Press Release

Prof Greg Whyte OBE and Kevin Cahill CBE

launch free virtual ‘couch to exercise’ programme

Professor Greg Whyte, OBE, and Kevin Cahill, CBE, the former CEO and Honorary Life President of Sport Relief, have joined forces again to launch a new, free, not for profit, online ‘couch to exercise’ initiative in a bid to combat inactivity in the UK.

RISE, which launches in February, will use bespoke training programmes created by Whyte to connect with the UK’s 11.3 million inactive population via an online platform, donated by virtual exercise hosting specialist, Venueserve Fitness.

The non-for-profit RISE initiative consists of three six-week programmes offering gentle and targeted progression throughout each stage. Block one is chair based exercise. Block two is very low intensity interval activity, and stage three is low intensity interval activity.  It also has a yoga-based programme, focusing on agility, and a mindfulness programme. The programme includes a variety of expert personal trainers, including Greg Whyte and was filmed at the studios of the Marlow Club.

Whyte says: “Having previously worked closely on the ‘couch to 5k’ initiative, I realised even this programmes assumes a level of confidence and physical literacy to take the steps to exercise. RISE is different. Our approach is ‘couch to the front door’. RISE doesn’t assume its users have any pre-conditioning, any self-confidence or even self-esteem related to exercise. It really is taking a step back in order to move forward.

“We plan to promote RISE through the use of celebrity endorsements and promotions, which will help inspire the inactive population to give it a go. We are hopeful one million people will complete the 18-week programme, which will ultimately funnel participants in to more mainstream physical activity.”

Lee Booth, Founder and CEO of Venueserve Fitness, which offers a white-labelled virtual exercise platform to health club operators, giving them the opportunity to brand it in their own way, says: “We are passionate about physical activity being used for social good, and were inspired by the RISE initiative to design, build and film the bespoke training programme on our white-label online platform.”

Cahill says: “One of our motivations for RISE is that the COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to cause havoc to the wellbeing of our society. We will be feeling the aftermath of COVID, in the form of mental as well as physical health problems, for a long time. Exercise, as we know, can help with the wellbeing of both our mind and body, and an accessible programme needs to be in place to support people willing to give it a go. RISE removes walls to participation by being free and keeping the format simple. RISE will help people feel more centred and to feel better about themselves.”

Jon Williams, CEO, Marlow Club says: “It was great to see Greg and the team create such meaningful and worthwhile content at our club.  We are proud to be associated with this non for-profit campaign and will continue to support and promote RISE.”