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CASE STUDY – Norris Construction Group

Are you looking for ways to make your workplace more active?

Check out our most recent case study of a Geelong-based business who is having a positive impact on the lives of their employees by advocating the importance of physical activity.

CASE STUDY – Norris Construction Group

Industry: Construction

Employees: 220

Location: South Geelong

This company developed a relationship with a Geelong fitness group to provide their employees with free use of an on-site gymnasium by transforming an empty facility at their head office.

It’s not surprising what research tells us about people’s gym habits.

When it comes to the question of why many of us don’t go to the gym as often as we’d like to (if at all), one consistent theme emerges.

“I just don’t have the time”.

That is a popular response evident in many surveys conducted on the subject – and we can all relate to it.

For many people, finding the time in the morning to pack a bag, travel to the gym, work out, have a shower, get ready for work and then head into the office can be challenging.

At the other end of the day, finding the time to go through the same process after work provides a new set of obstacles.

 But what would happen if the gym came to your workplace?

One Geelong business decided to find out.

Norris Construction Group – a civil construction company with expertise in large-scale commercial projects – has an on-site gymnasium on its premises in Gravel Pitts Road, South Geelong.

The facility was originally a large empty shed, however the company transformed the space into a fitness centre by partnering with O’Malley Fitness, a well-known Geelong fitness group who now occupy the site and provide all the equipment.

As part of this unique relationship, employees of Norris Construction Group are able to access this on-site gym for free – a membership that includes the use of all equipment, free personal training sessions and free group fitness classes.

Eve Coates, an employee at Norris Construction Group, said the on-site gymnasium was part of a wellbeing program aimed at improving the physical and mental health of its 220 employees.

“Our industry can be demanding and we work long, hard hours – so the importance of offering a place where employees can go to boost their health and fitness is really important to us as an organisation,” Eve said.

This is the kind of progressive thinking many businesses are starting to develop as they begin to recognise and prioritise the importance of their employees leading more active lifestyles – and the role the employer can play in encouraging the employee.

It demonstrates a shared goal, and the benefits are mutual.

“We have seen great team building, productivity and a general wellbeing of people, especially during the more stressful times when everyone needs an outlet,” Eve said.

The company has also found that the innovative wellbeing program has become a selling point to potential employees.

“We feel like we have increased our employee engagement and satisfaction – and the gym has been a great offering to new talent when recruiting,” Eve said.

The uptake has justified the company’s decision to invest in their people, with feedback showing a genuine gratitude among employees.

“We have teams heading over to the gym at lunch for group PT’s or partner workouts, which is fantastic for team building and stress relief in the middle of the day,’ Eve reveals.

“A lot of our guys use it first-up in the morning before starting their day in the office or on-site. They really do feel lucky to have a facility like this at their head office.”

Some employees were quicker than others to see how they could use the facility to make a positive behaviour change.

“Encouraging people who have never used a gym before has been a small barrier,” Eve acknowledges.

“So we have offered these people a specially-tailored 1-on-1 session with a personal trainer – just to help them get familiar and learn the basics.

“We find it can take away any intimidation factor that might be there.”

The company has even begun running friendly competitions among employees to increase motivation, such as a 30-day fitness challenge completed last September.

“Each employee had to engage in a minimum 60 minutes of exercise a day for 30 days and log it via an app to prove they had completed their hour each day,” Eve said.

“It was great for everyone’s fitness and also for group morale. It was great to see a bit of banter between everyone who participated.”

Do you know of an active workplace in Geelong? If so, we would love to hear from you – contact us at so we can spotlight more organisations who are joining our city’s growing movement movement.

Being Active at Home

Written by Accredited Exercise Physiologist Jace Kelly, from Core health Group

and Yvette Denning, Active Geelong project coordinator.

 Being active at home can be a challenge, but with a bit of creativity and a little bit of help from Active Geelong we know you can find lots of ways to keep moving.

Why is being active important?

Apart from the usual health benefits of regular physical activity, such as improved cardiovascular health and increased bone strength, research has shown that exercise can support our immune system. This is important for keeping healthy during this pandemic and during the cold and flu season. We also know that exercise is proven way to maintain and improve our mental health, a critical part of our overall health that we need to manage well during this crisis.

Despite knowing the physical, mental and immune boosting health benefits of physical activity, it can be the first thing we ignore in times of crisis. As we are generally more sedentary at the moment, it is even more important to plan your day to include some type of physical activity each day to maintain your physical and mental health.

For Those Who Are Already Active

Making the decision to maintain your regular levels of physical activity is a great place to start for those who were active pre-COVID-19. But be kind on yourself, if you were training for a marathon, but you now have to home school your children or you need to self-isolate, then re-set your goals to suit.

  • Runners, cyclists & walkers. Keep up your usual distances and time, especially if you used your feet or wheels to get to work. If you can’t go outdoors then consider renting or buying a treadmill or cycle trainer. For joggers and walkers using a resistance band around your waist, and attached to something solid, allows you to run on the spot but with resistance. Don’t forget apps like Strava or Map My Run are great motivational tools too.
  • Gyms & personal training. Many gyms and personal trainers (PT) have online classes to service their members. Talk to your gym or PT to see what they have on offer before you cancel your membership. Get yourself some home equipment (from Kmart to Rebel sport to your local secondhand page there’s a range of places to buy or rent equipment) or look around at what you can use in your home. At the very least body weight exercises will maintain your health. Try online programs like 28 by Sam Wood  or Tiff Hall or Google “Free online weight training” and see what suits you.
  • Yoga and Pilates. Once again contact your provider to see what they have on offer for members. A quick You Tube search reveals a host of online classes you can access in your own time. We like Down Dog for yoga.
  • Sport. Practice your skills at home. Check out Sport Australia to find out if  your sporting body has home training regimes for example Athletics Australia is developing a Virtual Stadium.  Apps are another way to gamify your practice – try Home Court for basketball.

