GoodGym & Katie Lees Story

Rachel Atherton

This week is Mental Health Awareness week (18th – 24th May), and theme is focusing on kindness.

Here in Leeds there is so much good work taking place to help support us look after our mental health, but one organisation who are capturing the theme of kindness, mental health and running all together as one is GoodGym!

For those that don’t know GoodGym helps you get fit by doing good. They are a group of runners that combines regular exercise with helping our communities.

GoodGym Leeds Participants

Katie Lees is a regular at GoodGym in Leeds, and has shared her experiences with us.


“When I first started going to GoodGym group runs I had just started a new job and was living alone. I often found myself feeling anxious and lonely, so I knew I needed to do something that would hopefully tackle both of these things. Something that would stop my wallowing in front of the TV, and help me meet new people. A friend in Bristol had recommended GoodGym, so when I saw it was launching in Leeds I thought I’d give it a go. From the first session everyone was incredibly friendly. I left the first group run feeling energised, and with a confidence boost about my running ability. Though I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was so great, I kept coming back. GoodGym quickly become an essential part of my week.

GoodGym has become so important to me and has honestly improved my mental health. Here are a couple of ways I think GoodGym has helped me:

GoodGym Leeds Participants

1. Shared Purpose

I  have never met a group of people who are so proactive and willing to get stuck in (sometimes literally) to a task. I love having a specific task to complete with other people. It gives me something to focus my energy on, and a sense of social fulfilment as I work in a team with others to get the job done. (It’s also 2-3 hours where I don’t look at my phone)


2. Sense of achievement

When I’m feeling low or just not having a great week, it always gives me boost to know that at least I’ve accomplished something good with GoodGym.


3. Community

On group runs, we don’t really focus on running fast or far, which means we get chance to talk to each other. Everyone is incredibly friendly, and no matter who I end up running with, I always have a great conversation. These chats often continue whilst we’re doing the task and at the pub afterwards. 8 months in, these opportunities to chat and get to know each other has meant we’ve built a great community of runners. The sense of belonging this gives me is invaluable.


There are so many other ways GoodGym has helped my mental health, but some of them I find difficult to put into words. Before the lockdown, my mental health was the best it had been in years and I think GoodGym has massively contributed to that. And I haven’t even talked about how much more I’m running since I started GoodGym, which is really important to balance my mood.

Even now, when we can’t see each other in person, GoodGym Leeds have kept me going during lockdown. We are still socialising virtually, which has been a great way to check in and look out for each other. Also, weekly challenges set by Trainer Aron are a fun way of changing up my running as well as helping me to push myself to improve. The fact that we’ve all stayed in touch during lockdown has demonstrated what a great group of people GoodGym Leeds is, and I can’t wait to run with them all again soon.”


To find out more about GoodGym, and for information on how to join them you can visit their website here: 



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