Success is growing for the FIT BANTAMS programme, which has been run by Bradford City Community Foundation since January.
Launched after the turn of the year, FIT BANTAMS has helped fans tackle their weight, get healthier and be happier.
Supported by 30 clubs in England, the EFL Trust’s FIT FANS programme is powered by over £2.25 million of National Lottery funding from Sport England.
The 12-week programme is aimed at 35 to 60 year-olds, with sessions for both male and female participants available.
It aims to use the magnetism of football to tackle obesity levels in over 10,000 fans across the United Kingdom.
FIT FANS is one of a number of initiatives aimed at tackling lower physical activity participation rates among people living on low incomes, which is one of Sport England’s key priorities.
City's Community Foundation community manager, Adam Thirsk, who runs the programme having been at the club 14 years, has hailed the results the club have see from the initiative.
He said: “The FIT BANTAMS project is more than just a weight-loss programme, it is more like a well-being session.
“Bradford was identified as an ‘in-need’ area - due to issues with obesity and physical health. That is one reason why we started this mindset-changing programme.
“We run the female cohort on Mondays and the male cohort on Wednesdays. The male sessions are at the Utilita Energy Stadium, while the female sessions are at the Cedar Court Hotel on Mayo Avenue.
“The first 45 minutes of the sessions are educational, where we have discussions on nutrition and how small changes can help with well-being and mental health.
“Then, we have a ‘half-time’ break before our practical session, where we have exercise including boxercise and five-a-side football, which are suitable for all members of the programme."
The programme shows individuals how to:
- Improve their eating habits by reducing portion sizes and swapping fatty and sugary foods for fruit, vegetables and high fibre-foods
- Achieve at least 45 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most days of the week. They receive weekly exercise sessions at their club for 12 weeks, and follow a personal pedometer-based walking programme that encourages them to fit physical activity into their daily lives
- Use tried and tested behaviour-change techniques to become more active and improve their diet. These include regular self-monitoring of their weight and pedometer step counts and setting SMART goals to make changes that can be sustained long term.
36.4 million people (61.4 per-cent of England’s population) live within 10 miles of an EFL ground, with four in 10 residents within this catchment area falling into the most-deprived population groups.
Sport England has identified lower physical activity participation rates among people living on low incomes which is why they have joined forces with the EFL Trust network to help people create a long-term healthy and active lifestyle.
In 2011/12, a large-scale, randomised, controlled trial study showed - 12 months after the programme - men had lost an average of 5 per-cent of their starting weight by making gradual practical changes to their physical activity and diet.
Ian Ormondroyd, chief executive of Bradford City Community Foundation, said: "The response to the FIT BANTAMS project has been really good.
"Projects like this are hard to get off the ground, but it has gone really well. We get a great turn-out for both male and female groups and it will hopefully get even better going forward."
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