawrence Hill, and none in the country that have our model and would meet the needs of our members. We have serious concerns about the proposed development’s impact on our ability to provide this essential service to our community.

Bristol Local Plan Policy DM5 states that “proposals involving the loss of community facilities will not be permitted unless it can be demonstrated that, inter alia, the community facility can be fully retained, enhanced or reinstated as part of any redevelopment of the building or land.” Bristol Development Framework Core Strategy states that, “Existing community facilities should be retained, unless it can be demonstrated that there is no longer a need to retain the use or where alternative provision is made.” Although the community facility has not been removed as such, and there is no application for change of use, we believe that the proposed changes would seriously jeopardize the viability of the hall as a community facility for the reasons given below.

There is existing design guidance that for even the smallest hall or community centre there should be: main activity and assembly space; entrance foyer; equipment and furniture store; kitchen; toilets, including facilities for disabled people; changing provision; cleaner’s store; boiler or plant room.

Loss of Storage

In order for current uses to be maintained, there must be provision for storage of equipment and for furniture; currently the hall is used for a wide variety of art and sport forms (from trapeze to table tennis to weight lifting and anything in between). 

We store our barbells, kettlebells, weight plates etc. in what is proposed to be the “Female WC”. It may be possible that the equipment is planned to be stored upstairs but its combined weight of hundreds of kilograms would make this impractical and dangerous. Without appropriate storage, we wouldn’t be able to run our classes.

The same is true of the Ping Pong Parlour’s table tennis tables currently stored in the area proposed to be the “Male WC” and the Hoop Jam’s circus equipment currently in the “Disabled Toilet”.

Cycle parking

The majority of our users travel to our sessions via bicycle. The proposed amount of cycle parking is insufficient for our members’ needs – especially if this is to be shared with the residents of the flats – and access seems poorly thought-through.

Toilets and changing facilities

In the proposal, the facilities for toilets are minimal and poorly designed. Having gendered toilets is in conflict with our ethos of being inclusive and open to people of all gender identities.

The proposed accessible toilet doesn’t appear to meet Changing Places’ standards.

There is no provision of changing facilities, which is necessary to support and sustain use for both physical exercise and the arts. Again, the current toilet area meets this requirement.

Loss of the yard

In good weather, we can currently train in the yard. The option of training outside is even more important during the coronavirus restrictions. Under the current guidance, our indoor classes would be limited to six people rather than our usual sixteen, which has an enormous impact on our pricing and business model. In the yard we can have sixteen people and keep our prices the same while still having access to the nearby indoor storage of our heavy equipment. This would not be possible in a park or equivalent outdoor space.

Additionally, during indoor classes we often have the back and side doors open and use that and a fan to provide a through-flow of air during our sessions. This is even more important given the current government guidance of extra ventilation due to the coronavirus. The current position of the door will mean it obstructs the entrance to the flats when open and also potentially compromise our members’ privacy while training.

The loss of a second public exit to the hall also prevents us from meeting the coronavirus guidance of using a one-way system with one door for entering and one for exiting.

Access requirements

Although the argument that the proximity to train station and bus routes would mean that car parking for the flats is not necessary, there has been no thought about access by car for disabled users of the space, which at present is made possible by the side door to the courtyard with Baggator, to which access is possible if needed.

Other facilities missing

Provision for cleaning (e.g. cleaner’s cupboard) and of heating technologies have not been made.

Removal of the stage

We are concerned about the impact that the removal of the stage would have on the theatre groups and stage shows that use this rare resource at various times throughout the year. There are very few community venues in Bristol, let alone in the Easton / Lawrence Hill area, that have a stage setup. The loss of the stage appears to be being justified as necessary for the upkeep of the building but there doesn’t appear to be any economic justification of this or analysis of what the loss of the stage would mean for use of the facility.

Effect on Joint Work with Baggator

We are concerned by the lack of consideration given to our neighbour, Baggator Young People’s Project, and for the threat of the development to the relationship between Baggator and All Hallows Hall.

The flexibility for community use that has long been possible through the joint access to space and co-operation with Baggator has led to vital work that supports not just the wellbeing but also the essential needs of residents of Lawrence Hill, one of the poorest wards in the city.

