Venue Hunt Update – Netham Park Pavilion & Pitches

We are currently collaborating with Bristol Pakistanis Cricket Club (BPCC) and the Easton Cowboys and Cowgirls Sports and Social Club (ECCSSC, or the Cowfolk) to put in an Expression of Interest for the Netham Park Pavilion and pitches that Bristol City Council have included in their Sports Facility Transfer programme. This could be a great opportunity to build a community focused sports facility and we wanted to share how this came about and where we’re up to in this process.

As some of you may remember, last year we kicked off the hunt for a home venue for Bristol Co-operative Gym. After months of preparation, including a successful bid to join Power To Change’s Bright Ideas programme, we put the word out to look for new premises. That was at the start of March 2020, so of course within days of that post being published our focus had to change quite significantly.

The venue hunt was put on a back burner and we moved our classes online, which turned out to be a timely move as all gyms were instructed to close just a week or two after that. We introduced a low-cost membership option to give access to all our classes from home, keeping the previous memberships available as a “pay what you feel” option for those who felt they could afford to subsidise the lower cost membership. Then, like most people across the country and the globe, we hunkered down to weather out the lockdowns.

Throughout the year we had discussions about the postponed venue hunt, and what that may mean now that we’ve all had some enforced reflection time. We all felt fairly nervous about the idea of taking on a venue of our own in these uncertain times but we were encouraged by the way our little co-operative community of gym members stuck with us throughout. Since the inception of Bristol Co-operative Gym, we’ve attempted to model our organisation around the people who are within it and our base aims and objectives, not on traditional “fitness industry” ways of doing things. Now more than ever we can see there’s a need to create spaces where we can build an entirely different community-based gym environment. Where anyone can come to have fun, learn healthy habits and be part of a supportive community of like-minded people.

With all this in mind, at the end of 2020 we decided to tentatively have a look for a venue again, and so we reached out to various local organisations to see if they knew anywhere that might fit our needs, and started rooting through estate agents listings too.

In early February 2021 we were told about Bristol City Council’s Sports Facility Transfer, which covers a range of pitches and facilities across Bristol. One of these includes a building that we think may be suitable for Bristol Co-operative Gym to manage – Netham Park Pitches & Pavilion.

A site plan detailing the areas within Netham Park that are part of the Sports Facility Transfer. Highlighted areas are 4 football pitches of differing sizes, a cricket pitch with an overlapping football pitch and the pavillion building in the centre of the park. Outside of the highlighted areas are large areas of open grass, the bowling green, the wildlife areas, an area with walkways and a play area for children.

Netham Park Pavilion Facilities & sports pitches plan
Source: Bristol City Council Sports Facilities Transfer

Note: only the highlighted areas are affected

One detail we immediately saw was that this package would include management and maintenance of the cricket and football pitches, something that we didn’t have direct experience of running or using! We heard that Bristol Pakistanis Cricket Club (BPCC) and Easton Cowboys and Cowgirls Sports and Social Club (ECCSSC, or the Cowfolk) had also been thinking about putting in Expressions of Interest. We reached out to them to see how far along they were in their bids, what they were thinking of doing (we didn’t want to tread on any toes by rushing in) and whether they might be up for collaborating in a joint bid. With an original deadline a matter of weeks away (the original deadline was Feb 24th, though luckily this was extended to March 31st), we started talking to anyone and everyone who would listen to us to see what they thought of our ideas.

By mid-February, Bristol Co-operative Gym, Bristol Pakistanis Cricket Club and the Cowfolk had decided to team up, with the support of Eastside Community Trust (ECT), to get an “Expression of Interest” together to submit to the Council. Various other organisations were happy to support the idea as the collaboration community model, along with our plans of use of the Pavilion and management of the overall pitches and facilities, sounded worth supporting. Currently this list includes Friends of Netham Park, Wellspring Settlement, JumpStart CIC, Access Sport, Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust, and Off the Record.

We decided to set up a public meeting to inform as many people as possible before the looming deadline, and so published an article in Up Our Street to get the word out. That public meeting took place via Zoom on Tuesday 16th March 2021. One representative from each main partner in the collaboration spoke to introduce their organisation and give an overview of our Expression of Interest, and then the panel answered questions and concerns from the attendees. You can read the minutes and round up of that meeting here.

