Couch to 5K Run Leaders Win a Vice-Chancellor’s Award For Health and Safety 2019!

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Our run leaders have been recognised for their inspiring work in hosting an entry level Couch to 5K programme for university staff as they have been awarded the Health and Wellbeing Champions award as part of the prestigious Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Health and Safety 2019.

The run leaders, Grace Roberts, Louise Walton and Get Out, Get Active student activator, Ellie Dean, have been inspiring and educating participants to improve their health and wellbeing now and in the future by laying the foundations they need to continue to build physical activity into their everyday life.

The Couch to 5K programme included carefully planned sessions to help participants progress and build up their fitness whilst improving their technique and knowledge about running in a safe, social and friendly environment.

25 staff from across the university community took part in the programme which culminated this week in a graduation event for all participants at the Leeds 5K series at the Brownlee Cycle Centre. All runners completed a chip-timed 5K run at this EvenSplits licensed event.

Grace Roberts, one of the run leaders, said:

I’ve really enjoyed watching our runners develop over time – not just in their running, but also in their confidence, the way they work together as a group, support each other, and seeing them enjoying their running. As a leader, I love watching this process. I think it helps people realise they really can do anything if they try!

Couch to 5K participants were guided through a 9 week running programme which involved a mixture of running, jogging and walking. The run leaders developed the sessions so they were flexible and sensitive to individual needs. Many participants were returning to or starting exercise for the first time after illness and injury and long absences. Other motivations to take part in the programme included a desire to increase self-confidence around running.

The run leaders were contactable for all participants via the private social media group so any worries or questions could be addressed outside of the set coaching sessions.

One participant said:

I’ve always been a nervous and self-conscious runner and have avoided it at all costs.  But I’ve also been envious of those that do.  So I bit the bullet and signed myself up to the Couch to 5K programme.  From the very first session, the run leaders were supportive and encouraging. Their sense of fun made each Tuesday’s session something to look forward to rather than something daunting.  And the actual Coach to 5K programme meant the progression has been gradual and therefore manageable.  My ‘running’ confidence has grown enormously so much so that I quite willingly go off running on my own now.  My sense of wellbeing following each run is a joy and my overall improvement in fitness is noticeable.  I’m still slow-and-steady and was nervous about the actual 5K event, but that is a huge improvement from just a couple of months ago when I couldn’t even run to the end of the road!

There is a pathway for continuation for participants now that the Couch to 5K programme has finished; our GOGA run club meet twice a week for a lunchtime run. The Couch to 5K participants have been welcomed into this wider running community on campus.

We will be hosting another Couch to 5K programme in the New Year. This is open to all university students and staff. The programme will officially begin on Tuesday 4th February 2020 with an option to begin in the second session on 11th February if you’re unable to begin on the 4th.

The programme is 8 weeks long and will culminate in a graduation event for all participants at the Leeds 5K series at the Brownlee Cycle Centre on Wednesday 25th March 2020 at 7.15pm. All runners will complete a chip-timed 5K run at this EvenSplits licensed event.

The cost of the course is just £20 which includes all coached sessions, entry into the chip-timed 5K run on 25th March and you’ll also receive a commemorative certificate of achievement.

Click here to book your ticket for the next Couch to 5K programme now.

Spotlight Of The Month: Participant

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This month we are spotlighting a regular GOGA participant, Gabriel Matos. One of our activators, Grace, went down to Parkinson steps early in the morning to meet Gabriel before he headed off for a lovely walk to Malham Cove.

Tell us a bit about yourself…GOGAparticipant

My name is Gabriel and I’m in the first year of my Physics PHD. I am originally from Portugal, Lisbon where I did my undergraduate and masters degrees in maths.

How did you first hear about GOGA?

I was looking on the Leeds University Union website when I first moved here. I wanted to find cool new things to do and that’s where I came across a GOGA walking event.

What activities have you participated in through the GOGA programme?

So far I have been on many walks in Yorkshire and the rest of the UK – today I’m going on my 10th walk!

What made you first take part in a GOGA activity?

I wanted a chance to meet new people and visit the countryside in and around Leeds. It’s certainly helped me to do both of those things!

What have you enjoyed most about getting involved as a participant with GOGA?

GOGA gives me the chance to get away from work for a while and do something completely different. My highlight so far has been the walk to Whitby, the weather was amazing that day!

Staff 5 a side Football Tournament for Charity

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After the success of the 5 a side tournament during Staff Healthy Week, the Health & Wellbeing team are bringing it back and are hosting a 5 a side football tournament to raise money for the local charity, Leeds Mind.