If You’re New to Exercise

Staying Safe

It is always good to check with your doctor before you start a new exercise program. During the pandemic you can call your medical clinic and find out the best way to talk with your doctor. Most clinics are offering telehealth services (over the phone or video call). So, speak to your GP and check that you are safe to begin.

Remember that general home exercise programs or general physical activity advice are not designed to treat injuries or medical conditions. If you do have an existing injury or condition, please speak to your doctor or book an appointment with an Exercise Physiologist or Physiotherapist for personalised advice.

Keep personal safety in mind when you are being physically active, as you can cause injury from additional stress on our systems, joints and muscles. Never exercise or move through any form of pain. Movements in a general physical activity program should not cause pain so if you do feel pain stop, readjust or modify your movement until you can do it pain free.

How To Pace Yourself

  • Always warm up and cool down. This simply means ease yourself into and out of the movements you plan to do. So, if you’re going for a walk, start and end at a slow pace. Or if you are doing exercises, then start and end with slow and controlled movements or stretches.
  • Slow and steady. It is much better for your body to gradually build up your tolerance to physical activity. You can pace yourself using the time, distance or amount of physical activity you do. For example, do each exercise for 20 seconds and increase it each session by 10 seconds. You might start with one walk around the block and increase every week. Or you might count the amount of bench top push-ups you do starting with five and adding an extra one each time.
  • How hard are you working? Thinking about how you feel when you are being physically active is a great way to make sure you are exercising at a level that will improve your health and fitness. Use a guide like “The Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE)” and aim to work at a 4-6 level if you are new to exercise.
  • Rest Up. Don’t forget to include rest breaks. This is time to “catch your breath” before starting the next exercise. Listen to your body and rest when you need to and be mindful of being having enough energy to do your other daily activities. Of course, over time, if you keep being physically active your ability to do more in your day will increase as you become fitter and stronger.
  • Recover. Re-hydrate after physical activity by drinking water during and after your session. You may experience muscle soreness after starting a new exercise program which is normal. A good strategy is to alternate days of physical activity to allow your muscles and joints time to recover.

It’s a good idea to record the physical activity that you are doing to help maintain motivation and to help you pace yourself. Try using the Active Geelong Physical Activity recording Sheet.

 Where to go for help

If you’re stuck for ideas on how to start being more physically active here are some good options to get your going:

  • Walk. If you can’t leave your home then walk around your house, your backyard or even to the letter box and back. Otherwise get outside at least once a day for a walk. Victoria Walks is a great resource for all things walking.
  • Move @ home. Follow the “how to pace yourself” guide above and get moving in your home by following our Active Geelong Home Exercise Circuit:

Active at Home Exercise Program – Level 1

Active at Home Exercise Program – Level 2

 Alternatively, there are lots of reputable organisations that are releasing home exercise programs or ideas for free online for beginners to exercise:


“As we move out of those tight restrictions and progress towards life as we used to know it, have you considered how you might transfer those new-found experiences into your normal routine?” – Dr. Hugh Seward

A great read from Active Geelong Chair Dr. Hugh Seward in the Geelong Advertiser 👏🏼

Click here to read the full article.


Healthy Heroes presented by Geelong Cats and GMHBA are offering an inclusive online event for kids and families to join in together on Wednesday the 8th of July at 11AM.

In this event you will be able to participate in some activities that count towards your Healthy Heroes target of 60 minutes physical activity each day. These activities include the energetic Zumba, some centred yoga and to finish off, some calming mindfulness.

So set your reminder, tie up your laces, have your drink bottles full of water and get everyone in your household ready to join in. The event will be released live and available here on the 8th of July at 11AM.

If you happen to be out practicing your goal kicking and you miss the event you can always go to the GeelongCatsTV YouTube channel and click on the Community Playlist.


As Active Geelong begins its #activefamilychallenge, we catch up with a Geelong family of EVERYBODY, EVERY DAY HEROES who are changing their lives for the better through physical activity.

The McKies from Torquay are known to their family and friends as being a very active family.

The clan of five – parents Andy and Sandra, oldest son Jacob, middle daughter Jaime and youngest son Archie – do just about everything you can think of to stay fit.

If ever there was a family that personified Active Geelong’s ‘EVERYBODY, EVERY DAY HEROES’ movement it would be them.

But, in Sandra’s own words, they are “nothing special”.

“I know people’s perception of us as a family,” says Sandra, a keen runner who once finished third in an overseas marathon.

“They say ‘Oh, it’s easy for you guys, look at you, you’re all so fit’,” she adds.

“But I look at us and think – we are just a normal family who is active and healthy.

“We are no different to the next family – they just haven’t started yet.”

Anything you can think of, you can be sure one of the McKies will be doing it: walking, running, bike-riding, swimming, kayaking, triathlons, hiking, Surf-Lifesaving, basketball, AFL, netball, skateboarding, scooting.

