Eco 2022: Forget weights, join the Green Gym

Group gets fit while helping the environment

Monday, 10th January — By Isabelle Stanley

camden gym climate Image 2022-01-06 at 11.51.08 (1)

EVERY week a team of volunteers heads out to improve Camden’s green spaces while making friends and getting fit.

Founded in 2008, the Camden Green Gym has, among many projects, laid hedges in Maygrove Peace Park, managed a meadow in Swiss Cottage Community Orchard and maintained a pond in Waterlow Park.

They’ve even worked to protect the hedgehogs in Regent’s Park.

Senior project officer Simon Booy, said: “We have dozens of sites across Camden, it’s about going to different spaces and working on anything that needs doing. We’re doing hedge laying in one park, which creates really wonderful wildlife corridors, good for insects and small mammals and birds as well.”

Mr Booy started full time at the Conservation Volunteers, which runs the Green Gym, in April.

He said: “I’m a career changer, doing the volunteering, I realised how happy it made me, rather than sitting behind the desk all of the time.”

He added: “I really care about the environment and want to make a difference to urban spaces and green spaces in London.”

People of all ages and walks of life have joined the project, meeting twice a week to garden together.

Mr Booy said: “It’s about doing something for your community, for nature and you’re doing it alongside other people, having a good time. And getting a little bit of fitness from it as well.”

The group is open to anyone, whether they have skills or not.

Mr Booy said: “You can come along, you can get stuck in and you’ll learn stuff and hopefully have a nice time and meet some nice people in the process. It’s a family.”

Working closely with the council, some members of the group have been recommended to attend by GPs or social workers to help reduce loneliness, improve fitness or just to spend more time outdoors.

The group meets on Tuesday, led by James Squires and on Thursday, led by Mr Booy.

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