IT’S started! The Olympic flame has arrived and the games have begun.
Over the next fortnight people across the globe will watch, enthralled, as gymnasts twirl, pole vaulters soar, and sprinters explode from the blocks.
Athletes of all disciplines are coming together to compete at the very highest level – but these wonderferul sports are not just confined to elite sports stars.
There are many ways to get involved in an athletic sport at a club near you – and the benefits to health and fitness are endless.
Lorenzo Clark, director of operations at Sheffield International Venues, said: “Sheffield is fortunate to have many world-class sporting venues, such as Ponds Forge, Don Valley Stadium and the English Institute of Sport Sheffield, which provide training facilities for scores of elite athletes but also for the local community.
“For those inspired by the action at London 2012, the city’s venues offer sessions and coaching in more than 60 sports and activities, from athletics to diving and swimming to volleyball, delivered by top coaches to help improve fitness and develop skills.
“Whether you want expert-led coached sessions or lessons or to hire a court or pitch for a local team or one-off game, our venues across Sheffield offer something for everyone, no matter what age or ability.”
Fancy giving an Olympic sport a go? Visit www.cityofsport2012.co.uk to find your nearest sporting venue.
Tennis helps lower the body’s resting heart rate, increase bone density, reduce blood pressure, improve metabolic function, relieve stress, and reduce body fat.
It’s also good for your aerobic fitness, muscle tone and flexibility.
And if that’s not enough reason to take up the sport, it’s a great way to get a tan, as well as creating an outlet for your ruthless competitive side.
And you just can’t help but lose a bit of weight – playing singles for one hour burns approximately 600 calories in men and 420 calories in women, making it as effective as lifting weights or a spin class.
South Yorkshire is blessed with a wealth of tennis clubs – many offering coaching and lessons for all abilities and ages.
Log on to the website of the Sheffield and District Lawn Tennis Association, for a comprehensive list of clubs – www.sdlta.org.uk
This is great for heart and lung function and can tone the entire body. It’s especially good if you have knee problems as it does not impact your joints.
Lessons for all ages and abilities, including babies, children, adults and one-to-one private lessons, are available at Ponds Forge, Hillsborough Leisure Centre, Heeley Swimming Pool, Concord Sports Centre, Springs Leisure Centre and Graves Leisure Centre.
Find out more at www.sivltd.com/swimming or call Ponds Forge at 0114 223 3400.
Ponds Forge is one of the world’s best diving centres, and frequently hosts national and international tournaments.
This summer the centre is holding two three-day diving camps for children aged seven to 13 to try the sport, improve diving skills or become the next Nick Robinson-Baker. Professional coaches lead sessions using the spring boards and diving platforms, starting August 13 and August 20.
For details visit www.ponds-forge.co.uk/diving or call 0114 2233400.
Getting on your bike is good for the heart. A good pedal will tone your legs and help with your core stability.
It’s a high-calorie burner exercise, so prepare to drop a few pounds.
Cycling will help your stomach muscles and strengthen the upper body and arms.
Forget the exercise bike at the gym, get outside and explore the Peak District.
For help saddling up go to www.sheffield.gov.uk/cycling or call the Cyclists’ Touring Club on 0114 283 1412.
This is another total body workout. There is a huge variety of disciplines in gymnastics and most will help with upper body strength, balance and coordination.
Don Valley Stadium’s Gymnastics Academy holds classes ranging from pre-school to advanced and pre-squad where there is the opportunity to begin training with the City of Sheffield Gymnastics Squad.
Visit www.donvalleystadium.co.uk/gymnastics_academy_squad or call 0114 2233600.
All that heave-ho-ing is fantastic for stomach muscles, legs, arms – in fact the whole body.
It’s another high-calorie burner, so expect to shed some weight.
The rowing machine at the gym is one way to get into the sport but you’re much better off getting into a club where you can be in the great outdoors, take in some fresh air and meet new people out on the same mission.
Sheffield City Rowing Club trains on the beautiful Damflask Reserviour, surrounded by hills and woodlands, and has strong junior and veterans’ sections.
Call Sheffield City RC on 0114 2851919.
If you’re after a good hit of endorphins running is your game.
You’ll get what they call the ‘runner’s high’ after a trot around the block.
Running is excellent for your leg muscles and a great way to lose weight.
Getting out of the door is the hardest part of running, so doing it with others will be a motivator, and if you want to avoid wear and tear on joints, run on grass or a track.
To join a club and get inspired, visit www.hallamshireharriers.co.uk
Train on the same tracks as Jessica Ennis at the English Institute of Sport Sheffield.
SIV offers athletics sessions that offer a taste of all athletics disciplines, for people of all ages. Call them on 0114 2235600.
The City of Sheffield Athletics Club can be contacted via www.sheffieldathletics.co.uk
If you want to give your legs a workout, then horse riding will do it. It’ll help with your core strength because your whole body has to work to keep you balanced.
Get out in the open air, at one with nature and your horse.
Smeltings Farm Riding Centre, on the western edge of the city, offers lessons and courses. Visit www.equestrian-training.co.uk or call 0114 2307661.
This contact sport is great for your strength, flexibility and cardiovascular health.
It’s also a surefire way to meet people – there’s nothing like wrestling someone to the ground to get to know them!
Importantly, it’s a way of building your confidence and ability in self-defence. It’s known for instilling a sense of mental toughness and discipline.
Hillsborough Judo Club trains every Friday – visit hillsboroughjudoclub.onsport.com or call 07771 922837.
There’s great camaraderie in team sports.
It is social and competitive, not to mention great for toning leg muscles and getting fit.
Learning to control the ball will also improve your motor skills.
Football helps to increase endorphins, which make moods stable and can alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
To find a club visit the Sheffield and Hallamshire FA at www.sheffieldfa.com
Fencing is a great cardiovascular exercise as it’s fast- paced.
It improves coordination, strength and flexibility because of the different positions and movements used throughout the body.
Training for this sport can be an aid to developing judgment and deduction skills, as you have to anticipate your opponent’s moves.
Sheffield Sword Club is open to fencers of all abilities who want to learn the basics.
The next eight-week beginners course starts on September 8.
Log on to www.sheffieldswordclub.co.uk or email email@example.com
Since the 1960s teams have competed in the Sheffield Basketball League every week.
Teams currently meet at the English Institute of Sport in Attercliffe.
To find a team visit www.sheffieldbasketball.co.uk/get-involved/findateam
Generations of Steel City youngsters have shown their mettle in the ring – Herol Graham, Johnny Nelson, Prince Naseem, Clinton Woods, Kell Brook, Kid Galahad... the list goes on.
The success of boxing in Sheffield is down to the city’s great gyms and legendary trainers.
Be in great company and sign up at one of the training centres.
There are too many gyms in Sheffield to list all of them, but here are a few:
Brendan Ingle’s St Thomas Boys and Girls Club in Wincobank 0114 2811277;
Glyn Rhodes’ Sheffield Boxing Centre in Hillsborough 07747 070783;
EISS Boxing Club runs every Tuesday and Thursday and the ladies-only club on Wednesdays 0114 2235600;
For more clubs, visit the Amateur Boxing Association of England weebsite – www.abae.co.uk
Courts can be hired for one-off games at Springs Leisure Centre, Westfield Sports Centre, Graves, Concord and Ponds Forge.
Brunswick Badminton Club, at EIS Sheffield, runs sessions for players of a high competitive standard.
To find your nearest club playing in the Badminton Sheffield League visit www.sheffbad.co.uk