Lack of proper consultation

We were not contacted to assess the impact of this proposal on our use of All Hallows Hall. As can be seen by their comments and objections, neither were the other community groups which use it and Baggator. Any development that had serious concern for preserving the community use of the hall would surely have consulted its users.


We are proud to be a part of the rich tapestry of community activity that All Hallows Hall provides. The proposed developments undermine the viability of our unique co-operative gym and of the community space in general in the name of producing four small units of accommodation. This development would have a negative impact that is far greater than is immediately evident.

We’re back! Online classes start this week! 🌼

Hello everyone,

We think we’ve found the best way for us to move our classes online. After considering a bunch of options, we think we’ve got a format that meets our requirements of:

  • Getting live follow-along classes to you in a way that’s easy to access
  • Integrating with our usual booking system and Move GB
  • Being reasonably priced
  • Including new class types rather than repeating sessions
  • Recording and archiving all our live classes so you can do them whenever you’d like
  • Keeping us connected and able to chat between sessions

It’s taken a little longer than we expected to adapt to all these changes but we are ready to start again on Monday!!!!! 🌱🌱🌱🌱

New online classes four evenings a week

Strength Training A-Z
18:00-19:00 on Mondays

Guy coaches you through an effective whole-body workout requiring no equipment. The programming is periodised in month-long blocks so you can maintain or even develop your strength during at home, and each week the sessions are alphabetically themed around a different aspect of the history of training. We’ll start with Akharas and see how far we get…
(Similar to our Strength Circuit classes)

Low-Impact Strength Training Online
19:00-20:00 on Tuesdays

Isidora adapts our usual Low-Impact Strength Training class to a home setting, leading you through a series of gently-challenging bodyweight exercises to develop mobility and strength.
(Similar to our Low-Impact Strength Training classes)

HIIT From Home
19:00-20:00 on Wednesdays

Develop your fitness through short bursts of activities mixed with periods of rest. The exercises Guy programs use minimal space and no equipment, so you can follow along wherever you are.
(Similar to our Functional HIIT classes)

Stretch and Relax
18:00-19:00 on Thursdays

Isidora leads us in a sequence of calming movements aimed at restoring mobility and reducing stress at this challenging time. Using breath and working towards passive and active flexibility, we will relax into new ranges of motion.
(A new class!)

You can book onto the classes in all our usual ways – pay-as-you-go, with a subscription, or via Move GB.

Book the classes through TeamUp

Or find them on MoveGB

We will be using Zoom to stream our classes. Once booked on, you will be sent a link shortly before the class starts to join the scheduled call. The coach will go online 10 minutes before the session starts, to welcome you in and make sure everything’s working okay, and then the class will begin as normal at the start time.

It feels a bit odd initially but it’s surprising how quickly you get used to it, and then it’s good fun. We’re really looking forward to training with you again.

None of the classes require any equipment, though you might want something soft to lie on.

All of the live classes will be recorded and then uploaded so you can watch them at times that suit you better or repeat sessions in the week to construct your own training schedule.

A new £15 membership

We have added a cheaper subscription option – Qwop, named after the eponymous runner in this ridiculous athletics game – but you can book onto classes and access the archive with any of the usual subscriptions too. We have left our previous subscriptions up as “solidarity options” because some of you have very kindly said you’ll stay on your current sub to pay a little extra in support 🥰

Video archive and discussion forum

We have created a Slack Workspace with Channels for each of the classes. Links to the recorded sessions will be posted, and you can ask questions and discuss the sessions in the feeds below. Our coaches and co-op members will be active on there, so we can hopefully provide answers, iron out any technical hitches, and keep each other company at this strange time.

The link will be sent to all co-op members and subscribers, and posted in the livestream chat for all attendees. You’ll be automatically added to the most important channels but can add or remove yourself from whichever you’d like to engage as much or as little as you’d like.

At the end of the week, we’ll also e-mail out the previous week’s videos to all co-op members and those with active subscriptions.