One of the biggest concerns raised at the public meeting was the fear that this process would cut off access to a valuable green space in Netham. The park (as a whole) is not what the council is looking to transfer – just the pitches and responsibility for their maintenance, and the maintenance and management of the pavilion building. The Netham Park Site Information Pack published here goes into much more detail about what is and isn’t expected of any successful bid, including the fact that the pitches are part of the shared-use aspect of the wider Netham Park grounds (that is, that the public have access when sports are not being played on the pitches), and that the successful bid must focus on the continued provision for sport on the site.

We, like others in the local area, were dismayed to hear that the council can’t continue to subsidise the costs of maintaining all the sports facilities at Netham Park, leaving a situation where either the hire costs have to be substantially increased to cover the council’s shortfall, or facilities being left boarded up and unused and the future of the site uncertain. We lend our support to all those who call for an open and community led discussion of the future of the sports facilities at Netham Park, and we hope that we can all find a way to work together.

At this stage in the process, an Expression of Interest is just that – an application to the council about the way we (BCG, BPCC, ECCSSC and ECT) think that we could possibly manage this if the council is unable to. It’s not binding in any way at this time.

If our Expression of Interest is accepted, we will move to the next stage of the process – developing our business case. In order to do this, we will need much more information from the Council about accurate running costs, current leases and agreements they already have in place, and any works necessary to make the Pavilion usable again. Due to the lockdown, we’ve not been allowed to do any site visits, and so no surveys have been done yet. Like us, BPCC and the Cowfolk are not-for-profit and member-led (one of the reasons why we’re a good fit for each other) and all of us will be putting the information we find out to our full memberships before moving forward.

We’ll keep you updated on any progress!




Current Classes

All of the classes are held online using Zoom, and can be booked via the TeamUp calendar (or MoveGB)

Monday evening – No-Gym Strength Training

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 develop your strength at home.

Tues/Thurs lunchtimes – Undoing Sitting

A brief, half-hour class you can fit into a lunch break, in which Isidora leads us through a flow of movements specially chosen to meet the needs of whoever’s in the class that day.

We hope you can use these classes as part of a habit of taking movement breaks after long periods of sitting. Feel strong through increased ranges of motion, and explore the endless potential of your body in a pleasant sequence of novel and effective movements

Tuesday evening – Posture. Balance. Strength.

Develop holistic strength, posture and body awareness in this new class with Isidora. We will take a creative, exploratory approach in which any movement can become an exercise. Expand your exercise “vocabulary” beyond the limits of the usual gym-based training and discover the pleasure of moving with intention and detail.

Wednesday evening – HIIT From Home

Develop your fitness through short bursts of activities mixed with periods of rest. The exercises Guy programs use require minimal space and no equipment, so you can follow along wherever you are.

Thursday evening – Stretch and Release

Isidora leads us in a sequence of calming movements aimed at restoring mobility and reducing stress at this challenging time. Using breathwork and self-myofascial release (SMR) to reduce tension in overactive muscles, we will relax into new ranges of motion.

Friday evening – Running Companion

Whilst lockdown measures are keeping us from holding outdoor group sessions, instead join in a weekly online check-in focused on running.

Guy will host an online group session in which we can discuss our past week’s running experiences and ask any questions about how to continue running safely and effectively (injury prevention, safe progression, measuring intensity etc.).

3rd World Sports Club Report: Orienteering

After the second lockdown we had a two-week reprieve of being able to meet and train together outdoors again – time for one last Not a Bootcamp and World Sports Club before the winter break.

I spent a couple of days rifling through the World Sports Encyclopaedia to find sports that could be played in the dark and with minimal shared equipment. In response to my slightly frantic messages the day before it had been suggested that perhaps goalball could be a good option, or other sports that don’t require sight, but finding a ball with a bell in it at a day’s notice seemed tricky at the best of times, let alone during a pandemic…

Thankfully the encyclopaedia, as always, had an answer – orienteering! By happy coincidence I remembered Rachel telling me about a keen local orienteer who’d shared a trail they’d made for their children around Greenbank during the last lockdown. Perfect! I e-mailed out our new meeting location – the corner of Emlyn Road and Greenbank Road, 07:00, wear a red carnation.

