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Learn from the best

April 06 2022 6 min read

Taking your first running steps under the watchful eye of England international standard coaches is the stuff of dreams, but for one lucky group in Bristol, it’s very much a reality.

Thanks to England Athletics, Fitness First in Bristol has joined forces with Bristol and West Athletic Club to not only learn from the best but experience some of the amazing expertise and experience the club has to offer. And better, it’s free to Fitness First members!

It’s a nationwide programme that works superbly both ways. Not only will members benefit from the knowledge athletics clubs can provide, equally the up and coming superstars of tomorrow can learn from the specific strength knowledge a Fitness First coach has.

"Successful athletes are robust athletes," says Rich Ayling, an England Athletics Club Support manager. “And by using the facilities supplied, they can work on the strength and mobility you need to be a runner.”

But this programme is very much about sharing knowledge. Keith Brackstone of Bristol and West Athletics Club explains: “The club has some very experienced coaches with experience of coaching international athletes and they have offered to run workshops in Fitness First and to support the Fitness First run leaders as they qualify.” It’s not an exaggeration to say it’s like Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho loaning out a few of his coaching staff once or twice a week to make sure everybody locally can benefit from the amazing sporting knowledge his expert team have gathered over the years. Members are even invited to join in at the local track in specially organised training sessions to experience every level running can provide, from easy efforts on the road to pace workouts on the track.


Instructors at the gym learn first-hand from the running coaches, all of whom have passed England Athletics’ coaching badges, while the workshops provide the opportunity for Fitness First club members to ask questions and get training programmes developed for their own specific needs.

“It’s proving really successful,” says Russell Payne a Fitness First General Manager. “Our team are really benefitting from the club’s expertise and we’ve found athletics club members are really excited to be involved with us.”

In fact, local athletes nationwide will gain benefit from the excellent facilities and back-up Fitness First can provide as part of EA’s programme to create stronger athletes.

It’s very much a professional package and in addition to the coaching, runners will benefit from gait analysis, bra fittings and be given the opportunity to try new products.


Of course, it’s always good to put all these new-found skills into practice, so Fitness First has also called on Bristol & West’s expertise to organise a race series.

It’s still in the final planning stages but it will be a 5km monthly event, run nine times a year. Runners from local clubs, the local community as well as the members of the gym will be able to take part in this.

Keith says plans include refreshments in the cafe post-race for volunteers and vouchers for prizes.

Fitness First staff members are particularly excited by the venture as it provides them with a firsthand opportunity to further their coaching expertise through the England Athletics coaching programme which will host course in Bristol on March 25.