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Local Community Hero – Chris

Here is another brilliant Southampton hero, Chris Bartlett. Chris is currently taking part in the Riverside Park couch to 5k session. Since signing up to the popular, free beginners run programme, Chris has recently joined the gym at Bitterne Leisure Centre and is eyeing up more ParkLives sessions over spring!

One of the best things about being part of the Active Communities team is witnessing first hand how our activities can improve people’s lives. It can sometimes be a huge oversight when sports companies target people who already have a high level of fitness, forgetting that there is an army of people out there that want to start a sport but may be lacking in confidence when it comes to joining a group. This is why our ParkLives programme is such an important part of our commitment to providing activities to the local community.

This month we are focusing on one of our community participants. Chris first heard about ParkLives from his mum, Amanda, who spotted a flyer about our free activities at Bitterne Leisure Centre. Chris looked up the website online and decided to sign up. The Cto5k course is his first venture into the world of ParkLives but he does have his eye on a few others once he has advanced a little more with his running. Being a keen American Football fan, Chris will soon be trying our brilliant flag football sessions at the Outdoor Sports Centre on Sunday lunchtimes.

It is always interesting to find out why people decide to close the door to the warm, cosy home behind them and rock up to a cold, dark park to run around for an hour. According to Chris this was brought on by finding out that his wife was pregnant and he felt that an improvement in his fitness would definitely help with this new chapter in his life. It may have been a shock to the system but Chris has been pleasantly surprised with his progress and what he has already managed to achieve with a little friendly encouragement from the group, and the session leaders.

Would he recommend it though? Chris nods in agreement, adding that the Riverside Park Cto5k session is a good group of people that are all in the same boat. They are encouraged to go at their own pace and he recommends that anyone that has been a little intimidated from joining other groups in the past should definitely give it a go.


We are so proud of Chris because he has not only taken the first big step into becoming more active by signing up to the couch to 5k ParkLives session, he has signed up to the gym at Bitterne Leisure Centre. This shows how dedicated he is to becoming a healthy new dad. Chris has started his new gym bunny life by working on his cardio on the treadmills but we are sure it won’t be long before he starts priming those guns on the free weights! Chris also enjoys swimming in the pool with his wife (who is a fan of the Aquafit sessions too!) We hope he likes the Active Nation gym bag, towel and bottle combo we gave him today – he seems very happy with it!

What’s next for Chris? He tells us that there are still plenty of activities for him to have a look at on the ParkLives timetable but hints that some more on the Bitterne side of the water would go down very well!

Our Cto5k courses run throughout the year and take place in several different Southampton parks. They are perfect for people who want to achieve the goal of running 5k at a comfortable pace within 10 weeks.

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