Why joining a sports club will be one of the best things you’ll do at university

There is a lot going on during your first few weeks of university so don’t worry if you didn’t feel ready to sign up to any clubs or societies just yet – there are still plenty of opportunities to get involved this year. All student clubs run a little differently, however most welcome all abilities and may offer Performance teams that focus on competing, as well as social sessions for those just wanting to play for fun.

In this blog post we’ll be looking at some of the reasons joining a sports club can enhance your university experience!


8 Reasons to join a class

Did you know that there are over 80 classes a week at the Indoor Sports Centre? With classes from Body Combat to Yoga fit to Spin, there is something to suit everybody and any level. Today we will be taking a look at  reasons why joining a fitness class can be a fantastic addition to your active life. Most of our fitness classes operate from the Indoor Sports Centre on Tyndall Avenue and are included in the Active Memberships. Our B:Active programme also runs its own series of low-cost and free classes on Campus and in the Residences, you can check out both timetables on our website.

1. It’s a great way to make connections


Bristol Active Bucketlist

It’s that time again where we begin to welcome new and returning back to Bristol! In this post, we are sharing some Bristol-based activities that we think deserve a spot on your active bucket list. If you do try any of our suggestions, let us know, we’d love to see your paddle boarding pictures or your new favorite trail. 

Run the downs

Clifton Downs is a running hot spot. With great routes and amazing views over the Avon Gorge, it’s the perfect place to clock up some miles and explore a bit of Bristol whilst you are at it. New to Bristol? The Welcome Fair will be an opportunity to get to know this iconic Bristol location. Keep an eye on our social media for the launch of the 2022 Bristol Run Series if your keen to set some running goals and join our community.

Visit the Wave

Bristol may not be known for being a surfer’s paradise, but it doesn’t mean you can’t catch some waves.  Just a 20-minute drive out of Bristol City Centre, this inland surfing pool offers a range of sessions, whether you are a surfing pro and just want to get out there or if you are a complete beginner. Surfing your thing? Make sure you check out the University of Bristol Surf Society for surf gear access, socials and weekends away. Surf @ Bristol SU

Get climbing

Bristol students love to climb and luckily there’s plenty of climbing centers  around the city where you can reach some new heights. Climbing is not only great for strengthening, it’s also an effective form of cardio and has several psychological and personal benefits from improved goal setting to increased self-confidence.

Cycle to Bath

If you’ve bought your bike to university (wise choice!) then you must cycle the famous Bristol to Bath Railway Path, a 13-mile off-road route suitable for cyclists and walkers.  It might be a little longer than the 20-minute train ride, but you will spot plenty of wildlife and work up a sweat. Just make sure you stop for tea and cake in beautiful Bath!

Watch a game

You don’t have to go very far to catch a match! On Wednesday nights you’ll be able to watch our #WeAreBristol student clubs compete at our Coombe Dingle Sports Facility. Our Pavilion will be serving food and the bar will be open too for the complete game-day experience. If you’d rather be on the pitch, there will be opportunities at the start of term to ‘Give It a Go’ and trial a range of sports clubs and activities for free What’s On & Events @ Bristol SU

Get paddling

Bristol is famous for it’s picturesque and lively harbourside, but you don’t just have to explore it by foot. Recent years have seen more and more people opting to paddleboard their way along the harbour. Stand Up Paddleboard Bristol offer a Paddleboard Harbourside tour suitable for complete beginners and provide all the kit and instruction you’ll need for a safe and enjoyable paddle.

Climb lots and lots of hills

This is an easy one, you won’t get very far in Bristol without going upwards at some point. It may be steep but you’ll thank all the inclines later. Walking uphill can boost your respiratory and lung function as well as strengthening your circulatory system, not to mention a huge endorphin rush!

Walk and explore

The best way to get to know a new city is to get out and explore. Grab your flatmates, some comfy shoes and a bottle of water and find your new favourite spot whilst getting active too. Just 30 minutes of walking a day can improve your overall health and boost mental well-being. If you like a bit of structure to your walk, check out one of Bristol’s many walking tours and learn about everything Bristol, from Banksy to Blackbeard. Our B:Active Residence programme even offers a walking tour for free – keep an eye out on their social media @bristolunibactive to find out more!

