With 60% of its landscape classed as rural and in some cases isolated, it's not surprising that Conwy County Borough Council needed to think outside of the box when looking to provide easy access to sports opportunities for all.
Rather than asking residents to travel to sport, the Ffit Conwy Rural Fitness programme now takes sport and physical activity right out into the nooks and crannies of the beautiful North Wales countryside, and it's having a profound impact on the local communities.
Rural Leisure Officer, Tim Ballam comments:
"We knew that there were many people in communities across Conwy that for a number of reasons could not, or did not feel comfortable accessing sport and leisure opportunities at our traditional centres."
The programme started with a surgery explaining the importance of keeping active as part of a healthy lifestyle. Following on from the surgery, demand for more localised physical activity options was high, so Tim and the team at Conwy took actions to fill the gaps.
"Through going out and talking with people in the communities, we found that there were many barriers stopping people from participating in sport and physical activity - we put a plan in action to address them.
From not being able to travel due to age, disability or lack of means, to wanting to participate with other Welsh speakers- the team quickly built a picture of what they needed to offer.
"We had a 'man on the ground' who was able to help us form quick relationships with the communities, which meant that we could offer sessions that met demand and also offered a more personalised and 'friendly' option. We offered something that didn't require the build-up of confidence that maybe starting a new gym would.
"We now see those who would never have travelled to our traditional centres becoming regular 'hooked' participants alongside others who attend while still keeping up their normal club sport or gym habits. In both cases it's great to see we're serving a purpose."
Five years after an initial pilot, they now see 400 regular participants returning to sessions every week.
The Ffit Conwy Rural Fitness programme now runs via a membership scheme offering sessions such as studio cycling, Pilates and boxercise in various community settings including church halls, community centres, school halls and playing fields.
The programme has gone from strength to strength, complementing the offer from other Conwy Sport and Leisure programmes and also private clubs and gyms across the county. It has reached out to rural residents on more than just a location and convenience level and is for many of its regular participants at the heart of their community, offering a more active and social lifestyle.
This story supports the following 2026 objectives:
Get 75% of young people and young adults hooked on sport