Ollie Little said it first, self-deprecatingly describing himself as doing an impersonation of Joe Wicks.
Whilst ‘PE with Joe’ was a hit of the spring COVID-19 lockdown, Ollie’s own version at Fitzwilliam has grown steadily in Michaelmas Term to become a full College society.
Ollie (MML 2017) has launched Fitz Pump, with the aim of supporting students to exercise and meet their own fitness targets. Ollie has run circuit training sessions, strength sessions in the College Gym, and now has masterminded an equipment loan system to allow individuals to train during lockdown.
An absence from group sport, following an anterior cruciate knee ligament injury incurred playing rugby, prompted Ollie to set up Fitz Pump, initially with an exploratory email.
“I floated the idea by email and got 10 responses. Initially we met up in groups of six, worked out socially distanced at the park at Eddington (north west of the College site),” says Ollie, who also enjoys powerlifting.
“Three weeks later 10 had become 50. Fifty soon become 65, and then lockdown hit.
“With lockdown, and the loaning equipment out system, it’s become 130, which is something like a third of undergraduates.”
COVID-19 restrictions on group numbers, and protocols in College, proved a surmountable challenge, and then, when the gym was closed earlier this month, Ollie received support from JCR Sports and Societies President Jake Marshall to persuade Fitz’s Junior Members Association to fund equipment purchases.
“Initially I suggested to Fitz JMA that the gym equipment could be loaned out, but that wasn’t possible,” Ollie, pictured below, adds.
“However, the JMA recognised the importance of gym equipment in lockdown would help people a lot, and I told them how many people were interested – it was about 70 at that stage – and they were willing to give me some funds to buy some equipment and loan it out.
“The numbers doubled, and they were happy to double the budget, which is incredibly generous of them, and I’m ridiculously grateful.
“They said ‘we want to make Fitz students happy’, and now we have a weekly equipment rent system, done COVID securely, with sanitised equipment, social distancing in the queue, and you can rent all sorts of things.”
Dumb bells, medicine balls, kettle bells, resistance bands, yoga balls, and other equipment is available to use – without a deposit, based on trust – and the scheme is likely to be continued post lockdown.
Fitz Pump now has a five-strong committee, and Ollie’s hope is that when he graduates next summer, it will continue.
“I created it to help people, and also to help me to exercise as part of a group. I didn’t expect it to become what it is now,” he says.
“Now, the fulfilment I take from helping people, and knowing that however tough this situation is, Fitz Pump is making it a little bit better, I hope that can be experienced by whoever carries it on next year.”