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Give It A Go! – Gym memberships for free London, UK

  • Give It A Go participants enjoy an exercise class at The Armoury in Camden
  • Map showing London Borough of Camden

The ‘Give It A Go’ 2 and 3 projects are physical activity interventions aimed at addressing health inequalities within the London Borough of Camden by providing free access to gym, swim and exercise classes in five Camden leisure centres for disadvantaged local people.

Any local resident on government benefits is eligible for a one month free gym membership at any one of the gyms in the scheme. If  they attend five times in the first month, they qualify for an additional free month resulting in a maximum of four months free membership. The scheme includes a free gym induction and exercise programme and two further one-to-one training sessions during the course of the intervention, as well as email, text reminders and fitness advice.

How did it start?

The first ‘Give It A Go’ campaign was a concept created by a partnership comprising the local council, National Health Service and not-for-profit leisure providers in Camden in 2009/10 and was a finalist in the Chief Medical Officers Public Health Awards.


The London Borough of Camden Joint Strategic Needs Assessment 2012 (JSNA) indicated that the London Borough of Camden is the 13th most deprived London Borough and that eight of Camden’s ‘Lower Super Output Areas’ (LSOAs) are in the 10% most deprived in England. The ‘Camden Sport and Physical Activity Needs Assessment Report’ 2009, also demonstrated an unequivocal need for action to be taken to increase physical activity levels in the Camden area with 44% of respondents having not participated in physical activity for at least 30 minutes in the last three months. The ‘Give It A Go’ programme was introduced to tackle inequalities and remove cost as a barrier to participating in physical activity.

Project Objectives

  • To engage Camden’s most in need population groups and inactive population with a physical activity intervention.
  • To increase the activity levels of Camden’s priority groups identified from the 2009/2010 scheme.
  • To demonstrate the increase in physical activity levels both during and post scheme.

Why is this project important?

Jubilee Hall Trust is a small charity which aims to build healthier communities. We recognise that we are too small on our own to make a significant difference, so we seek out partner organisations who share our aims. The ‘Give It A Go’ schemes are a partnership between Jubilee Hall Trust, Greenwich Leisure Limited, Central YMCA, The London Borough of Camden, National Health Service (NHS) North Central London and NHS London. These six partners joint-funded free access to local leisure centres for a period of four months for Camden residents in receipt of government benefits and worked cohesively throughout the project’s duration to ensure efficient and effective coordination and administration of the scheme.

Project resources

The project was joint funded by the local leisure providers, National Health Service (NHS) North Central London and NHS London and with administrative and marketing support from Camden council.

Project results

  • ‘Give It A Go’ 2 had 469 people register and attend an induction at their local leisure centre.
  • ‘Give It A Go’ 2 targeted those on government benefits and all benefit categories were represented by those registered; 32% being in receipt of housing benefit and 26% receiving council tax benefit.
  • 22% of those registered stated they had some form of physical or mental disability.
  • Whilst the largest ethnic group was ‘White British’ a further 16 ethnic groups were represented.
  • 61% of those initially registered for the scheme were female, 10% higher than the Census figures for the area.
  • 110 people on ‘Give It A Go’ 2 exercised for four consecutive months and completed the scheme which represents 23% of those who attended the first induction session.
  • 30% of participants who registered for the scheme were interviewed post-intervention and in excess of 40% stated that their free leisure membership had helped with everyday tasks and that exercise had improved their strength. This same sample demonstrated an 18% decrease in the number of participants that were previously doing no vigorous weekly physical activity and a decrease in the number of people doing no moderate weekly physical activity in the last seven days.
  • In total 5, 834 visits were made across all leisure providers and 19% of participants who completed the scheme undertook a leisure membership or continued to exercise. A further 23% were undecided.

Community Impact

  • The ‘Give It A Go’2 scheme facilitated the increased usage of local leisure facilities and removed fees as being a barrier to participation. This enabled low-income families to access classes, pools and fitness suites that would have previously been unattainable.
  • The Scheme, by focusing on those receiving government benefits, removed barriers to exercise associated with age, gender and ethnicity and focused simply on making physical activity available to all.
  • In offering the ‘Give It A Go’ initiative to 26,000 people in receipt of government benefits in Camden, general awareness of physical activity opportunities within the Borough were raised. This resulted in more than 50 people signing up to receive the Camden Active Health Newsletter detailing the wider community offer for exercise, physical activity and sport.

At the time of writing, ‘Give It A Go’ 3 is still being evaluated, but 725 people had registered and attended an induction at their specified leisure centre and 159 had completed four months of exercise.

Gymtopia Comment

A great project demonstrating that leisure centres and gyms are not just places for those people that are already physically active. It  shows that leisure organisations can reach out to people who have never used a gym before and provide the support and encouragement to get them started on a more physically active future.

Project by:Jubilee Hall Trust

Jubilee Hall Trust

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Location: London, UK
Start date: May 2012
Status: Ongoing
Impact: Local
Submitted: 28 June 2013
Charity: Jubilee Hall Trust