Pilates in the pews

Pilates in the pews

First published on: 10th May 2022

Cycling group gets ready to go outside church

Sports Sunday takes place on 15 May. It is an opportunity for Christians to find out more about how the arena of sport is a place where they can be an expression of God’s love and compassion.

From healthy walks and mobility exercise sessions to cycling groups and sports club chaplains, churches across the Diocese are exploring ways they can be a positive and encouraging presence in people’s sporting lives.

The benefice of Seal Chart with Underriver is one such example. Their Wellness Wednesdays proved incredibly popular, as the Rev Serena Willoughby explains,

“We know people are busy and can’t commit to a lot of activities, so we just wanted to provide something positive, manageable, and welcoming, particularly during the winter.”

Their four wellness sessions offered a varied programme of activities, including sessions on mental wellbeing, Pilates, sourdough bread making, and singing songs. Serena says there was also a good dose of “fantastic coffee, tea, and some really nice biscuits”.

She adds: “Lots of people came who don’t normally come to church and people are always saying to me, when are you doing it again? It was absolutely brilliant.”

Now, to help inspire others, the Diocese has produced a short video to help churches explore what might be possible in their local context,


Bishop Simon says that, if we believe that everything we do in life matters to God, then sport must too:

“Sport and well-being must be as big a deal to God as anything else, especially as we devote so much time to it: doing sport, watching it, talking about it, dreaming about it. “Too often we haven’t connected our love for sport and well-being with our love for God or to see it as a wonderful divine gift for human expression.”

For Archdeacon Andy Wooding Jones, running has become just that. He joined a Beginners to Runners group about five years ago, and the community has helped him go from running 5k – just – to running the London Marathon.

“Running for me has been really important in terms of my well-being, in the intensity of my role and of life. Getting out and running has been really good for my body for my soul and for my spirit.

Graham Wilkinson, Sports and Wellbeing Ministry Ambassador in the Diocese, hopes that more and more churches will be inspired to explore incorporating a sport, wellbeing or fitness aspect into their local context:

“I would encourage those in leadership in a church, if they like sport themselves, to consider organising a run or a cycle, golf session or a cricket match? Alternatively, they could organise a walk or Pilates or a book club. There is so much that can be done, and it is a great way to connect with people in the communities who we are not seeing in church.”

Find out more at: www.rochester.anglican.org/ for-parishes/community-engagement/sport-andwellbeing/