As part of Fusion Lifestyle and the London Borough of Hounslow´s Outdoor Gym programme, Ad-lib training recently put on a number of Physical Activity Peer Activator training courses for volunteers.

The aim of the training is to enable volunteers to induct and safely supervise exercise and activity sessions including walking, outdoor gym and indoor circuits. The volunteers are able to support behaviour change via conversation based interventions and help people adopt a healthier and more active lifestyle. Zillah attended the training and Ad-lib training spent the afternoon with her, talking about volunteering in her local community promoting physical activity.

Zillah shares all..

Can you give us a quick overview about yourself?

In a nutshell I worked for 20 years in luxury retail.  I decided to take a year out to travel the world with my husband. I returned with an odd sensation in my left leg, which turned out to be an early indication that my disc between L5&L4 had degenerated. After spine surgery in September 2015, it took longer to recover than expected and created chronic pain in my right leg. Returning to work for a short while, sadly my position was made redundant in November 2016.

Exercise has been my constant companion since the beginning of 2017, getting me through low moods, maintaining chronic pain and a fun gym social life. 

Describe what your role is as a volunteer at Hanworth AirPark

My role at Hanworth Air Park is to spend at least an hour a week at the Outdoor Gym. Engaging with regular active visitors and potential visitors that walk by. I give them tips on warming up, cooling down, how to use the equipment safely, different ways to get active and how to build up strength.

How long have you been volunteering for?

I have volunteered since August 2017 once a week.  Through October I have been trying to visit twice or three times a week at different times of the day.

What attracted you to the opportunity with Fusion Lifestyle and to instruct on TGOGC equipment?

After benefiting from getting active myself, for physical and mental heath, I wanted to get involved in the community.  I want to give folk the boost they might need and engage more in the science of exercise. I spotted the Gym Activator role within Hounslow Borough, ran by Fusion and went for it.

How was the training day with Robin from Ad-Lib?  We heard it was a very wet day!

The training with Robin from Ad-Lib training was easy to understand, gave a great basic training to engage with the community and enough confidence to be familiar with the outdoor gym equipment. For me personally, it gave me the boost I needed to confirm I wanted to career change into Health & wellbeing. 

Three words to describe your experience so far.

Engaging, Entertaining & Understanding.

What do you enjoy most out of volunteering? What motivates you?

I enjoy the interaction with the various members of the community. Hearing their advice on how to keep active. Listening to life stories that are very humbling. 

What challenges do you face volunteering?

My biggest challenge is having support & advertising the great free sessions.

Who do you try target when volunteering in the community?

I try to target anyone that looks my way when walking past the outdoor gym... but mainly older community members, that might benefit from a 10min daily active routine.

Give some examples of the most satisfying experiences volunteering has given you.

Listening to the community members struggles in life, from death to addiction, and how the daily routine of being active outdoors has benefited them. People are so open with someone they have just met.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of volunteering?

Get trained, enjoy what you are volunteering in and be a great listener.

What personal qualities do you think it is essential for a volunteer to have?

Staying calm, be fun, listening and try to only give advice about being active. 

How important is support for a volunteer?

Support is very important, otherwise it feels as if you are the only one who seems to care. 

If you were advising someone who is still nervous about trying out physical activity, what would you say?

The very act of leaving the house and walking to the outdoor gym is a perfect start. Start by just doing 10mins a week and see how you build from there.

What does exercise mean to you?

Exercise is an escape; me time and gives me the ability to switch off. It manages my chronic pain & being outdoors is very calming. I have now got myself into a life long habit, as I would like to be fit for the future.

What does community mean to you?

In built up urban areas, the sense of community has gone. I wanted to be more involved but didn't know how. Being an Outdoor Gym Activator has given me that start and I hope to get more involved in the future.

What is your favourite training method?

My favourite is a combination of Pilates, weight training and aqua. Low impact exercise, with long term benefits.

Tell us something we don’t know about you?

I climbed the Inca Trail and have a massive passion for art, especially printmaking.

What is next for you on this journey?

Volunteering to get older community members in the borough of Hammersmith & Fulham active. Getting a part time job within the gym environment and hopefully studying in the Health & Science of Exercise.


Where to find Zillah?

Hanworth Air Park


Want to train up volunteers to promote health and fitness in your community?

Contact Ad-Lib Training today