Workout mixtape exchange

We hope we can use Slack in other ways too. For example, in the spirit of pre-Internet approaches to staying in touch with people you can’t see IRL, and in keeping with our shared Spotify playlists, we thought we could set up a Workout Mixtape Exchange!

In our Slack, there’s a #mixtape-exchange channel (linked from the #staying-connected channel) which you can join and post your playlist and a description of the tracks. Guy’s posted his to get things started – have a listen and slate his music taste, and then post your own! If you don’t use Spotify, just post a tracklist and then we can turn that into a playlist and link to it.

Lawn Bowls workshop is cancelled

Sadly, all this means we’ve got to cancel the Introduction to Lawn Bowls workshop, of course. We were looking forward to it and will aim to re-schedule when this has passed.

Online workshops

Related to that, we thought it would still be possible to host some workshops online instead. Let us know if there are any topics you’d like to explore and we’ll try to work something out!

Okay, that’s everything. Thanks so much for your patience. We’re really looking forward to starting training with you again this week!

Suspending Sessions

Hello again…

Things really are moving fast… A few hours after we sent out yesterday’s update about our session plans in response to the C19 outbreak, the government guidance changed to recommend that everyone minimise social contact as much as possible.

As a members-first health and wellness community business, this is obviously something we are taking very seriously. With all that in mind we have decided to suspend our group classes for the time being.

We do, however, intend to support you to stay fit and healthy, physically and mentally, at this unusual time. Here’s how:

Multiple Weekly Training Videos 

Each week, Isidora and Guy will provide a strength training and HIIT session for you to do at home with no equipment, so you’ll have four options for training each week. 

We might even do these as online live broadcasts so it can feel more social… We’re working on the exact form – let us know if you have any suggestions.

A New, Online-Only Subscription

The online sessions will be available to all co-op members and people who pay monthly subscriptions. We will set up a new subscription level that reflects the changing costs of providing session content online instead of at a venue. The exact price for this is being decided and we’ll have it in place by next week.

Because of the way we are paid through Move GB and other pay-as-you-go attendees, we can’t offer the online sessions directly to you. We invite you instead to join the new online-only subscription or to choose one of the co-operative membership options.

Whether you change to the new subs level is entirely up to you. This is going to be a tough period for the gym and we obviously appreciate any financial support to help us make it out the other side, but we are also aware that you may be dramatically affected yourself and don’t want that to restrict you from staying active in the coming weeks / months. 

We haven’t made any changes to your existing subscription or membership because we want to leave that decision up to you and some people have already kindly e-mailed to say they will be continuing their usual payments despite the change in service. Whatever you choose to do, you can manage your subscription through your TeamUp profile.

If you choose to cancel your subscription and would like a refund for the rest of the month, please get in touch.

Online Community

We are setting up a Slack workspace as a place to ask questions about the videos as they come out, and to generally support each other in staying active, healthy and not too bored…

Slack is a cross-platform instant messaging service (that also does lots of other things). You can access it through your browser or an app on your phone. If you haven’t used it before, there are tons of tutorial videos on YouTube and quite a bit of guidance within the app.

We will send out a separate invitation to everyone with subscriptions / memberships once everything is ready.

Other Options

We are open to new and inventive ways of providing sessions and support – do reply if you have any thoughts or suggestions about anything else we can be doing.

2020 Co-operative Memberships

This is not related to the virus but we need to e-mail round to announce that co-operative memberships for 2020 are now available.

You may remember that at the start of the year we announced our “bridging” memberships from January – March 2020 so that we could align membership dates with our financial year. We’re now ready to offer the full-year membership, which is on a sliding scale of £10-£50. You can buy these through TeamUp or via the Membership page on our website.



Take care. We’ll miss you! It’s a real shame not to get to meet up and train together, especially at such a stressful time, but this seems like the best thing to do. Do join us online for workouts and related distractions.

See you there!


Help us hunt for a home!

Exciting times! We’re on the hunt for a venue and we’re hoping you can help us. For several years we’ve been holding our sessions at All Hallows Hall, and we’re now at the stage where we need more session slots, more space, and more versatility to allow BCG to grow into something really special.