“You don’t have to make it this big thing that’s difficult to achieve,” 48-year-old Sandra says.

“You just start off small and build it into your daily routine,” she continues.

“It’s just a habit, that’s all it is. Just like when you wake up and have breakfast every morning, you can get up and do some form of exercise.”

To be in the presence of the McKie family as all five sit around the table and speak passionately about physical activity is inspiring.

Even 10-year-old Archie, who rides his bike to school every day, can articulate eloquently why he loves being so active: “I just do it for the happiness and endorphins,” he says, in an answer that surprises even his parents.

So how does your family become more like this one?

It’s a question that Andy poses during our discussion.

“You almost have to put yourself in the mindset of someone who is not active yet – what is that barrier stopping them? “What unlocks it?” He ponders.

It occurs to Andy to raise this as a topic because, not too long ago, he had asked himself the same question.

“We still struggle some days to get out there and do it – it’s not any easier for us,” the 45-year-old says, with everyone else nodding in agreement.

“I’m in a focus now to get myself fit again because, for a while there, I got myself pretty unfit,” he adds.

“It was like, ‘I’m really focused on my work, I can’t be bothered, or I don’t have the time, or I’ll get to it later.”

“I’ve run marathons, paddled across Bass Strait, all these things, but I still found myself in a pretty unhealthy place.

“So you do ask yourself: ‘how did that happen?”

As Andy begins to think out loud about how he overcame the struggle so many of us are going through now, his son Jacob interjects with a theory.

“What I think motivates people through these events are the people around you,” says, Jacob, a vibrant young athlete who competes at a national level in triathlons and road cycling.

“As a family, I think we helped Dad get motivated again.”

Indeed, the McKies all lean on each other.

The three siblings will often train to together, the oldest one ‘pacing’ the younger one on runs or rides; whether it be 14-year-old Jacob helping 12-year-old Jaime, or Jaime for Archie.

When one of the family members have a competition, marathon or charity event, the entire family act as the ‘support crew’.

It’s in these times that Sandra believes physical activity has actually taught her children some of life’s most valuable lessons, such as “being unselfish” and “giving back to the community”.

“They realise it’s not all about them,” she says.

Sandra and Andy strongly believe physical activity has made their children mature, and when you hear Jaime speak about the mental health benefits of physical exercise, you can see why.

“I like team sports, but I really love going out for a run or a ride and just being with my own thoughts; to clear my head,” Jaime articulates.

For Andy, exercise has brought him closer to all his children.

“From a father’s perspective, that’s bonding time with your daughter,” he says, using an early morning run with Jaime as one example.

“That’s a relationship that we are building over the years. And each time we get up and it’s freezing cold, and you complain to each other, that makes the relationship stronger because you get through it together.”

Many of us have set ourselves a goal to accomplish a certain fitness challenge, only to fall back into the same habits once the goal is no longer there as motivation.

Andy and the rest of the family have been there, too.

“Once you achieve a fitness goal and you come off the other side of it, the question becomes: how do you find the motivation without chasing the next event? How do you build it into your daily lifestyle where you actually just enjoy it for what it is?” Andy asks.

“I went through a phase of my life a few years ago where I had to completely recalibrate my outlook on exercise. I went from chasing an event to a more sustainable, lifestyle or wellbeing outlook to physical activity.”

Again, the answer was family.

“For me, it came down to what kind of life do I want to have as an adult?” Andy says.

“Do I want to be the overweight dad who can’t keep up with his kids?

“Or do I want to be the active parent who’s out there with his kids creating all these memories?”

Indeed, it’s these memories that get passed on, hopefully creating generational change among families.

“We might go to Lorne for a holiday and myself and Andy will go out for a run and I think, for the kids, it’s so nice for them to see mum and dad spend that time together,” Sandra says.

Jacob confirms that it does make a difference.

“For us – the stories we hear about the opportunities that exercise has given our parents – we look at the things they have experienced and think ‘wow, that’s awesome’,” Jacob says.

“And we think, ‘I’d love to feel that euphoria of achieving some of those things.”

In that way, Andy and Sandra believe physical activity is not just an ‘activity’.

It has become one of their family values.

“It’s just like someone wanting to be honest, or trustworthy, you can say to yourself that you want to be someone who is active,” Andy says.

“And when you have it as a value, then you can keep coming back to it.”

While it is possible one or all of the McKie siblings might yet end up pursuing a certain physical activity at an elite level, Sandra and Andy continually stress that it’s not about ‘achieving’ or ‘winning’.

Ultimately, what they really want to pass on is a life-long appreciation of physical activity that will ensure their children can maintain a healthy lifestyle as they face different stages and challenges.

And the fundamental message is simple: physical activity = happiness.

“I know that I could end up obese, or with diabetes, or end up unhealthy and unhappy, and that’s not the life I want to lead,” Andy says.

“At the moment, our kids live it – they are in the habit of it – but eventually they’ll have to decide it for themselves,” he says.

“But the thing they’ll have in their favour is the memories and the joy that it brought them when they were young.”

Sandra completely agrees, adding:

“As I said to you at the start, we are not special. We just know what it feels like to be an active family, and I think when other people feel that – they’ll know how great it can be,” she says.

“It excites me to think that there might be a family who reads this and that our story might be the thing that unlocks it for them.”



