BMF News

My Journey with BMF

Caroline. 48. BMF member for 10 ½ years at St Albans, Hertfordshire.

Why did I join BMF?

I was made redundant just before I got married. Great timing. Two of my friends knew I liked sport and thought taking me to a new exercise class they had found would cheer me up.

I went along as I had time on my hands and gave the class a go, not expecting anything in particular.

I was pushed in that first class and found everyone friendly, with an instructor who really knew his stuff. I wasn’t sure about it all but found myself signing up that night - and going to class at least twice a week for the next 10 ½ years!

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Why do I go to BMF?

The people

I have made terrific friends at BMF over the years and the socials are brilliant. You meet people of all ages, levels of fitness, shapes & sizes. Everyone is welcomed and we look out for new members to make sure they are included in team and partner work. The camaraderie is something else.

The Instructors

They push you and get you moving, but always done with fun. They adapt the class to the weather, the terrain and fitness levels. We all groan at burpees though.

The Outdoors

There is something about training outdoors and we all turn up in every sort of weather. The classes in snow are my particular favourite. The driving rain is horrible but you feel terrific after a class in that. A gym class can never give you that.

The Class

I love that fact you never know what each class will be like - except for excellent! You can choose your level but the instructors know where you should be.


Even though I enjoyed all sorts of sport, BMF is the one thing I have continued to do over a very long period of time. It has really improved my overall fitness - both strength and running. I never thought I would get up every Saturday morning to do a fitness class but I love it!

I also enjoy doing other fitness classes alongside BMF - weight training, HIIT, speed-walking. It’s a great combination, but BMF is my favourite. There are competitors out there but not with the same professionalism, people, longevity and value.

It’s not just your physical fitness it helps, but mentally as well. My job is pretty full-on and I have two young children so my brain is constantly on the go, full of decisions and responsibility. BMF is the perfect antidote to that by being able to switch off, take on instructions for the exercises and get the body moving in the fresh air.

Had a bad day? Do BMF and get it out of your system. Had a good day? Go to BMF and have great fun.

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I had two daughters within 11 months of each other whilst at BMF. As my body was used to it, the doctor advised it was best to keep going, lowering the levels and exercises as my pregnancy progressed. The instructors gave me alternative exercises and advice the whole way along. I felt brilliant, rather than worried, just completely safe with people who knew what they were doing. I was able to keep going to class until 6 months gone.

6 weeks after each daughter, I was cleared to go straight back to BMF again. I was a bit nervous about going back to class as there were new people and instructors, as well as those I knew. I needn’t have worried - it felt great to be back and getting myself back to fitness. It definitely helped the post baby body and it was also good to have that time to yourself.

The Worst Time

I have had complete support from BMF (the fitness and the people) at the worst time of my life. After my daughters, I lost 5 babies in 15 months, including a set of twins, due to stress, which led to the awful decision that I would not have the big family I had always dreamed of.

The grief was indescribable.

I went to BMF twice a week as usual - it was the hour I could just focus on exercise and breathing.  The instructors kept a watchful eye on me to ensure I was physically ok, without making a fuss. My friends I had made at class knew and they were there for me. I have sobbed through class and my classmates would run alongside me, put a hand on my shoulder without saying a word and encourage me when we did the team and partner sessions.

The support was incredible and demonstrates that your classmates are damn good people.


My advice? Try it. Join. I fully intend to carry on doing BMF for the next 10….20+ years.

St Albans, Hertfordshire

BMFers run 3500 for charity

Our amazing BMF’ers ran a total of 3500 miles to raise money for the Leilah Foundation.

“Each year we try to make a challenge to help us improve fitness, set PB's and to raise money for a good cause, the chosen charity this year was the Leilah foundation. It is a small charity set up in memory of Leilah Hayden who passed away, aged 15 months from viral myocarditis. With no symptoms, Leilah went to bed and never woke up.”

It took 12 weeks for her parents to discover that her cause of death was myocarditis. Myocarditis is a disease marked by inflammation and damage of the heart muscle and accounts for thousands of sudden deaths each year.

Since her death, Leilah's parents Alicia Mearns and John Hayden created The Leilah Foundation to raise awareness for the disease.

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“We raised money to donate for her research. This is a non-profit charity run by Leilah’s parents from their home. They have been very thankful for the help and effort the people of BMF Birkenhead have put in to support them. Leilah's dad, John Hayden joined BMF Birkenhead for a class to see what it was all about and thanked everybody for their hard work towards the charity.

So, let’s start with the distance. 3500 miles is further than Liverpool to New York, it’s Liverpool to Istanbul and back. Starting in the summer about 20 people took part in this challenge, inevitably there were plenty of injuries along the way, but with a strong bond and a great motivator, Kevin Thompson (our BMF instructor) leading the way, and with Helen Hurst keeping track of our total mileage we completed the challenge.

