Get Inspired: How to find free activities in your area

Rowers getting involved in a free taster session with Trafford Rowing Club.
Rowers getting involved in a free taster session with Trafford Rowing Club

There are lots of excuses not to get fitter or try something new. You do not have the time or money. But if you are serious about getting out there and don't know where to start, we might have just the tips for you.

There are many free sports, activities and taster sessions for you to try.

Maybe you want to try something completely different for the New Year?

Let Get Inspired show you the ways one rowing club used to attract newcomers, and how they can work for you too.

Simon Reeves from Trafford Rowing Club
Simon Reeves, from Trafford Rowing Club, put on taster days to encourage more people to give the sport a go

During the summer, Simon Reeves - chairman of Trafford Rowing Club in Manchester - put on a couple of weekends of tasters to try to find new people for their beginners' Row Start programme.

He put details of the sessions on the BBC Get Inspired website and some notices around the club and was delighted with the response.

"We had 110 sign-ups over the two weekends," he says.

The club runs both adult and junior courses (every six and eight weeks respectively) and demand for places is growing.

"Off the back of the taster sessions, our junior waiting list stands at 94 and is growing as fast as we can clear it," adds Simon. "We have had 36 children through starter courses since Rio 2016 and as quickly as we teach them, their place is filled on the waiting list by new applicants."

The Get Inspired team went down to meet some of the rowing newbies to see how people found out about the taster session.

Rio enthusiasts

Like many of us, Niamh, 13, and mother Sue were hooked to their screens during the Rio Olympics.

"We saw Get Inspired on the television during the games and looked it up online. There were a couple of different clubs near us offering taster sessions which was perfect because Niamh wasn't sure what she would be good at it."

Niamh took to rowing like a duck to water, but she was keen to give canoeing a go as well.

"My brothers both do water sports so I want to see if it runs in the family".

Niamh and her mum Sue get to grips with their boat.
Niamh and her mum Sue get to grips with their boat

Word of (social network) mouth

With the rise in social media you can find out about lots of events going on in your area, which is exactly what Thomas did when he saw a post on social media advertising a taster session.

"A Facebook friend put a comment about the session on a completely unrelated post and it caught my eye. I messaged her to find out more about it."

Thomas' dad and sister got in on the action and joined the session too.

Thomas takes to the water on a rowing taster session at Trafford Rowing Club
Thomas takes to the water on a rowing taster session at Trafford Rowing Club

Notice at the club

Often you can stumble across notices of events during a walk. Nidhi Minocha, a yoga teacher, found out about the sessions when she saw posters while on her regular run past the rowing club.

Nidhi had often watched girls' and women's crews on the water at the club and wondered how to get involved, so she jumped at the chance of a taster session.

"It was brilliant," she says. "They put you on rowing machines to see if you have technique and how they can improve it a little bit. Then they get you into the boat just to see where you're at. It's really just to dip in and see if you'd like to take it further."

She did. And also enrolled the kids…

Nidhi and her daughter next to the river where Trafford Rowing Centre's taster sessions took place
Nidhi was out running when she found an advert for the taster session. She and her daughter decided to give it a go

"The course is more detailed - there's more terminology about the boat, the session is a bit more intense. You get a lot more time on the water and it's awesome.

"I've been really enjoying it and my kids have also been on the beginners' course and absolutely loved it."

If you want to take up rowing you can find out the best ways to get involved with our guide.

Not sure which sport is for you? Why not take a look at our activity finder to find something new near you.