As part of Active Geelong’s ‘EVERYBODY, EVERYDAY’ movement to make Geelong the most active city in Australia, we want to spotlight the everyday heroes who are changing their lives for the better through physical activity.

Educating our young people in the new reality of COVID-19 has been challenging for all schools.

Yet it has been uplifting to see so many learning institutions around Geelong push physical education as a priority during this uncertain time, recognising the benefits – both physical and mental – that await students who are prepared to get out and exercise.

Throughout the region, schools have embraced the concept of a virtual running and walking challenge for their students, perhaps replacing the traditional school ‘cross country’ competition that would normally occur at this time of year.

Whether it be pitting House vs House, setting goals for individual students to achieve or a whole-school challenge to collectively ‘run around Australia’, public and private schools have strongly advocated the need for young people to stay active.

One school, Christian College Geelong, have added a different element – extending their call to arms to include the parents and school staff to complete as much exercise as possible during a five-week period called the ‘2020 Virtual RunFest’.

This has encouraged entire families to spend the increased time they have in isolation to complete more exercise – together!

One such family is the Moynahans – our Active Geelong ‘Everybody Everyday’ Heroes for this month.

The family of seven – mother Mel, father Terry, four boys Ethan, Seth, Matty, Joel and sister Naomi – have found that being cooped up at home doesn’t mean you can’t maintain a healthy lifestyle.

As well as logging a daily journal of their runs and walks to register points for their school’s RunFest, the family has enjoyed things like bike-riding, online-led strength exercises, home gym sessions, online ballet classes, pilates and – with some imaginative placement of basketball rings in and out of the house – plenty of hoops.

Each morning begins with a family walk, setting the tone for a day of learning, work and physical activity that is to be embraced, not wasted, by all.

Their story is reflective of greater anecdotal evidence that suggests families have used the COVID-19 isolation period to motivate each other to be more physically active, as it has placed parents and siblings into each other’s daily rhythms and presenting opportunities for exercising together that would have otherwise not existed.

For some families, this has meant they have actually completed more physical activity than they otherwise would have during the months of April and May – given greater flexibility in their work schedule and access to more daylight hours.

Interestingly, there are early reports of a surge in people downloading more exercise-tracking applications and technological devices, and no doubt students competing in virtual physical activity challenges are contributing to this – hopefully setting up habits that will continue even as they return to normal schooling.

Other families, such as the Moynahans, have found inventive ways to replace the exercise they have been unable to pursue, such as organised community sports, because of the COVID restrictions.

Mel says school-based concepts such as virtual running and walking challenges are crucial to assisting students in their learning, as well as the proven health benefits and building a life-long passion for physical activity.

“I have always been a strong believer that working the muscles helps open the brain to learn, because exercise clears the mind and fills the blood with dopamine,” Mel said.

“Our kids all like to stay active, so we have encouraged them to get out whenever they are feeling stuck in their schoolwork – whether it be go for a ride or a walk, or just shoot some hoops to clear their minds,” she said.

“It is very important and it makes a huge difference.”

Do you know someone who is an ‘EVERYBODY, EVERYDAY HERO’? Contact Active Geelong and help us give them the recognition they deserve for trying to make Geelong the Most Active City in Australia!



Active Geelong ambassador, public speaker and Paralympic gold medallist Richard Colman is a man on a mission. Born in 1984 with Spina Bifida, the second most common physical disability behind Cerebral Palsy, and the birth defect affects the spinal cord which in Richard’s case has left him paralysed from the waist down. But that has never stopped Richard, who wants to help people see the possibility in every situation and to believe that they can do anything they set their mind to.

Growing up in Geelong, Richard attended school at The Geelong College and recently completed his Bachelor of Commerce studies at Deakin University.

“I did every single sport I could growing up, I think that’s why I’ve become an athlete because my school was so inclusive and supportive of the community and me being involved. It really did show me back then that yeah, I’m in a wheelchair but I can still be involved in nearly any sport and opportunities.”

Finding his love for athletics at a young age and beginning to compete against other wheel chair athletes, Richard began training hard and striving towards his ultimate goal – winning a Paralympic gold medal, which he eventually did. Winning a gold medal in the men’s 800m T53 at Athens 2004 and London 2012 Paralympic Games, Richard still believes his greatest achievement was winning bronze at the London Games in the 4 x 4 relay, seeing his teammates faces and the joy it brought to everyone.

“I think that bronze medal outdid my gold because we got to do it as a team and achieve our common goal of winning a Paralympic medal.”

His achievements are endless; in 2007 Richard was the first wheelchair AFL goal umpire in the Geelong league, and received a Deakin Young Alumni of the Year Award in 2012 in recognition of his outstanding sporting achievements, particularly wheelchair athletics. Richard also was made a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours for, ‘significant service to sport as a gold medallist at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, and to the community.’

We can’t forget to mention he was the first person in a wheelchair to complete the Death Road in Bolivia, a 64 kilometre track which descends 3500 metres!

With sport being such an important part of Richards life, accepting the opportunity to become an ambassador for Active Geelong was a no-brainer.

“A lot of people with disability aren’t very active and that’s what I want to try to change. There’s so many negative flow on effects if you’re not active, you’re not involved in community, you don’t have those social connections. 20% of our population in Australia have a disability, 40% of those live under the poverty line and 80% don’t meet the recommended physical activity guidelines per week. That’s significant.”

