Director of Sport, Exercise and Health, Matt Birch, celebrates the opening of the refurbished Indoor Sports Centre on World Mental Health Day, 10 October 2018.
For some time now, I’ve been aware that our Indoor Sports Centre on Tyndall Avenue has been in desperate need of refurbishment. Staff and students alike have told us they want a bigger and better gym, increased class capacity, improved changing facilities and faster access.
Two years ago, as part of the development of our new University Strategy, we decided to invest in our facilities and services on Tyndall Avenue to help create a new “heart” to our Clifton campus. Since then, we’ve invested £4.9m in upgrading the Indoor Sports Centre, improving it considerably and making it more appealing to a broader range of people. We’ve put in state-of-the art equipment, increased gym capacity by a third and our timetable now has over 100 classes every week. I am really proud to be at the forefront of the positive changes in Campus Heart and building our community of students and staff right in the centre of our university.
The newly refurbished Indoor Sports Centre officially opens on World Mental Health Day (WMHD), 10 October 2018 and this was an important choice for us. The theme for WMHD this year is young people and mental health in a changing world, which seems timely as our students return. We know that physical activity in any form is a great way for our staff and students to stay healthy as well as improving mental wellbeing. For first year students in particular, taking part in sport and physical exercise can be a great way to develop a social and friendship network and manage the transition from home to university life.
The strategic priority for the Sport, Exercise and Health division is to drive participation in physical activity, but what really drives me, and my team, is developing an inclusive sporting community that supports long term engagement. In fact, the design of our new sports centre is centred around inclusivity – there are big glass panes because we want to be visible, reach out and invite people in. Our message is ‘We Are Bristol’ and if you are interested in getting fitter and looking after your mental health, sign up to a new class, join a club or take out a membership and we’re sure that you’ll meet like-minded people and have fun.
One observation I hear from staff is that you don’t want to exercise with your students; ‘Fair point’! But there are quieter times in the gym which can be accessed via an off-peak membership and there’s a range of daily fitness classes and several staff social groups, in a variety of sports, most lunchtimes. We are confident that whoever you are, whatever you’re into, there will be something here for you – and as an added incentive we’ve waived our joining fees on 10 October to coincide with our opening.
Another light we’ve hidden under a bushel is our Sports Medicine Clinic, with a team of highly qualified physiotherapists, osteopaths and masseurs offering a high-quality service for our community at very reasonable prices. So, if you need to see a physio, just book in a session and come and see us.
To celebrate our official opening on 10 October our doors will be wide open to everyone from 10am-12.00pm. Sign up to a free 90 minute mass participation exercise class in the Sports Hall from 10.30am – 12.00pm; or take part in a workshop with print artist Fandangoe Kid to explore how belonging and physical activity can support better mental health. Wellbeing advisors will be on hand with advice and information about where to get support. My team and I look forward to showing you around.