So now we’re on the lookout! We’re putting in lots of leg work and scouring the classifieds to see what’s out there, but we’d really appreciate it if you could also help us by spreading the word, asking your friends and contacts, and even maybe keeping an eye out for potential buildings that we might be interested in.

Our needs are fairly simple, but it might be a long search before we find somewhere suitable. We’re keeping the search area within a mile (or two at a push) of our base in Easton, and ideally we’d like a venue with two rooms, but if it’s one large open space that we can partition we can work with that.

Some of our requirements:

  • Sole tenants of the space
  • A large room that’s a minimum of 40 ft by 50 ft (12m x 15m)
  • Total floor space – minimum of 800 sq ft (74m2) up to 1600 sq ft (149m2)
  • Ground floor
  • Wheelchair accessible – or relatively straightforward to make accessible
  • Toilets
  • Heating
  • Public transport links

We’re happy to look at lots of options, we’re not necessarily looking for traditional gym space, so keep an open mind!

A map of East Bristol showing a circle at 1 mile radius, and another at a 2 mile radius
Our search area

If you have any leads – please send them to our main email –

Bristol Co-operative Gym is the first cooperatively run gym in the UK and have been running inclusive strength and fitness classes at All Hallows Hall since 2016, you can read more about our aims and objectives here, and find out about our current classes here.

Big Winter Update – Closing Dates, Socials, T-shirts, Workshops and more!

The end of the year is fast approaching and it’s strange to think that we are already in the second week of our final five-week block of 2019. There are a few things we wanted to let you know about.

Dates of Closure Over the New Year

We will have our last session of the year on Thursday 19th December and will re-open on Monday 6th January.

Have a fantastic break!

Winter Socials

To celebrate a fantastic year, we’d love you to join us for two activities:

  • A drink after training at The Plough on Wednesday 18th December, from 19:00/20:00 onwards. Monday and Thursday folks, please do come and join us!
  • A wintery walk from All Hallows at 11:00 on Saturday 21st December. We’ll go up to Greenbank Cemetery / Eastville Park and end up somewhere for lunch, if anyone would like to stay for that.

Change of LIST Class Timing

Monday’s Low-Intensity Strength Training class will now run from 19:00-20:00 rather than 19:15-20:15, starting this coming week (Monday 2nd December).


Our first t-shirt

YES, we are taking pre-orders for our first-ever, limited run of BCG shirts!!

The design, by Guy, shows two hands raised in celebration with letters spelling the name of our gym scattered above.

Printed in white water-based ink on high-quality black 100% organic cotton Stanley Stella shirts by the mighty eco-friendly printers I Dress Myself in Frome, the shirts and all production processes are vegan, non-toxic, fair-labour, carbon-neutral, and done with minimal use of plastic.

They come in a non-gendered fit and a wide range of sizes. A good way to get the right size is to measure a t-shirt you know you like the fit of.

Orders will close on the evening of Sunday 1st December, and we won’t be printing any more after that. We should have delivery of the shirts by w/c 16th December and they will be ready to be collect from sessions in that last week before we close for the winter break.

We aren’t offering postage so if you live elsewhere it’s probably best to contact a Bristol-based friend and ask them to get yours.

You can place orders the same way you book sessions through TeamUp – just click on Store. Or go here.

Our Coaches’ Other Classes and Workshops

Both Isidora and Guy offer classes and workshops outside of the gym. Here’s what’s coming up:

  • Isidora’s weekly Animal Movement class at Hamilton House on Saturdays, 12:15-13:15, gives the opportunity to practice the sorts of mobility and strength training she introduced to us in her workshop earlier in the year. Weightlifting, body-weight, strength and mobility training are combined with a holistic approach that starts from the breath’s awareness and reaches the ‘false’ movement patterns we establish with our everyday mentality, choices and emotions. It is the only class of its sort in Bristol. You can book through Move GB or by getting in touch with her directly.
  • Guy has two workshops coming up on Sunday 8th December and Sunday 26th January titled ‘New Year, New Fitness Culture‘. Designed as an antithesis to the January body-shaming fitness frenzy, come and learn how to dismantle the assumptions and practices of the fitness industry and then build your own unique, super-effective exercise practice in their place. Find out more and book on through his website.