Try a water sport

There may be a few water-based activities on our list but sometimes sport is just that little bit more exciting off dry-land. University of Bristol Sailing are one of our clubs offering social sessions as a chance to learn to sail in a fun and friendly way, with taster sessions happening throughout October as part of ‘Give it a Go’. The University of Bristol Sport app is a great way to find out more about our clubs and find out all you need to know about trial sessions, memberships and more!

Join the Colour Run

Every year in September, University of Bristol Sport and Bristol SU host a 3k, very fun and equally as messy, Colour Run. This year is no different and will be held on 26 September at the Coombe Dingle. It’s a chance to run, walk or skip around the course whilst getting covered in colourful paint (we can guarantee great photos!). Tickets are available to book now! Bristol SU Beta



Free ways to have an active life in Bristol


Being on a University budget shouldn’t stop you from living a healthy, active life. In this post we will be looking at some free-of-charge opportunities to exercise your body and boost your mood, available both within the university and the wider community!

1) Swap treadmills for pavements.

Up your step count, improve your wellbeing and explore some of Bristol’s beautiful walks. Local walking/running spots include Harborside, Leigh Woods, Ashton court and the stretch between your front door and the supermarket! It doesn’t need to be a marathon,  just make sure you stay safe, wear reflective clothing where possible and know your route. The Bristol Run Series happens annually and is a great opportunity to train with an aim!

2) Book a B:Active class

Did you know that many of our fitness classes that are part of our B:Active Residence programme are free of charge for those living in University-allocated accommodation? You can try yoga, conditioning, pilates and more without making a dent in your budget. It’s also a great way to meet other students in your accommodation outside of your flat.


3) Give it a Go

During Welcome Week you’ll have the opportunity to try out a huge range of sport and fitness society sessions for free. This will give you the chance to meet new people and try some new things without having to commit to a membership first. These sessions are run with Bristol SU so keep an eye on their socials and website for more details.

4) Attend our Giant Fitness Class

This September we are giving you the chance to try out three of our most popular classes for free at our Giant Fitness Class. This will be a 90 minute session, made up of 3 classes held at the Indoor Sports Centre, no booking required. You can find out more here…

couple doing press-ups

5) Get out and about

Bristol is definitely not short of green spaces, many sporting free courts and even outdoor gyms. Brandon Hill Park is a great example – it’s a workout getting there in the first place!


6) Be app-y 

This year, many of our Run Series Members have inspired us by opting to walk/run with the help of podcasts and apps. From one that makes you feel like you are running away from a Zombie to Sarah Millican trying to get you off your couch, it’s one way to spruce up a run for free

7) Keep it green

If you are keen to get working out from home but don’t have the equipment, there are plenty of ways to use things around your house (full wine bottles are great as weights!)  or even using sites such as Freecycle to get hold of the right kit without making a dent.

8) Get online

The University of Bristol App is the home of 50+ On Demand workouts, ready whenever you are. Home workouts are great for when you’re on a tight schedule, studying from home or even if you just aren’t ready yet to return to our facilities.

9) Follow @Bristoluniactive on Instagram

Here you’ll find loads of active inspiration, tips, updates and even live -streamed fitness classes – it’s really as easy as that! B:Active is the perfect access point for students who are looking to get moving and connect with our community.

10) Stay connected

We will always keep you updated on all opportunities and flag up those that don’t require membership or cost. Make sure you are following us on our social medias, check in on our website or pop in a say hello to our team at the welcome desks at our facilities


Nutrition advice for runners: What is Nutrition?

If I say the words “sports nutrition”, what do you think? For many of us, the predominant image is probably a guy a bit like Arnie, downing a protein shake, wearing tight nylon short-shorts and a slinky vest. Fear not, I’m here to tell you that we can have a far more expansive view of what constitutes sports nutrition. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, anything that you put in your mouth which contributes to your training programme is, in essence, sports nutrition.