Active Geelong is a collaborative project that brings together leading businesses, doctors, researchers and individuals to address inactivity in the Geelong region. If you or your workplace would like to become Movement Champions and help Geelong become Australia’s most active city head to to sign up!


“As routines go out the window, and normal is no longer normal, you have more reason to plan how to keep active”.

Active Geelong Chair, GP and sport and exercise physician Dr Hugh Seward talks about the importance of keeping active during this time especially if you are now working from home. Click here to read the full article from the Geelong Advertiser.

Keep those bodies moving Geelong!



As we learn to adapt to a new way of living, a personal trainer from Geelong gives us an insight in to how people are staying physically active during the Coronavirus epidemic.

 Challenge demands creativity.

There are only a handful of activities deemed by state governments to be ‘essential’ to everyday living right now – and the need to exercise is one of them.

That means it’s pretty important that people like Ben Dodds find a way to deliver their service to those they help stay physically active.

“Online personal training isn’t new, by any means. But for me, it’s been a pretty big change,” said Ben, a 32-year-old personal trainer, and Active Geelong’s latest EVERYBODY, EVERY DAY HERO.

Up until now, Ben operated his business, ‘Dodds Fitness’, from his base in Highton, helping individuals or small groups break a sweat through face-to-face sessions.

He also took larger groups for multi-week ‘Fit Camps’, using facilities at the South Barwon Football Club.

Now, it all looks much different.

Ben has turned to ‘Zoom’, Facebook or other applications to connect with his clients online, in real time, from their homes.

“Some people use their backyards, or their garage, wherever they can – and they just have me on the screen in front of them,” Ben said.

“I have given away a lot of my gear to clients to keep in their homes,” he said.

Crucially, having clients book in specific times for sessions (rather than watch pre-recorded demonstrations) and having Ben watching and speaking to them in real time, provides the accountability and motivation people thrive on to keep active.

“I like to be able to control their technique and intensity, or answer any questions they might have. You can’t do that by just writing a program.”

Ben has also managed to keep his Fit Camp going for those who have set themselves the goal to increase their physical activity levels and achieve the associated health benefits.

Ben continues to wake up at 6am every morning to perform a live stream for his Fit Camp clients to tune in to.

“But we also make it flexible,” he said.

“Once the stream is over, the video stays up for people to do at a time that’s more convenient for them,” he said.

Ben is happy to report that people have embraced the challenge with him.

“I’ve actually been surprised with how well it’s gone so far,” he said.

“We’ve still got that sense of community and positive vibes going.”

Ben bases his business around good relationships, and he has found that the strong connections people make through fitness are becoming more important than ever.

“Using our groups through social media, it’s keeping everyone connected – which is so important given the situation we’re all in. That sense of community is helping everyone spur each other on to keep it up in this tough time.”

Indeed, challenge can also create opportunities – and Ben’s new way of working has actually brought new faces to his business.

“We had a few people who have got their partners or friends involved who might have otherwise not being able to join in because of work or family commitments,” he said.

In fact, Ben estimates he’s probably ‘the busiest I’ve been at the moment”

“Writing new programs and coming up with different workouts. It’s definitely got my brain ticking as to what is possible.”

That’s great to hear for us at Active Geelong because, as Ben points out, the opposite could so easily be true.

“Most people know that staying active in normal circumstances is important for physical and mental health. But with the situation now, it’s just so crucial,” he said.

“If you have to stay at home all the time, it’s so easy to fall into bad habits – sleeping in, going to bed late, eating junk food or not structuring your meal times. You can fall into a bit of a slump.”

For anyone who might be finding themselves in that slump or heading towards it, Ben has some sound advice.

“The first thing is to find a form of exercise that you enjoy – one that you feel confident you will stick to,” he said.

“It could just be yoga or walking, or it could be something higher intensity – if you have access to some weights, or anything with plyometrics or circuits.

“Find someone to follow on social media – a lot of fitness experts are being very generous with the workouts they are releasing at the moment. 

“And, secondly, try to couple that with some kind of social connection, as best you can.

“Try to encourage a friend to do the same so you can share the experience and talk to each other about it.”

Best of all, Ben says it can be done for free and in your own home.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of people who were hunting in every shop for fitness gear and couldn’t buy it and I just said to them: ‘you don’t need it’,” he said.

“There are plenty of ways to keep fit – it’s just thinking outside the box of what you can do at home.

“The key is to make sure you actually set a time to exercise for that day and use that time to pay attention to yourself.”

Tips for keeping active at home with Dr Hugh Seward

Are you at home and in need of some exercises to keep your body moving? Or are your parents elderly and not getting out as much as they normally would?

Active Geelong Chair, Dr Hugh Seward is here to give some tips on how to work your muscles and keep your body moving. These are also great exercises to do in between work calls when you’re sitting, working from home.


As part of Active Geelong’s ‘EVERYBODY, EVERY DAY’ movement to make Geelong the most active city in Australia, we want to spotlight the everyday heroes who are changing their lives for the better through physical activity.

Elise Getson always wanted to get back into netball – she was just waiting for a push.

The EVERYBODY EVERY DAY HERO that helped her get back onto the court came from an unlikely place – her employer.

Elise works for Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine, and it was the Health and Wellbeing Program her workplace introduce that gave Elise the impetus to start playing again.

The program encourages employees to get more physically active by contributing to the cost of undertaking a new physical activity endeavour.

