This month we met with Onur Coskuner, Founder of Active Within, a community interest organisation which provides free physical activity.
Hi Onur, tell us how Active Within came about?
I’m a qualified personal trainer and have always been passionate about health and fitness. Before I set up Active Within, I used to work in leisure centre management where I noticed some people couldn’t afford gym memberships. I started thinking about how to provide free exercise in communities by working with funders and that’s how Active Within came about! I started approaching local authorities and housing associations with my idea and within three months it had taken off. Woodberry Down was actually the very first pilot project in 2017 with the help of Notting Hill Genesis’s Wellbeing Funding. We’ve had a lot of success with it and now also run programmes in Enfield, Broxbourne, Waltham Forest and Kensington and Chelsea.
Tell us a bit more about your physical activity programmes.
Active Within aims to remove financial and social barriers to make exercise accessible for everyone. We deliver a varied timetable of physical activity for people of all ages and abilities, including a whole host of classes such as bootcamp, box-fit, martial arts, Abs Bums Thighs and yoga. We offer physical activity for senior residents including seated exercise sessions and gentle walks around the reservoir. We operate at The Edge youth hub where we provide junior yoga sessions to help kids focus on their studies more and we provide family-fit classes for people with young children.
What are the benefits of getting involved in physical activity?
Exercise is such a powerful thing. It enhances health and well-being and enables people to overcome all sorts of issues and problems such as obesity, illness, insecurities, anxiety and depression. It’s life-changing. It also helps bring people together and make new friends. I’ve got people in some of the classes who are really young and some who are really old and they’ve become really good friends over time just by coming together each week to exercise.
What’s next for the future?
I’d love to do some more work with young people and tackling knife crime. It would be great to be able to provide some self-defence classes that teach the importance of not retaliating, getting away from dangerous situations and making the right decisions. I’d also really like to roll out Active Within through every single London borough and then do some cross-borough work to help bring different communities together.
How can people get involved with your physical activity programme?
Absolutely anyone can sign up. All you have to do is register for free at www.activewithin.com and book yourself onto one of the classes. You can also just show up and we can do a manual registration with one of the coaches if you don’t have access to the internet.
To find out more information, please email Onur at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out @activewithin on Instagram.
Woodberry Down must have a special place in your heart then, being the first place you set up a project!
Absolutely, there is a massive community here in Woodberry Down and the people are so welcoming. So many residents want to get involved in the programme and it’s been great to play a small part in bringing the community together through exercise.
Sounds like you’ve got all bases covered! Why do you think Active Within has been so successful?
Making an impact in the communities we work in is so important to the whole team. I only employ local coaches so the people leading the classes are part of the community themselves and are really passionate about making a difference. We genuinely want to see positive change in the people we work with and the environments where we work and I think that the people who do our programmes pick up on that.