If a cup of herbal tea before bed helps you get a good night’s sleep then it is, to you, as important a sports nutrition drink as a protein shake is to Arnie! Nutrition doesn’t have to be prescriptive – a good nutrition programme is about listening to your body and responding to what it needs: if you are hungry then eat and if you are full then stop. There are a few basic points to consider which can help you hit the basics but, generally speaking, being incredibly precise about your food intake is not necessary unless you are an elite athlete training multiple times per day.

Arnold Schwarzenegger inside a coloured circle in 4 segments reading Nutritious, delicious, cheap, easy
You can eat nutritiously even if you don’t want to drink your food.


The Spennylympics

Charlotte Nichols is a 3rd-year Medical student at the University of Bristol. This summer, she and her partner Stuart will be attempting to complete all 80 Olympic events during the 17 days that coincide with the Tokyo games (23rd July-8th August) to raise awareness and vital funds for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, in memory of Stuart’s much-loved brother, Spencer (Spenny).

Spencer aka Spenny
Spencer aka Spenny

In 2011 Spencer tragically lost his life to Motor Neurone Disease aged just 49, leaving behind his wife and 2 young sons. Spencer held a special place in the hearts of all who knew him. He was many things to many people, a well-known and talented musician, a keen footballer, a loyal and trusted friend and always the party starter! Spencer lived with this disease for just under 2 years and throughout this period he dedicated himself to raising as much awareness and money as he could for the MND association.

Charlotte told us “Stuart has always wanted to mark this 10-year anniversary and celebrate Spenny’s life in a fitting way and that was the seed that grew into Spennylympics, and in me, he has found someone determined and crazy enough to bring this idea to life! We are under no illusions as to just how difficult this challenge will be, in fact, it has been described by some as “impossible” which has only fuelled our determination to succeed even more!”


Common Diet Myths Explained (part 1)

Which diet should you choose?

Ever suffered from information overload when deciding what diet to try?
What can we believe when the advice seems to change from one day to the next?
Are you confused.com?

Outlined below are a few common myths that we tend to hear about different diets, to help you choose which – if any – is right for you.

The Low Carb Diet

What is it?

The Low Carb diet aims to achieve fat loss by limiting carbohydrate intake per day, without limiting your intake of fat and protein.

Why is it recommended?

Carbohydrates are made up of glucose molecules, and glucose is broken down in our bodies by a hormone called Insulin. When we consume more calories than our body needs, insulin stores the excess glucose (carbs) as fat within our cells. The theory behind this diet is that a reduced amount of carbohydrates will reduce the likelihood that fat will be stored in the body due to a reduction in the amount of insulin required to break down our food.

The Low Carb Myth-Buster

This is in fact incorrect. Insulin has not been proven to promote long-term fat storage in the body as people assume. Low carb diets can also be difficult to adhere to day -to-day and result in low mood and energy is not undertaken safely. Carbohydrates are our the preferred energy source for our brain and bodies, so if you’re engaging in any type of physical activity, consuming carbohydrates around training sessions is likely to actually improve your performance, endurance, and recovery.

The Low Fat Diet

Why eat low fat?

Low fat diets have been popular and widely advocated in recent years. Fat tends to be demonised in the fitness industry because of all of the macro-nutrients we consume (carbs, fats and proteins) it is more calorie dense. By this we mean that one gram of fat yields nine calories (units of energy) whilst one gram of carbohydrate yields on four calories. 

It is also widely publicised that a diet high in saturated fat is likely to raise blood cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease and other associated conditions.

The Low Fat Myth-Buster

Focusing on the calorie difference between fats and carbs in itself is problematic as the energy from fats and from carbohydrates perform very different functions within the body.

Additionally, the findings of a recent study in the Lancet contradict the popular opinion that that a diet high in saturated fat is likely to raise blood cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease. They found that diets low in saturated fat increased the risk of early death by 13% over those getting a higher percentage of their total caloire intake from fat. It was also found that eating a diet rich in fats actually reduced mortality by up to 23%.

