Get moving! That's the message going out to communities in York this summer

WHEN was the last time you got up off the sofa and did something active?

If it's been too long, then a new community project for York may encourage you to get going.

Move the Masses has just launched at York to give people the opportunity to get active – mostly for free.

It is running a range of community workouts for all ages and fitness levels at locations across the city.

People can either work out with volunteer "champions" for free, or join a fitness class for the donation of a few pounds, with every paid-for place matched by a free place.

The aim, says founder Egg Cameron, is to get the people of York more active and boost their physical and mental wellbeing.

"The concept is to get people moving. It is for everybody, but there is a focus on people in poverty or people who are isolated in society, people with mental health problems, older people and those with disability. The idea is to get everyone involved."

Lack of money, loneliness, isolation, ill health and age are just some of the reasons for inactivity, says Egg.

"Poverty can be a barrier for people participating in physical activity. People think they have got to go to a gym, or pay for a fitness class, pay for equipment – but you can do lots of things for free."

Egg points to the fact that many parks in York have fixed-place outdoor exercise equipment for people to use, while the University of York has a "trim trail" with pieces of equipment spread over a 5km route.

Funds are being sought to pay for an interactive website showing the location of these sites with videos on how to use the equipment and how to work out, says Egg.

Meanwhile, the Move the Masses team is working with local groups on how to provide outdoor exercise challenges at low-cost.

Egg said: "Equipment is expensive, we can show people how to do it cheaper, by using logs to create obstacles and recycled tyres.

"Part of it is about using what is around you and having a really good workout. We want people to be physically active, but in a simple and affordable way."

And she said people didn't need expensive sports kit to work out in – "it's not about getting hot and sweaty – you just need to get active! You can rock up in any clothes. It's about learning the different ways you can move your body."

She added: "We want to demonstrate to people what they can do for free and encourage them into physical activity – and show them how much fun it can be."

But there is a serious message behind the initiative.

"We want to get the people of York off their seats and into physical activity," says Egg. "Twenty-nine percent of ten and 11 year olds in York are overweight or obese and 18 per cent of people over 65 have diabetes. York also has more excess mortality in adults under 75 than the average in England."

And all the signs are that the obesity crisis shows no signs of easing. Just last week, a report based on data from the World Health Organisation predicted that almost half of the UK will be obese by 2045, with diabetes levels rocketing too.

Dr Alan Moses, who presented the study at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna, said the numbers amounted to a "staggering challenge." He said: "As well as the medical challenges these people will face, the costs to the countries' health systems will be enormous."

Egg acknowledges that we are in bad shape and something has to be done. "Too many people are not taking any exercise."

Besides fighting excess weight, exercise can boost the mood and be great for people suffering with mental ill-health, she added.

"Mental health problems are going up and physical activity is a brilliant way to tackle poor mental health," says Egg, who set up the popular Good Gym project in York last year, where people meet weekly to do a run as well as help out on a community project. Egg hopes Move the Masses will start up in other parts of the UK too.

In the meantime, until its website is up and running, people can find out fitness events in York via its Facebook page (@MTMcharity) and on Twitter (@MassesMove).

Over June and July, a range of open workshops will be running for people to have a go, says Egg.

If you are interested in becoming a Move the Masses champion – or a treasurer for the organisation and become one of its trustees – then sent a message via Twitter or Facebook, or telephone Egg on 07473 933335.