The Free Your Fitness scheme was introduced to increase participation in sports ©SPORTBU

The Free Your Fitness scheme was introduced to increase participation in sports ©SPORTBU

The ‘Free Your Fitness’ project offers students and staff from BU and AUB the opportunity to participate in up to 25 different sports and activities either free or heavily reduced in cost.

The project, which started in August 2011 and will be running until July 2014, is funded by Sport England and run as part of SportBU.

The 2013-14 academic year has seen the launch of three new sports within ‘Free Your Fitness’ - Handball, Snowboarding and Skiing.

Having only started in October 2013, 28 students travelled to London to represent the University in the final of the National Qualifiers Handball tournament (see page 19). ‘Free Your Fitness’ Sports Activator Chris Payne said: “We had 28 students competing in the tournament which is a fantastic achievement considering we didn’t play handball four months ago.”

The squad are lucky enough to be supported in their coaching by London 2012 handball player John Pearce.

BU student and handball participant Adam Samuel said: “A friend on my course encouraged me to turn up. It’s a mix of rugby, basketball and football - you just chuck yourself around and have a good time.”

A group of 104 students and staff have participated in snow sports through a mixture of tasters and six-week blocks of lessons. The sessions take place at Snowtrax in Christchurch, easily accessible for students and staff from the Talbot Campus.

Enni Hanninen, Member of BU Snow Riders said: “The sessions were very good preparation for the Christmas ski trip and mean I won’t have to spend time and money to learn the basics now.”

Surfing is another popular ‘Free Your Fitness’ activity with students and staff keen to take advantage of Bournemouth’s fantastic coastline. The session take place at Surf Steps on Boscombe Beach and so far 73 students have got involved. One such student is Gemma Kingshott who studies TV Production: “The taster session was a great experience to try something new and make the most of the beach. It was quite tiring, but thoroughly enjoyable.”

Payne summarised: “Beach sports and alternative sports have been very successful over the course of the last two and a half years of the ‘Free Your Fitness’ Project. Surf Steps, Easy Riders, Snowtrax and Buddy’s Travel have all actively contributed to this success and the Sport England Active Universities Funding is what has made these opportunities possible for students.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed managing the project and would hope that such sports can continue at a participation level here at Bournemouth University.”