We convened in the dark trying not to look too suspicious – four creeps in trainers, minus one who was sensible enough to sleep through their alarm, with two compasses between us. I’d stayed up the night before desperately watching YouTube videos on how to take a bearing so I think we were all relieved to have Rachel there, with her experience of navigation and willingness to teach.

Our first clue led us on a happy trot up to the mosque but this came to a slippery end on the path through Rosemary Green, which was steep and greased with the night’s rain. It levelled out though and we were soon back up and running with our torches strafing the grass, searching for a gap in the far fence. The next clue was a symbol that Amy described as looking like a cottonbud, and we had to find the stick in the middle – the cutting through the embankment!

As we ran along the outside of the cemetery Lotte told us about “dropping” – the Dutch predilection for dumping children in the woods on their birthdays with an instruction to find their way home. I’m not sure what felt more cruel – that or meeting at 07:00 on a winter morning for a run in the rain. Still, it should harden us up, in the Dutch-Spartan tradition.

We paused under the old viaduct for the next clue. The sky was brightening a little and the arches loomed as patches of more solid darkness, occasionally lit by the headlights of the passing cars. The road was flooded and the water lapped over the edge of the pavement where we stood consulting the map. We ran away from the main road, down a squelching track towards the allotments, past a rolling stream, and then straight up a contour line via steps that took us from the mud and shanty-like sheds to the fresh bricks of a new estate.

We ran in the road, glancing in at the people in dressing gowns making their breakfast lit by Christmas lights, and talked about treasure hunts, then cut back over the Royate Hill reserve. We stopped at the mosaic and I remembered what Yaz had said on our Christmas walk last year – how this marked the first time a compulsory purchase order was used in the UK for the protection of wildlife. Every pocket of green space in the city has been fought for, and I felt appreciative of the fact they were there for us to thread together on our route.

We ducked through the hole in the railings and ran back through the cemetery. By now it was alive with dog walkers and the morning’s events felt like a strange dream. The feeling grew when I got home and began my work day – a secret adventure under cover of night. It’s like there are multiple cities – the night city and the day city, the city of the roads and the city of alleys, the housing estates and the allotments, the way to work and all the other ways… Orienteering broke our nodal urban experience into glorious, pointless meanderings and the contrast of that with the monotony of lockdown made normality feel richer. I was back at home but the house was somewhere else.

How the Tier System and a Possible Lockdown Affect our Timetable

Our aim of prioritising the health of our members feels more important than ever during this coronavirus pandemic. When the initial lockdown eased, although guidance allowed us to hold gym classes indoors, this would have used up our resources to such an extent that it would affect our ability to provide online sessions. After conducting a survey of all of our members, and researching the health advice related to how this virus can spread, we concluded that we would continue to use our resources to focus on providing our regular sessions as online only, and also add some outdoor sessions as resources allowed.

This blog post outlines how our timetable of sessions may change in response to the tiered Alert Level system and potential national lockdown.

Bristol’s current alert level can be found here, with more detailed reports here.

You can also find our risk assessment for in-person sessions in another blog post.

Tier 1 – Medium

Our timetable remains the same – a mix of online and outdoors in-person classes.

(It would be possible to have indoor classes as long as government guidance about ventilation and social distancing was followed, though as explained above we are not currently offering any indoor sessions.)

Tier 2 – High

No change for our timetable – outdoor classes are unaffected.

(Indoor classes for people who aren’t in the same household or social bubble would stop, if we had any.)

Tier 3 – Very High

It’s likely that this would also be no change for our timetable, but that we would refrain from using any shared equipment in outdoor classes, even with careful cleaning. Different councils negotiate different rules, so we would need to refer to these as and when necessary.

National lockdown

This would depend on the details of the lockdown, though it’s likely that we would stop any outdoors in-person classes and move them to online equivalents. Outdoors in-person classes would be replaced with online alternatives, and we’ll consult our members about what they’d most like those to be.