In Elise’s case, she used the $200 subsidy from her employer to pay for her registration to join a weekly social netball team – as well as a series of Reformer Pilates sessions.

The 31-year-old had not been involved in netball for a long time but played a key role in helping a group of women who didn’t know each other start a new team from scratch.

“It’s a good group of girls,” Elise said.

“It’s about creating a bit of a community, making new friends,” she said.

“I’ve definitely felt the health benefits as well – my cardio fitness is much better – and that comes from doing a different type of exercise that I wouldn’t normally do.”

For jumping on board a great workplace initiative and encouraging others to get more physically active, we at Active Geelong congratulate Elise and the leadership at Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine for being EVERYBODY, EVERY DAY HEROES.

Do you know someone who is an ‘EVERYBODY, EVER YDAY HERO’ when it comes to physical activity? Contact Active Geelong and help us give them the recognition they deserve for trying to make Geelong the Most Active City in Australia!

Active Geelong GP Ambassadors Project

The Active Geelong Ambassador GP’s project saw a network of GP’s from Geelong and the Surf Coast come together to consider how local doctors can take a role in the physical activity of their patients.

While we know it is an effective way of motivating people to be physically active, it can be fraught for a GP to initiate a conversation about physical activity with their patient for a number of reasons. Unfortunately, previous studies offer us little or no evidence of how to help doctors broach the subject if they would actually like to do so.

An initial group of 15 GPs came together for a series of systems thinking workshops to delve deeper into the various reasons why GPs might find it difficult to start these conversations, and identify possible solutions that could make it easier to do so. Together, the GPs identified eight strategies that could serve as conversation-starters – fliers, posters, physical activity prescription pads, and other similar prompts.

In order to work out which (if any) of the eight strategies would work, we designed a Machine Learning study with the help of the Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute (A2I2) at Deakin University Waurn Ponds. The initial group of GPs expanded to 26 doctors, across 13 clinics to test the effectiveness of the ideas.

Over a 10-week study, the Machine Learning algorithm recommended different strategies to be trialled week to week. Every week, results were fed back into the algorithm, which learned in real time about which strategies were performing best.

At the end of the 10-week study, the algorithm found that two strategies were effective: In the first strategy, the patient is handed information about the benefits of physical activity at reception, which they bring into their appointment and discuss with the doctor. In the second strategy, the patient is given a short physical activity questionnaire, which helps create a snapshot of current physical activity levels, which they similarly bring into the appointment.

This study was the first of its kind to combine participatory methods that are effective at quickly generating potential solutions based on the understanding of people who are experiencing the problem, with Machine Learning which is effective for rapidly identifying the best intervention among a set of options that might otherwise take us years to test.

We would like to acknowledge A2I2 and GLOBE from Deakin University, Active Geelong, the Western Victoria PHN and participants whose contributions made this study possible.

An open access journal article describing the study is available.

Case Study – TGGB

Are you looking for ways to make your workplace more active?

Check out our most recent case study of a Geelong-based business who is having a positive impact on the lives of their employees by advocating the importance of physical activity.

Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine developed a ‘health and wellbeing’ program which included encouraging employees to take up a new form of physical activity, and then providing a $200 individual subsidy for the financial cost of undertaking that new activity.

Industry: Tourism

Employees: 10-20

Location: Geelong CBD

“It’s been great to see the shift in mindset in the office. A good example is one of our employees who bought a new FitBit, which was subsidised through the Program.

Now, throughout the day, we will all hear a buzz from coming from the Fitbit, and this particular employee then gets up from their desk and walks three laps of the office”.

The anecdote described above is the exactly the kind of change Active Geelong’s Movement Movement is trying to make in workplaces around Geelong.

This one comes from Brendan Sanders, a Business Manager at Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine, and a driving force behind the organisation’s new Health and Wellbeing Program for staff.

The program aims to improve the physical and mental health of its employees, and central to the initiative is an “Off-Site Fitness Subsidy Program”.

The simple idea is having a significant impact in changing behaviour among its 17 employees, with many undertaking forms of physical activity they have never tried before.

Under the program, employees are encouraged to take up any kind of physical activity – and then the organisation provides a $200 individual subsidy for undertaking this endeavour.

This has led to an explosion of new activity among the staff.

Aside from the employee who used their subsidy to purchase a Fitbit, other employees have found ways to improve their fitness, and importantly, have also brought others along for the ride.

They include one employee who started a lunchtime walking group, and another who started a netball team.

“We also have 50 and 60-year-old’s who are buying gym memberships for the first time,” Brendan noted.

“It’s been great to see how this program has rallied people together. A lot of the initiatives have not only had an impact on one employee, they have also helped their friends and families get more active as well.”

“We’ve seen more activewear in the office over the past six months than ever before.”

The physical activity subsidy is just one part in a wider framework aimed to support staff in many different ways.

Other parts of the program include:

  • Offering sit-stand desks for staff.
  • Providing access to healthier snacks by replenishing a ‘Fruit Box’ every week.
  • Encouraging employees to complete charitable experiences and providing subsidises for any costs involved.
  • ‘Mindfulness’ training with a trained mental health coach every six months on-site, as well as off-site mental health-related excursions four times a year.

According to Brendan, there has been one key aspect to implementing the program – engaging employees right from the start.

