When Nailsea Active first launched in 2020 as a Facebook platform, it began life with 200 members. Today, after celebrating its first anniversary on June 8, the group has blossomed to more than 1800 members. “It’s growing daily,” said founder Glen Schmidt, adding that up to 20 new members join every week.

With its roots in the first lockdown of the pandemic, Nailsea Active arose out of a desire to help people become physically and mentally active at a time when they were unable to visit a gym or take part in group sporting events, as well as to help promote groups in the community. “As a massage therapist myself, I got shut down in lockdown,” said Glen. “I know a lot of personal trainers and gyms, and I also wanted to help them, so that when lockdown ended, they would have a presence and a platform for sharing about what they were doing. The idea was to tell us so we can tell everyone else, to make it an interactive experience, showing the community doing amazing things, and a place to also inspire people.”

Due to restrictions, the group had to come up with unique ideas for how to get active without meeting up in person. This ushered in a rafter of virtual challenges, with Selfie Bingo among them. “We built up a bingo card of places in Nailsea,” said Glen. “People had to find them and take a photo of themselves there and post to the group. It was great fun and participants felt they were part of something.”

Other highlights included the Land’s End to John O’Groats (LEJOG) challenge, which saw participants getting active locally and logging distances they covered daily, with the aim of totting up the total to match the equivalent of a trip from the tip of the country to the bottom. Participation was so great that three times the distance was covered, and the success of the LEJOG Challenge spawned others, such as Route 66, a virtual 3000-mile trip across America, and then the Trans-Siberian Express challenge of more than 5000 miles.

“We’re always looking to find more ways to get people active in our community,” said Glen. “The pandemic may have started Nailsea Active but it hasn’t finished it. It is here to stay.”