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Working It Out with Camp Fitness in Surry Hills

How Pip Baldwin is using exercise to build Surry Hills community spirit.


Camp Fitness workout boot camp team

Pip Baldwin is a Surry Hills local who goes above and beyond to help his community. As the owner of Camp Fitness, Pip and his teammates run ‘The Northcott Fitness Workout’ every Friday at 10 am at Eddie Ward Park. 


This free, 45-minute workout is for members of the community who live in social housing. It gives them a chance to come together each week and build a sense of comradery. Currently, Pip engages senior members of the community to work on simple strength exercises, such as balance and mobility. 


We had a chat with Pip about his organisation and how it’s helping the Surry Hills community. This interview will surely warm the soul. 


Where did the idea for this initiative come from?

The idea for this project was born from being in Eddie Ward Park, which is the predominant site for running workouts. We wanted to do something that gave back to the community, and which also used the park. 


The social housing community is often at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing exercise and fitness services so we thought that if we could help people look after their health then we could potentially also help reduce hospital and doctor visits. It’s a win for all.


Our project was recognised by Lord Mayor Clover Moore in August this year and later that month we secured funding for the program, via a city grant.


Do you think exercise forms deeper levels of connection between the participants? 

Predominantly the workout is targeted at seniors, with an age range of 60-85 years old. I think that a sense of community and companionship is very important, especially for this age group, many of whom can feel lonely and isolated. It is a regular event in their diary, and it gives them something to look forward to. They are able to meet similar people and perform some simple exercises, whilst having a chat, so we are not only addressing physical health but also mental health.


Can you run us through the structure of the workouts?

Firstly, the class mood is always set with some good music, usually a 60’s playlist. I am a qualified PT, so I’ll instruct them all on how to do an exercise, they choose what weight they’d like to use (I pick the weights up from the community centre and bring them over in my cart) then I normally use the following formula: 12 rounds of 40 seconds of exercise with 20 seconds of rest. I always tell them that they need to listen to their bodies, to perform each exercise gently and I will monitor each person’s ability to do an exercise, regressing any exercise if needed. They always joke that my workout is tough, because we stand and use weights, but they are all capable of much more than they realise. For example, an 85-year-old attendee surprises me with her push-ups against the bench. 


Do you sometimes have themed workout classes for different holidays throughout the year?

Yes, I often do something for the different holidays throughout the year. For Halloween, I went to Kmart and brought them all a mask and we made a video of them walking like zombies. Next month for Christmas, I am taking them all for cake and coffee at Kurtosh on Crown St.


Has there been a piece of feedback from a participant that has stuck with you? 

They all really like the music I play as they say it makes them happy and reminds them of their youth. I have one lovely Chinese lady who brings me a goodie bag each week as a thank you because she tells me that is what they do in their culture. Overall, what I hear a lot is that they feel stronger and healthier from having done the workout.


By Clare O’Rourke


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