A summary:

The NHS guidance for optimal health is that fats should contribute around 35% of daily calorie intake and carbs around 50% to stay in the sweet spot between the two extremes. While low carb diets can result in rapid weight loss, this is more likely due to a reduction in water-weight due to the fact that 1 gram of glycogen (carbohydrate molecule) is stored with up to 3 grams of water. S by reducing carbs you are reducing the associated water storage also. This means that high-speed weight loss is usually only maintained in the first few days. Long term comparisons of low carb and low fat diets find no significant difference in weight loss over one year. 

Choosing a diet is not as difficult as it looks!  It boils down to choosing a diet that, above all else, works for you and your lifestyle. Make sure to check back for part 2 when we’ll discuss other diets, such as the Ketogenic Diet, the Alkaline diet and the Paleo diet!

Disclaimer: if you have any pre-existing medical condition, or are pregnant, please seek the advice of your GP before starting any self-administered diet. 

A 77 Mile Trip To Share Some University of Bristol Joy

During a week where we are reflecting on Kindness for Mental Health Awareness Week, it seemed fitting to shine a light on Arron’s BDT Cycle Challenge – undertaken for no greater reason than to bring some joy to his UoB team.

The Sport, Exercise and Health Division at the University are quite used to working as a socially-distanced team, having to operate day-to-day across three main sites; the Indoor Sports Centre on Tyndall Avenue, the University Pool in the Richmond Building, and Coombe Dingle Sports Complex.

Most of us in the Business Development Team (BDT), however, are brought together at our bi-weekly meetings, and it’s rare that many staff go more than a full week without ‘popping in’ to another office or two and seeing colleagues across the team and Division. As many other UoB staff can probably relate, the seven weeks since our facilities shut and we all transitioned to working-from-home, is the longest any of us have been without catching up with colleagues – in meetings, or over a freshly-boiled kettle.​​​​​​​Arron is our Deputy BDT Manager and this Bike Ride challenge started initially as a “joke between colleagues” – could we convince him to take on such a mammoth challenge for the sake of the team? Turns out, we could, and with some gentle encouragement the idea soon become a very real plan, much to the excitement of the rest of us! All in, the mapped route would see Arron cross the length and breadth of Bristol, down into North Somerset, and to the far-flung reaches of South Gloucestershire – final mileage yet to be determined…

Luckily the weather held out and the sun was shining when he set off at 8:00am for the shortest leg of the trip; just around the corner to stop number one and a slightly bleary-eyed morning “hello” from Molly, Sport’s Social Media Assistant! ​​​​​​​

From here he headed across Bristol to St George, for a (socially-distanced) coffee and home-grown flower collection from Events Manager, Kirsty, before moving on to see Jo, our Memberships Administrator – who was delighted with the delivery of flowers that came with him!

Over the course of the day Arron cycled a total distance of 77 miles, visiting 12 members of the Business Development Team, and exchanging stories and well wishes from one colleague to the next!

During a week where we are reflecting on Kindness for Mental Health Awareness Week, it seemed fitting to shine a light on this – Arron’s BDT Cycle Challenge – undertaken for no greater reason than to bring some joy to his UoB team. This act of kindness translated into further acts of kindness from the whole team, with each stop inviting an exchange of encouragement, coffee, flowers and snacks. Arron was even greeted by his very own personalized t-shirt for the occasion, expertly crafted by our Finance Administrator, Penny!

For all of us it was a welcome moment of social time with somebody new and also provided some mild entertainment during an otherwise ordinary day. But I think, most importantly, it re-connected our team during a time of disconnection – which was a wonderful thing.

Important disclaimer: This cycle is an exception to Arron’s usual ‘daily exercise’ – cycles of this magnitude are not regular occurrences – and social distancing was carefully observed throughout the entire day. 

TENNIS: Article review from Ali Blackett, Head Tennis Coach.

The article that Ali reviews in this blog post can be found here. It is titled “How to Play Matches the Same Way as you Play in Practice and has been shared by Tennis Mind Game.com.


