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The Future Challenges: SmartGym Gloucestershire

SmartGym Gloucestershire seeks to explore the value of  combining physical and cognitive exercises to help build young people’s mental resilience. It is one of two projects being piloted under the theme of ‘Young People and Mental Health Resilience’ which forms part of the Future Challenges programme.

Due to COVID19 and its impact on schools the Smart Gym Resilience Programme has been temporarily put on hold. However we continue to deliver the project by making appropriate adjustments and preparations for when Newent Community School will re-open. We are looking forward to continuing to work with students and staff, who will benefit from this programme whilst following all the national guidelines and recommendations including maintaining social distancing measures.

Rugged Interactive, Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust and the Anna Freud National Centre for Children & Families are working together to evaluate the SmartGym Resilience Programme. The programme combines physical and cognitive activities, gamification of physical activities (using game elements to solve problems and increase engagement) and a tailored support tool to embed and reinforce users’ personal development. The physical activity element was created by the Anna Freud National Centre and the gamified physical activities element uses Rugged Interactive’s CardioWall® technology.

How the programme works

The SmartGym Resilience Programme is currently being piloted in Newent Community School and Sixth Form Centre in Gloucestershire. The programme takes place over 10 sessions and resembles circuit training. Young people follow a set of weekly performance drills on the equipment and track their own progress. Trained staff work with participants to explore topics surrounding motivation and resilience, based on this progress.

The drills are designed to be fun and provide a way to build relationships between young people. They help participants start conversations about their experiences and emotions, and develop improved resilience to cope with the challenges of everyday life. This engagement may also highlight individuals who would benefit from more targeted or specialist support.

Building an evidence base

Through this programme, we are working closely with innovators and local partners, including clinicians, commissioners and the chosen trial sites, to pilot their innovations and evaluate them in a real-world setting. This will help build evidence to support possible future commissioning decisions and opportunities.

We are also collaborating with the Wessex Centre for Implementation Science to independently evaluate this project.

Find out about the other Future Challenges projects:


Moving to Better Health