The tournament, taking place on Thursday 19th December between 12-2pm in Halls 1 and 2 in the Edge, is £10 per team pay on the day and all proceeds will go to Leeds Mind.

This tournament is open to everyone, no matter your age, gender or ability and it will be a fantastic chance to have fun and blow off some steam after a term of hard work. We very much encourage mixed gender teams.

It’s time to grab your colleagues and form your team! If you’re interested in playing, please email Rachel Harrison with your team details. There are a limited number of team spots available so make sure you’re quick!

If you’re looking to join a team, we’ll help you find one, just get in touch with Rachel.

The deadline to submit your team details is Monday 16th December.

It’s time to grab your colleagues and form your team! It’s set to be a great afternoon. We look forward to seeing you there.

Getting Creative with Vegan Recipes at Food Workshop

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Participants enjoyed cooking up sweet and savoury vegan dishes in our second food workshop of the term.

On the menu of our Vegan workshop we had Sicilian aubergine stew (Caponata) and raw coconut balls.

Traditionally, the main motivation behind veganism was to prevent animal cruelty and exploitation. The activators leading the session, Ellie and Gabriele, discussed the rise in veganism over recent years and the shift in motivations; many people are now adopting the diet to improve their health and reduce the environmental impact of animal agriculture.

Participants learnt some interesting facts about veganism throughout the workshop. For example, the number of vegans in Great Britain increased four times between 2014-2019 and almost half (42%) of UK vegans made the diet change in 2018.

Participants were informed how they can get the nourishment they need from a plant-based diet and we suggested some easy food swaps to reduce meat intake whilst still consuming a tasty and balanced diet.

Our activator, Gabriele, demonstrated the savoury and sweet dishes before the participants split off into small groups to have a go at cooking the recipes. First up was the raw coconut balls. These are the perfect option any time you’re craving a sweet snack. The balls are quick and easy to make and can be made in a large batch and stored in the fridge or freezer.

Whilst the coconut balls were setting in the freezer, participants prepared the Sicilian stew. This traditional dish can be eaten warm as a side dish or main or cold as an antipasto. The stew combines aubergine and tomatoes seasoned with vinegar, salted capers, onions and green olives.

All participants had the opportunity to tuck into their creations at the end of the workshop whilst chatting with other participants and the team of volunteers and activators.

If you’d like to enhance your cooking skills and nutrition knowledge in a fun and social environment, be sure to come along to our next workshop. Our final workshop of the term is Festive Treats themed and is on Thursday 5th December. We will be making traditional British festive treats and we will learn about different festivities around the globe. Book your place for this workshop now.

To have a go at making the vegan recipes yourself, please click here.

Spotlight Of The Month: Volunteer


Every month we will be spotlighting an important member of our Get Out, Get Active community. This could be one of our brilliant activators, a volunteer or a participant.

Get Out, Get Active wouldn’t be able to function without the help of our dedicated team of volunteers. This month we are spotlighting one of our longstanding volunteers, Kelsey Jones. We caught up with Kelsey to hear more about her volunteering experience with GOGA.

GOGASpotlightTell us a bit about yourself…

My name is Kelsey and I have an undergraduate degree in genetics. I am originally from Lancashire but I am loving living in Leeds and really enjoy getting involved with GOGA.

How did you get into volunteering?

I regularly came on GOGA walks as a participant and found that I had a natural interest in helping with navigation and guiding the group. After hearing an activator talk about volunteering opportunities at the end of one walk, I decided to apply! I have now been a volunteer for about a year.

What have you been able to experience through being a GOGA volunteer?

GOGA has provided me with many opportunities that I never would have had otherwise! I have learnt map reading skills, been on a first aid course and developed my confidence in talking to people. If you had told me a year ago that I would be leading groups of people through the countryside using a paper map, I would have said that there was no way!

What have you enjoyed most about getting involved with GOGA?

Getting to visit so many places that I otherwise wouldn’t have visited is always amazing! GOGA has allowed me to explore so much of the country. The walks are so therapeutic, I always come back feeling refreshed after being outside, getting some fresh air and exploring.

Reach New Heights with our Indoor and Outdoor Climbing Sessions


Our climbing programme is bigger and better than ever before with indoor and outdoor sessions taking place throughout the autumn term.

Participants have been enjoying indoor sessions at the climbing wall at the Edge and outdoor trips at the beautiful spot, Almscliffe Crag.

