Are you up for the Challenge?

Keri McAnulla
Keri McAnulla

A new year, a new you! The Great Spen Valley Health Challenge is encouraging Spen folk to step it up – and enjoy a fitter and healthier lifestyle.

The group – led by Legacy Sport and supported by the Spenborough Guardian – was set up to try and get inactive people active.

Great Spen Valley Health Challenge

Great Spen Valley Health Challenge

It has already enjoyed great success with new clubs and activities springing up across the valley.

But now it wants to get even more people moving.

Shaun Fox, from Legacy Sport, said: “We want to know what people are doing already, and then encourage them to do a bit more.

“Can we get everyone doing at least 15 minutes a day? People might be already doing it without realising, they might be walking the dog, or walking their kids to school.

“They should feel good about that, and then see if they can double it. And for those who aren’t doing anything, just 15 minutes a day could be the first step on the road to a healthier life. We’d love to find out what people are doing and have set up a twitter account – @spenhealth – so they can let us know.

“The key message from the Challenge members is that exercise does not have to involve spending hours and hours at the gym, and it can be lots of fun.

Every week Spen Valley High hosts a Let’s Dance ballroom and Latin dance school.

Organiser Gareth Hemingway said: “Dance is the UK’s fastest growing art form. Regular dancing is great for losing weight, maintaining strong bones, improving posture and muscle strength, increasing balance and co-ordination and beating stress.

“And while you’re having fun moving to music and meeting new people, you’re getting all the health benefits of a good workout.”

The dances are held every Wednesday from 7.45pm-8.30pm.

Another health challenge partner is PJs Health and Fitness Village.

Owner Kathryn Cooke said: “We want to congratulate people who are already doing some exercise and make things as easy as possible for others.

“We are looking at starting a new fitness yoga class which is perfect for beginners. Other suggestions for beginners are power stretch and relaxation class, pilates and core stability, bodytone and legs, bums and tums.

“In the gym, of course, everyone has tailored individual programmes, so it is accessible and beneficial to all, even if they have medical problems.”

PJs’ client Keri McAnulla, who is pregnant with her fourth child, has already felt the benefits.

“In October 2012, I decided it was time to get fit and lose weight after having three children in five years and never having time to do any exercise,” she said.

“I initially only went in to PJs for information but was persuaded to join there and then - and I’m glad I did! I started with the gym and then began adding different classes. I now try and alternate going to the gym with classes. I have also recently joined the slimming club, which is further helping me to lose weight.”

For more information visit

Another key partner is Spen Pool and Fitness Complex which runs daily walking/jogging sessions on the running track; streetbikes cycle sessions on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; nordic walking on Tuesdays and a walk on the Greenway every Wednesday. For more information visit

Let the Great Spen Valley Health Challenge know what you are doing, tweet @spenhealth.