As a coach, this topic comes up a lot with players commenting that they can do things in practice that they feel can’t do in matches or that they feel more confident in a training situation. This is particularly common in young players. This article is great at explaining the reasons why this is the case in an understandable manner and offering some solutions to minimise the differences between practice and training. It summarises the main differences as caring/being afraid (in a match) verses not caring/no fear (in practice). It is suggested the caring or fear in a match is due to the negative consequences of the outcome; this could be parents being disappointed or losing ranking points for example (note the fear is not actually losing the tennis match in itself!) and these are not present in a training situation.

Interestingly they comment in the article that this issue could be in part due to most competing players train 20 hours over 2 weeks compared to 1-4 hours of matches. This point is left at that but I feel this is one of the big issues with many juniors in our country now; they are happy to train but not compete, I am not sure of many other sports that don’t have the mentality that you are training to compete, you don’t just train and not actually play the sport properly which I feel is an issue in tennis.

The article raises two ways to combat the problem;

  1. Train as if you are playing a match, for example make sure you play competitive points and practice total commitment to drills or
  2. Play a match as you practice, in effect lowering the pressure in a match situation. I feel both methods are relevant and perhaps which one a player or coach adopts mostly should reflect the individual player and their drives.

My favourite part of the article is when it addresses dealing with stress and anxiety by checking and challenging thoughts so that the player focuses on what can be controlled for example tactics and rituals and moves the focus away from any potential negative outcomes. It goes further to suggest players should “accept what happens in a match”. This is possibly the most useful piece of information for a young player to adopt. It teaches them to channel their thoughts, control their emotions and show resilience. For example, if you can accept your opponent has won a game from a net chord and not dwell on it emotionally you are more likely to compete effectively in the next game.

Lastly a great suggestion here is for a player to spend time dealing with their fears off court (e.g. ‘If I lose everyone will think I’m rubbish’. Players, parents and coaches need to understand that if efforts are not made off court with this part of the players’ tennis, how will they be able to cope with them in an on court competitive environment. Easy answer, they won’t.

For more articles and resources from the Bristol Uni Sport Tennis team, head over to Facebook and make sure to ‘like’ the page so you never miss any update!

BUCS season highlights: Blog takeover with Men’s Lacrosse (UBMLC)

We asked University of Bristol Men’s Lacrosse to look back at their BUCS season and give us their top highlights from the team. Keep scrolling for UBMLC #BUCSlookback.

UBMLC has had a fantastic season for Performance. The Men’s 1st team had a fourth consecutive unbeaten league win, securing themselves a spot in the national quarterfinals. They played at home against Loughborough, in aid of CoppoFeel. Four of our 1st team players attended England University trials (scroll down for photos) and three were selected for the squad!

Our 2nd team had a hard-fought season with some close games, eventually securing fourth place overall in the league, joint in points with the team in 3rd place.

Our 3rd team saw some of their first wins in seasons, which was amazing – even more so as they were a team of players who were all new to the sport and hadn’t played in matches before but were all keen to push themselves and become better players!

A highlight, as it is every year, was the first -team BUCS home game against Exeter, which was played in memory of Ottie Uden (a member of our sister club, UBLC) who sadly passed away.

Photos 1 and 2: National Cup quarterfinals at Coombe Dingle, played against Loughborough and raising money for CoppaFeel.

Photo 3: A pre-season friendly game against Camden Capybaras in London. A match including past, present and future UBMLC players followed by a social.

Photos 4 and 5: Our 1st team at their game against Exeter, which was played in memory of Ottie Uden – a member of UBLC (University of Bristol Women’s Lacrosse)

Photo 6: Our proud 2’s after defeating the University of Exeter for a second week in a row and securing joint 3rd in the league.

Photo 7: (Right to left) Aidan Hood, Matt Giudici, James Clemetson and Jack Severino at the England University trials – Aiden, Matt and James went on to secure a position on the England University Squad.

Photo 8: Our 1st team at their final game of the season after winning a fourth consecutive league title, unbeaten.

Photo 9: A happy 3rd team after ending a great season with many players having not played before.

Thanks to Smif Sports for some amazing photos this season!

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Email us your ideas! seh-comms@bristol.ac.uk

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