Training and Your Pelvic Floor

Last year we hosted a Pelvic Floor Health Café with Helen Hodder, a physiotherapist specialising in pelvic floor function. Below is a write-up of the notes our coach Guy made during the workshop.

What are the pelvic floor muscles?

The pelvic floor muscles form a sort of “trampoline” at the base of your pelvis, stretching between your tailbone (at the back), pubic bone (at the front), and sit bones (the sides):

What do they do?

It’s important to think of the pelvic floor muscles as being multifunctional. They don’t just hold everything in. As with any other muscle, it is just as important that they are able to relax as contract.


  1. Control the pelvic openings (anus, vagina, urethra) and help prevent incontinence
  2. Support all the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, vagina, prostate, small and large intestine) and help to prevent prolapse
  3. Help with sexual arousal and sexual function
  4. Help stabilise the joints in your pelvis

Pelvic floor dysfunction can affect people of all genders and stages of life, though pregnancy and birth present particularly gnarly challenges to the pelvic floor.

Read more…

Co-operative Memberships Now Available For 2019!

We are proud to be the first co-operative gym in the UK. We believe that our not-for-profit multi-stakeholder co-operative model (meaning coaches and gym users work together to create a space that improves their health and wellbeing) has so much potential for working against the cynical business practices of big gyms, and for getting more people enjoying their strength and fitness, and feeling better.

Read more…

Our Story So Far

Our coach Guy was invited to speak at the Bristol Radical Herbal Gathering on the theme of collective approaches to wellbeing, alongside excellent Bristol projects like Countering Colston, ACORN and Kiki.

It was a good chance to lay out the reasons for setting up the gym and why we feel there is a need for a co-operative model within the fitness industry. The full text is below.

Read more…

Going to a Normal Gym as Someone Who Has Never Gone to the Gym Before

Our member Steph shares her experience of going to a “normal gym” after attending our Strength Circuit sessions. Thank you, Steph!

Never would I have imagined that I would willingly, and with enjoyment, be going to a local gym before joining the co-operative gym! I think that is such an amazing thing. Everything you get from going to the co-op gym is so transferable – it’s a gateway to all sorts of things you could do with your body that you didn’t know yet.

I think the main barrier I had about going to the gym regularly by myself was a lack of knowledge and motivation. Going to regular gyms often means (though not necessarily) trying to ignore certain elements of macho bullshit which a gym space seems to fuel. Going to the co-op gym means that you learn technique in a really nice, supportive and unpatronising way. Also, the sharing and teaching of your fellow lifters means that you learn certain cues like ‘spread your toes’ even better. And knowledge equals power! I kind of imagine this a little bit like becoming my own coach – though it’s good to check with others on technique!

The kind of coaches you might come across regularly can seem intimidating… There is a whole load of language to learn. There are people who spew it at you like you’re an idiot for not knowing. There are people who actually use “come on you girl” as an insult. Trying to deadlift after hearing that is hard! Trying to ignore the screaming in your head is hard! I don’t want my gym session to instead turn into righting the wrongs of gross people. I want to lift!

What I am practicing at the moment is overcoming that and concentrating on what I would like to learn and get better at, and I am enjoying practicing this before starting work in the morning. This is where knowing the technique comes in. Knowing what to focus on simply means you focus on it. Learning the technique means you know what you alone are doing, and you can get on with it. Nevermind that you are the only woman in the room, nevermind that – omg why are they counting out loud, you are throwing me off pal! But then there are nice things, like noticing other little exercises people are doing, or noticing when someone is on the same ‘push’ and ‘deadlift’ day as you!

A little trick I have when walking into the weight room, maybe a little intimidated trying to find a spot in a busy room, is to put my shoulders back and pretend I am a man and deserve to take up space. But politely! Hey, if going to the gym teaches you anything it’s where to put your shoulders, so you might as well use it.

I guess what I am really trying to say is that knowing how to do stuff is empowering and so is feeling strong, so hurrah to the co-op gym for giving us that!