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Cell Workout closes in on funding target

Prison fitness guru LJ Flanders is closing in on a crowdfunding target to launch the MADE IN HMP brand to raise funds to deliver more fitness workshops for prisoners.

LJ devised his own personal workout regime while detained inside HMP Pentonville and HMP Highpoint and he later collated them into a book, ‘Cell Workout’, which was published in 2015 after his release from jail.

LJ needed help devising his Cell Workout fitness regime to make it appropriate for the prison environment and population and to maximise its impact. He sought the advice of the Alliance of Sport because of our expertise in framing sport-based programmes in criminal justice settings.

Now he is focussed on a project to:

  • Launch Cell Workout’s MADE IN HMP brand.
  • Generate profits from T-shirt sales to support their workshop delivery promoting health and well-being in prison.
  • Provide work to the prisoners who produce the T-shirts enabling them to develop their skills.
  • Generate publicity to support workshops and raise interest in their work.
  • Provide women in HMP Downview and in HMP Eastwood Park with tracksuits to help them keep fit and improve their morale

LJ is nearing his target of £10,400, and has already triggered match-funding of £5000 from Forward Trust. He says: “We don’t want to let up momentum. It hasn’t been the perfect time to launch a Crowdfunder but I haven’t let that stop me!”

LJ has already attracted national interest via a Daily Telegraph article which illustrated that LJ’s workout regime could also be applied to anyone who currently in lockdown as well as those in prison.

Alliance of Sport has been a key supporter of LJ’s when he sought advice on making his workout more appropriate for the prison environment. It was vital for LJ to ensure his course would contribute real value to the inmates’ rehabilitation and had measurable effects on their engagement, physical and mental wellbeing and individual development. The Alliance of Sport’s Theory of Change helped him achieve that. Its guidance for how sport can achieve maximum impact on rehabilitating offenders helped formulate LJ’s groundbreaking workshops to deliver lasting behaviour changes among the inmates.

LJ’s programme has also been the subject of a research paper by Dr Hannah Baumer. As part of her PhD in the School of Law at Royal Holloway, University of London, Dr Baumer carried out an evaluation of the Cell Workout Workshops in HMP Wandsworth (*Baumer & Meek, 2019). The evaluation concludes that through the creation of a supportive environment which endorses choice and control, allows for skill development and provides a sense of affinity, the workshops promoted prisoners’ motivation to engage in healthy behaviours in a way that is rarely encountered in prison.

These outcomes highlight the potential for sport-based interventions in prisons to improve prisoners’ mental well-being as well as their physical fitness, whilst promoting motivation to engage in further health-related and risk-reducing behaviours.

* Baumer, H., & Meek, R. (2019). Motivating prisoners to exercise: An evaluation of the Cell Workout Workshops. In G. Breslin, & G. Leavey (Eds.), Mental Health and Wellbeing Interventions in Sport: Research, Theory and Practice. Routledge.

For some video content shot in prison, click here.

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