So popular have the street workout routines of Elyse Blemmings become in these times of enforced idleness that some of the neighbours are also meeting new friends amongst all the bending and stretching.
“It’s brought back, I suppose, what everyone’s feeling, a big sense of community spirit,” she said.
Blemmings, 31, was used to streaming her workout sessions online, but after neighbours spotted her doing her fitness routine in Chigwell, she decided to share her motivational talents closer to home.
Originally from the northern city of Manchester – hence the “Mancunian” name – Blemmings said that as well as the benefits of physical exercise, her sessions in the street helped to build social links in the community in a time of social distancing, and were bringing different generations together.
“They know they’re going to get their heart rate lifted, they’re going to have some endorphins and they’re going to go back in their house and say ‘I feel better today’ rather than just going through the same monotonous routine,” she said.
Britain has been under lockdown since March 23, and police have been given the power to enforce social distancing rules. On Thursday, the government extended those restrictions for another three weeks at least.
But for Blemmings’ neighbours in Chigwell, the fitness sessions have been an unexpected highlight of the lockdown.
After starting out with two sessions last week, Blemmings said she wants to keep them up for as long as they are wanted. Children as young as 5 took part in the session, with older neighbours joining in.