“We had a Think Box about how the program could work and we got our employees to make suggestions about what they wanted,” Brendan said.

“I think that’s why we have had such great take-up, because it’s not just one person driving it,” he said.

“We had a general idea of how things could work. But the program itself has actually sparked new ways of thinking and people are coming up with new ideas and initiatives all the time.”

Indeed, the best ideas have been those that could be matched to research and that also provide the greatest benefit to both the staff and the organization.

This has ensured the process has not been abused by employees and taken up in the spirit of which it was provided.

And there have been huge benefits for the organisation, too.

Leadership has noted an increase in productivity and a greater sense of team-work and camaraderie among employees.

“We’ve seen a real shift in work patterns,” Brendan said.

“People are moving a lot more; choosing to walk over and talk in-person rather than picking up the phone and speaking to someone on the other side of the office, which they would have done previously – little things like that,” he said.

“And it just seems the program has provided a licence to think more creatively and encouraged innovation. There is a lot more positivity and gratitude from the employees towards the organisation for the initiatives that we have put in place.”

So how did this all start?

Brendan said it came from the organisation recognising that it was in their best interests to provide staff with access to benefits, initiatives and programs that will “ultimately allow us to get the best performance from our employees and recruit well in the future”.

He added: “our staff spend a large portion of their day inside, at the computer, in the car or in meetings. We attend a lot of functions and enjoy our fair share of coffees.

“We’re professionals committed to our industry and the region. Unfortunately, that often means long hours and after-hours work.

“Research has proven that regular exercise keeps employees more energetic, motivated and happy when they are at work. This also helps improve brain function, which leads to better overall performance.

“So, with all that in mind, we decided that we needed to find ways to support our staff in maintaining a healthy work-life balance and initiatives that encourage employees to prioritise their physical and mental health.”

Do you know of an active workplace in Geelong? If so, we would love to hear from you – contact us at so we can spotlight more organisations who are joining our city’s growing Movementmovement.

2020, a year for getting active

As we move into 2020 the focus for Active Geelong continues to evolve. Last year we made great strides with the medical community and workplaces and this year we’re looking forward to working with the broader community to inspire and empower movement.

In October, we launched our new website which has been designed to provide workplaces and individuals with resources and links to support physical activity. If you haven’t already, sign up as a Movement Champion here and help make Geelong Australia’s most active city.

We were involved in a very interesting piece of research that looked at how best to increase conversations about physical activity between doctors and their patients in partnership with our Movement Maker, Deakin University. We look forward to sharing more about this research in our next edition.

This year we’re looking forward to growing our partnership with PlaySport which will help people to better access physical activities in our local area. Find out more about this partnership here.

We will be working with the broader community to better understand the barriers and enablers to being active to be able to connect people with physical activity opportunities that are right for them.

We’ll also continue to grow the workplaces program and look forward to sharing with businesses some exciting work done in partnership with the London Business School on physical activity in the workplace.

If you haven’t had the chance yet today, schedule in some time to get your 30 minutes of movement. Together, we can make Geelong Australia’s most active city.


This week in the Geelong Advertiser, Executive Director at Villawood Properties and Active Geelong Ambassador Rory Costelleo features promoting the use of electric bikes in the Geelong CBD, to ease traffic and parking woes.

“In Geelong you’re basically crossing hills to get anywhere, which  can be a bit daunting.”

“But an electronic bike takes that away and can take away inhibitions about commenting.”

Click here to ready the full article.

Finding and participating in physical activity is easy with PlaySport

Active Geelong and PlaySport share a vision for increasing physical activity amongst the population with Active Geelong aiming to become Australia’s most active city by 2029 and PlaySport aiming to get 3 million Australians more active in 3 years.

Active Geelong is excited to become an ‘early adopter’ partner with PlaySport. The partnership is a demonstration of Active Geelong’s commitment to be an enabler and inspirer of physical activity in our community.

PlaySport is the first online platform for all things sport. Think of it as the world’s largest all-inclusive sports centre – every sport, every level, every ability – PlaySport connects you to it all. With one login you can find, organise or play sport, it’s all in one place.

We would love to get as many local sporting organisations as possible on the PlaySport platform so that people in our community can easily find and join in physical activity. One of the main aims when Active Geelong started was to help people get active through an online portal, whether it was for individuals seeking something new or doctors or physios looking for an easy way to recommend physical activity to their patients, PlaySport can help us do that.

Together, we are encouraging physical activity providers (sporting clubs, community groups, personal trainers, etc.) and individuals to join the movement movement and register with PlaySport. With one login you can find, organise or play sport, it’s all here in one place.

If you would like to learn more, or need some assistance with setting up your PlaySport page email and we will help you get started.


As part of Active Geelong’s ‘EVERYBODY, EVERY DAY’ movement to make Geelong the most active city in Australia, we want to spotlight the everyday heroes who are changing their lives for the better through physical activity.

All his life, Brendan McCartney has connected with people.

It’s what made him an influential football coach at five AFL clubs – whether it be as an assistant coach at Richmond, Geelong, Essendon and Melbourne or as senior coach at the Western Bulldogs.

But for us at Active Geelong, Brendan’s ability to motivate people makes him an EVERYBODY, EVERYDAY Hero.

Now scaling back his involvement at the elite level, the Geelong resident is trying to make a difference in the lives of as many young people as he can.

