#RunWithAnIdea Post: Is there an Olympic Legacy?

Friday, July 12, 2013

I was thrilled to be invited to take part in a multi-blog writing series called 'Run With An Idea', which is the brainchild of Diary of a Dashing Fashionista and Carrie On Running.  It is a way to spark some healthy debates about running and other health-related topics.  We will be posting every other week, so check by here on Fridays for my views, or see what everyone has to say with the link above.

The first topic whether or not there is an Olympic Legacy one year after London 2012.  I decided it would be useful to see what my readers thought.  Thanks to everyone who took part in my survey.  It provided all of us with some incite in to what the general public feels about this topic. Working in fitness, my views can be a little skewed as I am heavily involved with Sport England's Sportmakers campaign (which was developed to inspire a generation to be more active before and after the Olympics).  I have seen my Sportmakers alumni excited about leading others to be more active but what about the execution?

Seventy four people participated in my survey and 60.9% felt there isn't an Olympic Legacy in their community.  The feedback mentioned that London has seen the most benefit to new sporting opportunities and their connection to the Olympic Legacy.  From a list of suggestions, most respondents thought group exercise sessions in a park would be the best way for the general public moving, followed by novice level sport teams for adults new to a particular sport.  From my personal experience, I held free running technique sessions at various times in Green Park and had trouble getting people to turn up (even though they said they would).  It was still rewarding working with the few people that did because they seemed to enjoy the technique pointers and interval training which was something different to the typical long runs seen in free run clubs.  The philosophy behind Sportmakers isn't necessarily about quantity, but rather connecting people to activities.  My participants mentioned several time they wouldn't have the discipline to run sprints on their own and felt it was a beneficial coaching session.

According to my survey, the Olympics inspired 27.4% to try a new sport and 16.1% to volunteer in a sport-related activity. So if Sportmakers (official or unofficial) out there donating their time to get people moving, who is noticing?  Where are the events?  How do we spread the word about these opportunities to get more people involved? If we want to see an Olympic Legacy, should the Olympic facilities and equipment be open to the public by now at a reasonable membership/hire rate?

As a Sportmaker, I have friends I met through the program out there holding sessions in all different sporting disciplines.  The effect might truly be grassroots at the neighborhood level, more underground in its impact.  One of the challenging aspects of Sportmakers is that we have to rely on self-reporting to see how the program is in practice.  But how can we take it one step farther so everyone knows being active is easy and good for you and where to get involved?

76.7% of respondents wished they had more time to exercise, citing work commitments as the biggest block that prevents them from getting enough exercise in.  Should Sportmakers link up with the larger companies in the UK?  Instead of holding sport sessions, do we need to be more present in the workplace, changing perspectives in corporate culture about work-life balance?

In my little East London world, I see the Olympic Legacy inspiring people to be active and lead others to be so too.

Do I think we can do better? Yes.

Do I think people need to make physical exercise a priority over pubs, Facebooking, and TV? Yes.

Do I think we can do this? Absolutely.

But how do we do it effectively?  I don't know.

Modern day presents so many ways to make life easier (cars, bus, tubes, factory machines) and be distracted. Changing an entire culture is tough but it can be done over time.  A lot of money has be invested in the Olympics and Olympic Legacy. Can we re-evaluate the spending so far to see what has been the most effective and refocus our efforts? I don't think it is time to give up but rather keep at it. Any impact we have on people's health is a good one.  62.2% of people said they have been more active in 2013 than 2012.  Let's continue on this trail of success and keep the momentum going.


  1. "76.7% of respondents wished they had more time to exercise"

    See, I think that's the biggest cop-out excuse ever. I work full time, study part time, do a few bits of volunteering and I'm still finding time to train for my second marathon.

    Do you think it's perhaps just that the generations have forgotten that exercising/being active isn't a chore and should just be a general part of daily life without it being branded as 'exercise'? Trouble is, how on earth do you change that mindset?!

  2. As someone who loves to workout, I wonder that often as to how people "wish they had time" to exercise. I don't think of my workouts as something I have to find time for, its just part of my day. I think my most successful stories of changing clients mindsets is being able to change their work environment. Currently, workplace wellness is exploding over here in popularity and as employers begin to see the benefits in giving employees a healthy place to work, their employees begin to have time for exercise.

  3. I agree that the excuse of 'not having time' is a mindset that needs to be erased. How do we instigate this change in people of all ages? Does exercise need to be more fun? Do we need to turn off all power so people can't waste time in other ways?

    I agree with Carrie that people have forgotten how to be active and how we *need* to be active.

    Shannon- where are you based? Is it only big companies that are bringing about this change?


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