A variety of people took part in half marathons, 10k runs, the first BMF challenge with the RBLI in Sefton Park and the dreaded Hell Runner. People took their running shoes worldwide with runs in France, China, LA and around Great Britain.”

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A Santa Dash took part on the 14th December as a final, festive challenge to reach the overall mileage goal. Each member paid a fee to run in the Santa Dash and all of the money was donated to the Leilah Foundation.

“Everyone that took part relished the challenge and we look forward to more challenges in the future.”

 By Martin Blumson Rainsby & Helen Hurst (BMF Birkenhead Members)

BMF would like to congratulate our amazing Birkenhead members on their incredible achievements and fundraising efforts. We can’t wait to see your next challenge!

World mental health day

Maybe we’re biased, but in our view, there’s just nothing quite like feeling the grass underfoot and the fresh air on your face while you’re getting fit with your friends.
Nature is natural therapy and has wide-ranging impacts on all aspects of our health, including mentally and emotionally as well as physical effects such as reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and reducing stress hormones.
But rather than take our word for it, we decided to get the experts involved, and see if there really was anything better about getting fit in the great outdoors – it turns out there’s a lot that backs up our theory! Check out what we found:

Improved Mental Wellbeing

  • There is a tonne of literature published on the effects of getting outdoors. A UK PARLIAMENT REPORT IN 2016 showed some pretty compelling findings when it comes to the impact of green space on our mental health as a nation, even suggesting that “nature-based” therapy be used to relieve some mental and physical illnesses and improve recovery time. 
  • Meanwhile, A STUDY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX examined the impact of exercising in nature, or green exercise, on mental health. The results showed that exposure to outdoor exercise had significant positive impacts like improving self-esteem and mood and reducing stress and insomnia for both males and females across all age groups.
  • Another recent study published by Mind found that taking a walk in nature reduced depression by 71% of participants!
  • The results don’t get much more compelling than that when it comes to nature’s impact on our mental wellbeing so ditch the treadmill and GET TO YOUR NEAREST PARK!

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Get more bang for your buck!

  • By training outdoors, you will experience more strenuous, longer workouts!
  • According to medical studies done at Harvard, wind resistance experienced while running outside can lift your calorie burn by up to 10%.
  • Not only will you burn more, but you’ll do more too. Studies have shown that those who work out outdoors generally end up training for longer, due to increased enjoyment and reduced boredom.
  • Not only do you do more exercise working outside but it’s better for your body. The firm, flat surfaces of gym equipment like treadmills place more stress on your knees and ligaments, causing a bigger impact on your joints and making it harder to recover.
  • Outdoor runners tend to flex their ankles more and expend more energy when COMPARED to treadmill runners. Cyclists are also shown to burn more calories when riding outdoors.
  • Another STUDY shows that people who exercise outside do so for longer. The study participants had their activity monitored for a week; the people who exercised outside spent an average of 30 minutes more exercising than those who exercised inside. 

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Forget about the clock 

The great thing about working out outdoors is that it doesn’t feel like exercise. So instead of painfully watching your workout tick by measured by the countdown timer on the treadmill or the music videos on repeat in the gym. When we’re outdoors we are so immersed in our environment and surrounded by different stimuli, that clock-watching goes out the window and before we know it, an hour of exercise flashes by. You won’t get time to clock watch on our BMF sessions! 

Let the sunshine in

  • Now, we know the UK isn’t, well, the sunniest spot in the world. This is why it’s more important than ever to soak up that Vitamin D every chance we get, particularly in the Autumn months!
  • Not only does natural light invigorate and energise your body and mind, Vitamin D also enhances energy generation of the muscle and oxidation of the tissues, meaning that working out in the sun has a direct impact on your fitness gains.

Train for an event 

  • There are few things more satisfying than the feeling of accomplishment that comes with finishing a sporting event.
  • And whether it’s a 5KM run or an ultra-marathon, having the looming deadline of a date you’ve been building towards, the motivation is unbeatable.
  • This will in-turn super-charge your competitiveness and add a whole new dimension to your training as you start thinking beyond just physical and aesthetic goals and become focused on beating your personal best!
  • Be Military Fit workouts are an incredible way to take your fitness to the next level while also improving your coordination, agility and mental toughness, so you’re ready for whatever the course throws at you.

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The most sustainable environment out there

Particularly in this day and age, the environment is key. Who needs fancy boutique gyms with tv screens, pumping music, lights, hairdryers, straighteners? Let’s save every inch of energy we have. If there aren’t enough reasons to train outdoors, this should be your prime consideration!

BMF join forces with plastic patrol

On Saturday 21st September, BMF joined forces with PLASTIC PATROLto participate in a mass clean up across the UK and mark WORLD CLEAN UP DAY.

