RotherSteps 2020 Project

By Rob Gooding, Community Organiser

The Rothersteps 2020 project was rolled out over the four areas – Dinnington, Ferham and Masbrough, East Dene and East Herringthorpe. It was created to combat boredom and increase fitness over the lockdown period. Rothersteps aimed to encourage participants to count the steps they took over a week using the Fitbit style fitness watches we provided. Everybody that entered the project was given a RotherFed water bottle and a fitness watch to count their steps. The participants were added to their area specific group and invited to join their area Rothersteps’ Facebook group. The project proved to be a great success attracting over 100 people wanting to take part, the main area of participation was Dinnington which attracted 45 participants and several more were added to a waiting list.

As part of the sign up process we asked people why they wanted to take part here are a few of the responses we received:

‘I would like to take part because I am type 1 diabetic, I would like to get fitter due to health and I also have Rheumatoid Arthritis. I do work full time and on my feet a lot (support adults with LD) but never seem to do enough walking so it will be a personal achievement if I can increase my daily movement.’

‘My personal goal is that I’m training to go into NASA and I want to get fit and I’m taking part because it’s a good way to get fit while you’re trying something new sending photos of the step count of the end of each week.’

‘Target 5000 a day. I’m physically disabled and suffer from HEDS and fibromyalgia and have mega issues with my knee and having to have had shield during lockdown and has made me gain weight and I would like to lose some to relieve stress on knees and become more active with my nearly 4 year old who loves walks down the canal.’

The project ran over 4 weeks and each week participants were expected to enter their weekly step count. Out of the 100 watches we gave out 30 participants entered their step counts in the first week. Several of participants who did not enter their step counts the first week had initial problems getting the units to charge and syncing them to their phones. This problem was overcome by RotherFed posting YouTube tutorials on the sites and talking people though the process of setting them up. Despite these issues, the groups managed to rack up a massive 1,863,725 steps for the first week. We worked out this would have taken us from Land’s End almost to John Ogroats. The figures (number of steps and participants) grew over the following weeks with the highest recorded steps being 2,075,589 steps in a week.

Over the four weeks the groups racked up a staggering 6,426,767 steps that is equal to 6,426 km in a month. That would have got us close to New Delhi from Rotherham. The overall winner racked up a very impressive 578,901 over the four weeks and won the prize. To ensure that people did not feel discourage if they were not close to winning (walking the most steps), it was decided that a winner was drawn at random from everybody that entered steps for each area. This kept people engaged in the project and improve their own fitness goals at their own pace.

Talking with the groups after the competition had ended, we keep the Facebook groups available so that people could continue to virtually support each other. We also decided to work with the Dinnington boxing group, to deliver zoom fitness sessions and keep the groups engaging in exercise as we continue with the pandemic.

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