We will continue to keep you informed about any further changes that affect our timetable.

We hope that our sessions are providing some relief and thanks for sticking with us ❤️

2nd World Sports Club Report: Tiro Con Honda & Ringtennis

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, we convened at the top of Eastville Park. After having a go on Nic’s recumbent, everyone started trying out the shepherd’s slings while Leila and I marked out the last of the Ringtennis courts between a father and son practicing football and a group playing frisbee. As the tennis and lacrosse balls flew off the slings in all directions around us, we soon realised that we might need a little more space…

Our first sport, Tiro Con Honda, comes from the Balearic Islands off the east coast of Spain – Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, Formentera etc.. It involves using a shepherd’s sling to hurl natural stones either as far as you can or at a target. The method – rotating the sling around your head to hold the stone in place through centrifugal force before releasing one end to propel it forwards – was probably brought to Ibiza around 600BC by migrants from Phoenicia, an eastern Mediterranean marine empire, and was originally used by shepherds to discourage straying sheep.

The target is a 120cm x 120cm square (cuadro) raised 50cm off the ground with a 50cm diameter diana (bullseye) in the middle. The stones are cast from two of three distances – 30, 60 and 90 pasos (1 paso = 65cm footsteps), and you receive variable points depending on your accuracy and the distance. There are three attempts. We took many more.

I had followed a YouTube tutorial to make the slings out of duct tape and some sash cord but, try as we might, we initially couldn’t get the ball to stay in. The technique went something like this:

  1. Place the ball in the pouch
  2. Put the loop at one end of the sling round your index finger and the knot at the other end between your ring and middle fingers
  3. Convince yourself that this time something different might happen
  4. With a sudden burst of energy, frantically whirl the sling round your head
  5. Protect your head with your arms and look around wildly to see where the ball has gone, hoping you won’t hear the sounds of a pile-up on Fishponds Road

We were working in pairs, with the optimistic idea being that the partner would act as a fielder. Instead, they just ended up pointing out where the ball ended up – usually behind you.

I remembered a different design that had a slit through the middle of the pouch so used a key to add that to the slings and this helped quite a bit. We all took on board each other’s tips about technique and by the end I think all of us had managed to get a ball to go forwards at least once. The sling was used as a weapon by the Spanish Army until the end of the Renaissance. I’m not sure we would have given their enemies much trouble.

We moved on to Ringtennis, a variant of quoits invented by the radical city planner Hermann Schneider. Schneider transformed the built environment of Karlsruhe, a city in south-west Germany, in the ‘20s through collaborating with modernist artists like Walter Gropius and Kurt Schwitters. He invented Ringtennis in the winter of 1925-1926. Like quoits, it was popular to play on the decks of passenger ships.

Nic told us how he used to play it with his dad and had memories of bruised knuckles from trying to catch the solid wooden rings. We had co-opted some gymnastics rings to play with and soon understood what he was referring to, especially if you used his dad’s tactic of throwing it end-over-end!

Ringtennis is played on a court 12.2m long x 4.6m (single) or 5.5m (double), with a 1.8m neutral zone between the two halves and a 145-152cm high net in the middle. Players throw the ring to each other over the net, making sure it stays in the playing area – not out of bounds or in the neutral zone. The ring may only be touched with one hand while balancing on one leg within the playing area. It can get quite fast-paced when you get the hang of it, so long as you can stand catching the horrible things.

As we played, the sun began to set and gave an advantage to anyone playing with their back to it. We flung the rings and our bodies all over the place and Sally wondered how many people had been lost overboard to Ringtennis.

After a good half-hour or so Lotte found, miraculously, that all of our games had drawn 50-all again! So we packed up our kit and headed home for the evening.

This was the second of our two trial runs of the World Sports Club. We will look at the feedback from this and our other experimental outdoor classes and put together a more consistent timetable for November.

For the next two Saturdays at 10:00 Isidora will be leading another trial session – Not a Bootcamp! This offers bootcamp-style strength and fitness training without the pseudo-military machismo that can come with that format. Come and enjoy the challenge of this style of circuit training, being outdoors, and training together, all supported by Isidora’s masterful programming and a range of adaptations for each exercise. You can book on for free here.