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Plastic Patrol have a number of partner clubs and reps across the UK, Europe and US who help deliver free sessions, such as SUP / paddling, yoga, parkour, amongst others and BMF are delighted to be a part of this fantastic cause by plogging! 

Plogging is word used to describe JOGGING combined with picking up LITTER. As a workout, it provides variation in body movements by adding bending, squatting and stretching to the main action of running, or walking. Our members enjoyed a unique military fitness/plogging session and in return picked litter and logged everything collected in the PLASTIC PATROL APP!

Everything members log in the app is analysed by Plastic Patrol’s partner scientists to help them understand the types, distribution, amount and brands of plastic (and other waste like glass, cans etc), so that they can stop the problem from source.

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Nicola MacRae – BMF Edinburgh

“There was about 11 of us in total and we spent an hour jogging through the Meadows picking up any rubbish we could find. We each filled bags with all sorts of rubbish; cans bottles, wrappers and a shoe (!), kebab boxes and various types of packaging. I’ve spent many an hour doing BMF classes in the Meadows and really appreciate the lovely green space it provides for the community, so it’s great to play a part in keeping it clean and a space that can be enjoyed by everyone. There is no excuse for litter, so hopefully highlighting the problem will shame those into ceasing their unacceptable behaviour!”

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Graham O’Brien – BMF General Manager

“We’ve actually been plogging for the last 4 weeks at Heaton Park set up by a BMFer – Adam Pondor. He (as well as the rest of us) are sick of turning up to a litter laden park. Adam took the initiative to purchase 10x litter grabbers, bin bags, gloves etc. We now meet every Monday at 17:30 before the 18:30 BMF session and clean the park. We’ve even had new members from it that had stopped to chat whilst we were cleaning and now, they clean and train with us. We’ve collected well over 20 bin bags full of plastic, paper, coffee cups etc but surprisingly mainly baby wipes! Whilst training, anytime you spotted a piece of rubbish you could escape what we were doing and run off to a nearby bin to dispose of the rubbish and then come back and re-join.”

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 Adam Pondor – BMF Heaton Park

“I’ve always been advocate of litter picking and being an avid member of BMF, the two seemed to combine so well, being outdoors and keeping it clean!

I saw the park one day after a summer bank holiday weekend, and the state it was left in was absolutely abysmal, the only way to get it sorted was to talk less and pick it up! I decided then, that all it would take would be to get some likeminded individuals together and spend 30 minutes, before a session, to pick up some of the rubbish left in the park. Since that day, we’ve picked up an amazing amount of rubbish and even though it’s a task that might not have an ending, I’m proud of the difference we’re all making!”

The grand total number of pieces that have been collected in the Plastic Patrol app over time is now up to 240K pieces - What an amazing achievement! Thank you for your hard work BMFers!

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Instructor of the month

This month's Instructor of the month goes to Jane Rafter. This award is well deserved as Jane delivered almost 50 sessions last month across seven London parks.

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Despite delivering a huge number of sessions, Jane's session quality is always unfaltering due to her dedication, professionalism and passion for BMF.

Jane's enthusiasm for BMF and training outdoors ensures that her connection to the members that she teaches. She also makes sure that all members get the most out of every session, no matter what their background or bib colour.

Thank you, Jane, for your hard work. BMF are proud to have instructors who care so much about their members and the service that they deliver.

Introducing Sean Vian

BMF have added Sean Vian to the ranks to lead the South London region as General Manager.

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Sean is a former Parachute Regiment Colour Sergeant and Senior Pre-Parachute Selection Instructor and leaves the army after serving 16-years in a variety of operational environments including N.Ireland, Afghanistan and Iraq.

During that time Sean spent 2 years as the Senior Instructor for Pre-Parachute Selection (P Company Staff) delivering physical training and testing to determine whether an individual has fitness & determination to serve within Airborne Forces. A keen Boxer, Sean is also qualified as an England boxing instructor and a BBBoC Trainer/Second.

Sean said “It’s an exciting time to be part of BMF. Military Phys has modernised with more focus on strength & conditioning and sports science and BMF’s updated programmes are keeping pace with the developments. Joining now also gives the opportunity to have a positive impact on my region and the company as a whole.

“Members definitely get some tough love from me and strive to get the most out of every session in all weather conditions."

Ivan Rowlatt, a former Parachute Regiment Officer and now BMF Operations Director said, ‘Building an elite culture is critical for the future vision of BMF. Having someone of Sean’s calibre and experience is superb and sets the bar for the type of quality we’re looking for in this new era. With the business modernisation and global expansion programmes underway, these are exciting times for a company with a wide range of employment opportunities; from part-time instructor to franchise owner.’