Words: Josh Millar
Image: Offside Sports Photography
Football clubs have always been intrinsically linked with their communities, and in Germany, with their 50+1 ruling, fans are the custodians of the clubs. And now, Borussia Dortmund are giving something back. The club are offering 12-week fitness classes to fans who are medically overweight. They’ll be able to use the facilities at Dortmund’s stadium and the club's training ground while being trained by licensed coaches from the Evonik football school. The best thing about it is that it’s totally free for anyone who wants to take part. Which is good. Football clubs doing good things is good.
The courses will last twelve weeks, with 90-minute sessions each week. The focus isn’t only on physical activity either, with coaches using theory classes giving tips to live a healthier lifestyle. Crucially, the course’s aim isn’t to push people into dieting; the focal point is on positive changes in people’s diets. They’re not looking to change anything too drastically, only make people think a bit more about what they put into their bodies. We all need to do that, really. Swap a can of coke for a glass of water. Change out the takeaway for some decent greens. Go for a jog instead of watching that new series on Netflix that you don't really like.
As part of the physical sessions, Dortmund will be using football as the main activity using the pitch at the Evonik football academy. Torsten Sengteller, sports director, and Christian Baumgart, one of the coaches at the Evonik football academy and the junior performance centre, train the participants. The priority is that no one has to worry about being overwhelmed, and can train at their own pace, although it would be sorely tempting to just keep trying blasties down in front of the Yellow Wall.
The programme has been successful elsewhere since it launched last March. On average, participants during that time lost seven kilograms each. The current group have confirmed this trend. Halfway through the course, each has been able to reduce their weight on average by four kilograms.
The model for the initiative is the ‘Football Fans in Training’ courses that started in Scotland in 2010. The SPFL have all 42 league clubs participating in helping people get fit for free. Spaces are open for any Dortmund fans between 35 and 65 with a BMI higher than 28. Other German clubs participating in the programme are 1. FC Nürnberg, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Eintracht Braunschweig, FC Ingolstadt 04, and FC Schalke 04.
Did you like that? You should probably subscribe to our quarterly magazine, then. You won't regret it.