When he is not coaching at the Geelong Falcons or helping junior coaches at other local clubs, Brendan is running a football academy in Geelong during the school holidays for teenage girls and boys.

The youngsters come to improve their games and get a football education, but inherent in the program is a passion for physical activity.

“There are a lot of things youngsters at their age are doing with their holidays that don’t involve physical activity,” Brendan said.

“Here, the boys and girls are on the move all day. It’s so good for them and it’s creating good habits that will be so important for them later in life.

“I love being a part of it.”

Developing a lifelong enjoyment for physical activity has never been more critical than it is now. According to recent research, 2 out of every 3 young people in Australia aged between 2 and 17 are not meeting national physical activity guidelines. That’s scary to think about.

The passion for physical activity Brendan is passing on every day has been a part of his life since he was a youngster. And still is today.

Set to celebrate his 60th birthday later this year, the former physical education teacher still dedicates at least one hour each day purely to exercise.

He estimates he would walk at least 80 kms per week, and mixes in a variety of other exercises as simple as daily push-ups and sit-ups at home to specialised sessions with a personal trainer.

“It’s just so crucial to your health,” Brendan said.

“Maintaining your strength, your balance, and all those things – you should never underestimate the importance of physical activity. It becomes so important the older you get.”

 Do you know someone who is an ‘EVERYBODY, EVERYDAY HERO’ when it comes to physical activity? Contact Active Geelong here and help us give them the recognition they deserve for trying to make Geelong the Most Active City in Australia!

Active Geelong announced as PlaySport Early Adopter

Active Geelong is excited to become an early adopter partner with PlaySport. The partnership is a demonstration of Active Geelong’s commitment to be an enabler and inspirer of physical activity in our community.

The partnership is a collaboration that will help more people to be more active.

PlaySport is the first online platform for all things sport. Think of it as the world’s largest all-inclusive sports centre – every sport, every level, every ability – PlaySport connects you to it all. With one login you can find, organise or play sport, it’s all in one place.

Active Geelong and PlaySport share a vision for increasing physical activity amongst the population with Active Geelong aiming to become Australia’s most active city by 2029 and PlaySport aiming to get 3 million Australians more active in 3 years.

We are excited to be connecting the Geelong community with physical activity opportunities and supporting individuals to meet the physical activity guidelines of at least 30-60mins of physical activity on at least 5 days of the week.

Together, we are encouraging physical activity providers (sporting clubs, community groups, personal trainers, …) and individuals to join the movement movement and register with PlaySport. With one login you can find, organise or play sport, it’s all here in one place here.


Active Geelong Ambassador Richard Colman recently featured in GT magazine and spreads the word about the 𝙢𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩 𝙢𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩.

“He has recently been named as an ambassador for Active Geelong, a collaborative project that brings together leading businesses, doctors, researchers and individuals to address inactivity across the region.

The aim is to ensure every person gets the recommended 30-60 minutes of physical activity on at least five days of the week.

Fellow ambassadors include AFLW player Erin Hoare, Avalon Airport CEO Justin Giddings and Geelong Cats CEO Brian Cook.

The movement, which encourages people to become “champions” of the cause, has already gained the support of 38 businesses and 70 individuals who have pledged to create change.”

Read the full article here.




As part of Active Geelong’s ‘EVERYBODY, EVERYDAY’ movement to make Geelong the most active city in Australia, we want to spotlight the everyday heroes who are changing their lives for the better through physical activity. 

It’s funny how a small thing can make a big difference.

Up until recently, 57-year-old Roxie Bennett was like most people her age.

“I didn’t think I was necessarily inactive… I was just in a place where I thought – if I’m going to commit to getting more active, it would have to be getting a gym membership or doing something big like that. And that just wasn’t going to fit into my lifestyle,” she recalled.

Then Roxie attended an Active Geelong advocacy meeting and things changed.

“It was all about how it only takes 30 minutes of physical activity a day to receive significant health benefits,” she said.

“I walked out of that meeting and a I thought ‘Bugger it, I’m going to do it – I’m going to find a way to do 30 minutes a day’.”

Since then, Roxie has incorporated a daily walk into a new healthier lifestyle that has brought about an incredible personal transformation. 

In just 8 months, Roxie has lost over 25 kilograms – remarkable.

However walking is just one part of the puzzle. Roxie also does Yoga sessions five times a week – and it is an experience that provides benefits far beyond weight loss.

“Doing yoga has improved my life in so many ways – my muscle and bone strength, my gut health, my flexibility, my mental health – the list goes on and on.”

Many people around Geelong would recognise the name Roxie Bennett from Bay 93.9’s THE CATCH UP.

However for us at Active Geelong, the radio personality is just another EVERYBODY, EVERYDAY Hero who is changing her life for the better through physical activity.

And by doing so, Roxie is one of many people trying to make Geelong the Most Active City in Australia.

“One of the big things I realised was that I don’t have to go for that big one hour walk to get the benefits,” Roxie said.

“I can just walk for 30 minutes – so I can be out of bed, out for a walk and back in the shower in under and hour,” she said.

“It’s just such a wonderful way for me to start my day.

“If everyone did 30 minutes of exercise each day, the difference that would make to the health of our community in Geelong would just be phenomenal.”

Do you know someone who is an ‘EVERYBODY, EVERYDAY HERO’?

Contact Active Geelong here and help us give them the recognition they deserve for trying to make Geelong the Most Active City in Australia!