Each week in The Big Issue we bring you a celebration of the thinkers, the creators, the agitators. We’re looking at somebody who has come up with an invention or an idea that is moving the dial. This week, we speak to Ivo Gormley founder of the running group with a mission to change the world.
As many of us flock back to neglected gyms in January, we soon realise just how isolating it can be – and not much fun. That was the starting point for Ivo Gormley, 36, who came up with the GoodGym concept after growing fed up with the gym and deciding that a run round the block was “a pain, just pointless”.
He fantasised about plugging his bike into an electricity grid, so his energy would go to producing something helpful: not just exercising, but doing good at the same time.
Gormley studied anthropology at the University of Edinburgh, and went on to become a filmmaker before moving into the social sector to lead healthcare service designer think public as creative director. He even turned running into work when he collaborated with Italian filmmaker Matan Rochlitz on The Runners, which explored the idea that people might be more open about their lives if interviewed while jogging.
It was around this time that he heard of an elderly ex-builder, estranged from family and housebound after a fall, living a mile away. Gormley got in touch and asked the man if he could run over to visit him. “He said it would be very helpful if I could bring the newspaper. And that’s what I started doing every Tuesday and Thursday.”
It immediately felt fun and exciting but also meaningful
The pair formed a friendship, exchanging stories and learning from each other. Gormley had a reason to get out and exercise on cold evenings, and the ex-builder had company. Both were reconnecting with their community.