1st World Sports Club Report: Benthik & Lapta

On a relentlessly rainy Sunday morning that did its best to put off anyone sensible, it was brilliant to have eight players present for the inaugural World Sports Club. The plan had been to arrive early and find a good spot to set out our lapta pitch but we weren’t exactly struggling for position, being the only people in Eastville Park bar the occasional sodden dog walker.

We assembled under a tree thinking it might provide some shelter, though the leaves instead seemed to just gather the rain into larger droplets and soon we were all soaked through. Still, we were warmed by the joy of seeing each other again at our first in-person class since the lockdown and excited to get started.

The planned warm-up, an Indonesian game called benthik, proved to be more of a cool-down – a fairly stationary activity perhaps better suited to warmer weather. The object of the game is to scoop a short piece of bamboo off two stones using a longer stick. Fielders attempt to catch the short stick and then use it to strike a wicket formed by placing the longer stick across the stones. If the batter is not caught, they measure the distance that they hit the stick, score that number of points, and bat again, but this time with a different technique – the short stick being held vertically between the palm and the stone. On the third round, it is lent against a stone, scooped up and hit out.

We only played two rounds, which perhaps didn’t give us long enough to figure out the optimal batting technique and achieve the distances managed by children on YouTube, but Nic developed a ground-skimming method that thwarted any catching and Lotte managed the elusive third-round scoop-and-whack. But those blossoming bethnik careers were thwarted by the fact that some of us were visibly shivering, so we moved on to something more active – lapta.

Lapta is a Russian bat-and-ball game that has been played since at least the 14th century. Despite the amount of time it’s been around, it was very difficult to find a comprehensive ruleset in English – most of the written information was about how you need “firm eternal confidence that you cannot be defeated” and that “the lazy and cowardly have no place in this game”. Despite this, we marked out a pitch with the mandatory coloured cones and divided into teams wearing the equally mandatory, and very flattering, orange bibs, and started trying to figure out how to play.

Lapta could be described as a sort of mix between rounders, bulldogs and dodgeball. The pitch, which can be anywhere between 20-45m wide and 35-80m long, is divided into two unequal sections – the gorod (city), which measures from the baseline to a boundary (called the salo) drawn 10m down the length of the pitch, and the kon, which extends from the salo to the end of the pitch. Beyond that end-line is the prigorod (the suburbs).

The batting team line up at the baseline and the fielding team disperse themselves in the kon. One member of the batting team throws a ball to the batter, who uses a cricket-like bat to hit the ball beyond the salo without going out of bounds. They have two attempts. When this is managed, the batting team rush up the field and must make it from the city to the safety of the suburbs and possibly back again, avoiding the fielding wildfolk in the kon. If they make it, they score two points each. The fielding team attempt to catch the ball (getting the batter “out”) and then throw the ball at members of the batting team to prevent them from scoring. They can throw to each other and chase members of the batting team to get a better position.

We had half an hour left in the class and, knowing games are usually 30 mins each half, thought we’d take it easy by playing just 15 minutes each way. The batting team soon realised that the “game” was essentially just endless shuttle runs in the rain while being pelted with a muddy tennis ball, so we all agreed to play 7-minute quarters instead.

By the third quarter, some tactics had emerged. Jayde skirted the boundaries on her sprints through the kon, Maria made use of an overhead batting technique to great effect, Sally introduced a paired back-stop hunting strategy to the fielding, and Jen used a self-sacrificing decoy run from the suburbs to get her batting team back to safety.

As the sprints added up, and there were an increasing number of players lingering in the suburbs, there was some debate about whether the entire batting team always had to run. We had a brief discussion and decided that, really, none of us had to do anything.

With that liberating thought, and without any idea of what the score was, I can confidently say that we tied at 50-all (thanks Mike) and so were all winners (or losers, depending on how you look at it – we were soaking wet and knackered).

It was brilliant fun and we hope you can join us for two different sports next Sunday, this time at 16:00.

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!