Our indoor sessions are ideal for beginners and they provide an opportunity to progress with the necessary skills and knowledge onto our outdoor climbing trips. Climbing indoors is a lot of fun and can teach you valuable skills. Many famous rock climbers have learned their skills on indoor climbing walls! You can expect to be shown the basics of climbing from bouldering and scaling 8m up the climbing wall, to coming back down safely.

You will also learn the key skill of how to belay others.

Our two outdoor climbing trips have proved to be popular this term. Almscliffe Crag is a beautiful spot for climbing. The crag is considered the greatest gritstone crag in Yorkshire and it has been climbed by some of the very best climbers!

From the top of the crag you can enjoy the scenic views of the valley below. On our outdoor trips this month, participants were led through some basic bouldering before having a go on the ropes, scaling carefully up the crag and abseiling back down again.


Phil, our climbing instructor, is able to adapt the rope course so it’s appropriate for all – whether you’ve had no previous climbing experience before or you consider yourself an expert! Almscliffe Crag is a climber’s paradise with lots of different routes available of varying difficulty.

Climbing is a fantastic full-body workout. It’s the ideal challenge both physically and mentally!

We have a few indoor climbing sessions left this term. You can book your spot here. Our outdoor climbing sessions at Almscliffe Crag will return to the programme next spring.

Garuda Matwork now part of our Balance Class Programme!

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Pilates and yoga are a permanent feature on our wellbeing balance activity programme. On Wednesday evenings (17:30-18:30) we have a brand new class with Sandy, our pilates instructor.

Garuda Matwork takes its name from an Indian mythological sacred bird that can change shape. It combines the spirituality, breath worth and asana practices of yoga, the core strength and focus of pilates and the balletic grace of dance.

It has all the benefits of a robust cardiovascular workout while stretching the mind as well as the body. Garuda is a test of mental strength as well as physical, demanding total concentration during the exercises.

Using the specially designed Garuda apparatus, mat or other complementary equipment you’ll learn to control your body through precise stretches and actions, placing an emphasis on smooth, seamless movements without any stress on joints. Through routines carefully choreographed by Sandy, you’ll soon develop greater poise and control, and a leaner, more resilient body.

Whether you’re recovering from a physical injury, looking for an alternative to traditional gym workouts or an accomplished athlete, Garuda will challenge you but the rewards will be considerable.

Sandy, our Garuda instructor, comments:

“Garuda inspires a more intuitive way to exercise the body. If you come along to my class, you will learn how to control your body through precise stretches and actions, placing an emphasis on smooth, seamless movement without any stress on the joints.

Garuda is the perfect workout after a day of being sat at a desk. The first class was a real success and I look forward to seeing lots new faces over the coming weeks!”

Come along to our class and experience increased strength, flexibility, coordination and endurance. Sessions are just £3 pay on the day. Book your place in advance here.

Food & Nutrition Workshops back with a Mexican Themed Evening!


After the success of last year, our food workshops have made a return to the Get Out, Get Active programme. We kick started the term with a Mexican Street Food themed workshop.

Our food workshops are an opportunity for you to enhance your cooking skills and nutrition knowledge with the help of our activators and our Food Science and Nutrition volunteers. Each workshop has a different theme and we have created recipes especially for each theme, considering cuisine from around the world.

On the menu of our Mexican Street Food workshop we had baked vegetarian enchiladas topped with a spiced tomato sauce and double cheese, chunky guacamole and creamy corn and black bean salsa.

Mexican cuisine began about 9000 years ago and Mexican street food is one of the most varied parts of the cuisine. Participants learnt about seasonal eating and what foods are in season currently and we discussed what constitutes traditional Mexican cuisine.

Our activator, Ellie, demonstrated the carefully crafted recipes before the participants split off into small groups to have a go at cooking the recipes. First up was the vegetarian enchiladas which are a satisfying healthy meal packed full of flavour, fibre and fiesta! They are very easy to make and are a quick and easy crowd-pleaser if you are ever hosting.

Everyone got stuck into making the accompanying dips whilst the enchiladas were baking in the oven. Guacamole is a staple in Mexican food. The recipe is fresh, chunky and creamy whilst packing a citrusy punch from the lime, garlic and (optional) chilli. The corn and black bean salsa is another quick and easy side that adds cool flavour to the fiery enchiladas.

All participants went away with copies of the recipes and leftovers in their bags!

Our next food workshop will be vegan themed and will take place on Thursday 14th November. You will be shown how to make some delicious sweet and savoury vegan dishes. Come along to enhance your cooking skills and understand how to get the nourishment you need from a plant-based diet. Book your place for this workshop now.

To have a go at making the Mexican recipes yourself, please click here.