ParkLives is all about making the most of our parks and green spaces, by delivering fun and free physical activity sessions that everyone can enjoy – including MPs.

So when local authorities and Coca-Cola Great Britain spotted a lush patch of grass outside the Houses of Parliament – New Palace Yard – they couldn’t resist putting on a special session for the nation’s publically elected officials.

Photos: ParkLives at Parliament

Session leaders from all over the country came down to the iconic London location to put members of Parliament through their paces, and showcase the range of activities ParkLives has to offer. Taster sessions included hula-hooping, short tennis, boot camp, Tai Chi and, of course, rugby. Among the MPs who attended was Mayor of London Boris Johnson MP, who enjoyed a few tips on passing and catching a rugby ball from special guests and Rugby World Cup winners Mike Tindall and Natasha Hunt.

“As we approach the start of Rugby World Cup 2015, what better way to capture the spirit and excitement by encouraging people of all ages out into their local parks to try their hand at rugby and a whole range of different sports,” said the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP. “Any opportunity for Londoners to get active should be welcomed, especially when it’s on their doorstep and provides the chance to get involved in ParkLives’ free sports and activities.”

Geremy Sagoe, Public Affairs and Policy Officer, ukactive

Representatives from ukactive, the not-for-profit trade body for the physical activity sector who oversee the ParkLives evaluation panel, were there to promote the benefits of physical activity: “About 29% of people in England are classed as physically inactive, meaning they fail to do thirty minutes of moderate physical activity in a week,” explained Public Affairs and Policy Officer, Geremy Sagoe. “So for us it’s a national problem, and what we love about ParkLives is that it addresses that with free, community-run initiatives, and it targets some of the most disengaged and inactive people.”

Stephanie Greenhorn, ParkLives Coordinator, Glasgow (right)

Stephanie Greenhorn, a ParkLives coordinator from Glasgow, who was there to teach MPs how to hula hoop, revealed how the scheme has benefited her area: “Glasgow is full of open spaces, which aren’t very well used, so doing this sort of thing with ParkLives really brings people in. We have activities for all kinds of people, and it attracts a mix of ages. We try and focus on who’s using the parks at what times of the day, so we can understand the community and make it work better for them.”

Dawn Davis from Newham

Dawn Davis, a local resident from Newham, who’s featured in ParkLives’ advertising campaign, also came along to the session: “It feels surreal to be featured in the advert. You open the page and there’s my picture. I mainly do the boot camp classes because they’re right next to my office, so there’s no excuse! When I first went in January the park was ice-cold and dark, and I hadn’t done exercise like that in years. But I really enjoyed it and had such a laugh with the session leader, so I kept going back.”

From Nottingham City Council, one of the newest boroughs to welcome the ParkLives scheme, Community Sport and Physical Activity Officer Alex Brown said: “ParkLives has worked really well this year, and we’ve had a good outcome with getting people active who’d normally be sitting at home on their computer. In areas with high anti-social behaviour, our session leaders have managed to get people involved every week, and try a bit of rounders and other outdoor gym activities.”

ParkLives is currently running in Newcastle, Birmingham, Newham (London), and for the first time this year, Nottingham, Glasgow and Manchester. It’s at the heart of Coca-Cola Great Britain’s commitment to help get one million people active by 2020, and there are plans to get the scheme in more cities next year.

“ParkLives provides a free and fun way for people to get outside and get active. People of all ages and abilities can take part in the sessions available in their area,” said Liz Lowe, ParkLives lead at Coca-Cola Great Britain. “It was fantastic to get the opportunity to showcase ParkLives to MPs, and demonstrate what this programme has to offer to people right across the country.”

Find out how you can take part, and register at