LIFESTYLE

'Project Awesome' Is Keeping Londoners Fit For Free With Water Fights, High Fives And A Lot Of Love

10/07/2015 17:07 BST | Updated 10/07/2015 17:59 BST

There's no denying that London is having something of a fitness revolution. Everywhere you turn there's a yogi in neon leggings or a boutique gym offering crazy workouts.

But sadly, while exercise is vital for all of us to lead healthy, happy lives, not everyone can afford a spinning class at £20-a-pop.

Thankfully that's where Danny Bent comes in.

In August 2014, the energetic 36-year-old founded Project Awesome, a positive community fitness drive offering upbeat exercise classes to Londoners for free.

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Danny Bent, founder of Project Awesome

Inspired by a similar project in the US, the November Project, Danny, who is a motivational speaker, decided to start pumping some of his excess energy (trust me, there's a lot of it) into helping others keep fit.

At 6:30am three times a week - on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays - Danny hosts free fitness classes around the capital, whatever the weather.

He tries to keep classes fun and spontaneous to keep people coming back. Monday morning class locations are kept a secret until the Friday before - they've included an underground station ("We got in a bit of trouble for this") and a bridge - while his favourite session to date is a giant water fight on Primrose Hill during a heatwave.

For the first three months only 1-4 people showed up to each session, but the community has grown exponentially - his biggest class recently welcomed 107 people.

"What happened was that a community was born - bearing all my ideals and aspirations for humanity. People feel safe to be themselves which is why they keep coming back," he tells HuffPost UK Lifestyle.

"They spend one hour every Monday, Wednesday, Friday smiling and laughing with friends whilst 'accidentally' getting super badass fit. It's a community that finds the chinks of rainbow within a city that can be predominantly grey."

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Project Awesome in action at London's Southbank

The Project Awesome community has grown to over 4,500 social media followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The reason for the project's growing success if simple: his sessions do not discriminate. Everyone is welcome, regardless of their fitness level or pay check, and what's more, Danny gets results - drawn in by the mixture of fun classes and a warm atmosphere, those who are normally averse to fitness are inspired to push themselves.

One of Project Awesome's success stories is Laura. Before her first session she could barely run without getting out of breath, six months later she'd completed her first half marathon and now she's signed up for three full marathons in 2016.

"My first session was exactly six months before my 30th birthday and shuffling my body at a slightly increased speed was about to kill me. I walked like a stiff awkward robot for four days afterwards and then decided to go back the next week," she tells HuffPost UK Lifestyle.

"I stumbled along for a while in this way, feeling a little less like I was about to have a heart-attack each week I went until, on November 17th, I made the all-important decision to go for a run myself, in my own time. It was at this point that Project Awesome had started to creep into my 'normal' life."

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Danny and Laura

It was the Project Awesome community spirit that pushed Laura to succeed.

"When you begin this type of thing, you need people who do know what they're doing to cheer you on. They know that with a bit of persistence, you can succeed - because anyone can," she says.

"As a newbie, you don't know this about yourself so you could quite easily give up. The reason you won't is that a group of people who like you, who want to celebrate your successes with you and who want you to do well, are waiting at another beautiful location somewhere in London at 6.30am to fill your morning with affection and high fives and coffee and breakfast."

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Greg, 26, project manager who lives in Borough, London, is another unlikely fitness convert: "I’m not a morning person, but the idea of being injected with a doze of endorphins, in a company of some of the most inspirational people I’ve met, gets me out of bed two or three times a week. It’s very addictive. It’s the only addiction I know that is actually good for you!"

For now Project Awesome only operate in London, but Danny has big plans to expand across the country over the next 12 months: "I'd like to make something like ParkRun but much cooler, edgier, louder and colourful!"

For more details on the classes on offer, visit their website.

As part of HuffPost’s What’s Working initiative, we’re profiling inspirational people and organisations who are making a positive contribution to society by finding solutions to the world’s problems.

Whether that’s making recycled yoga pants to combat the world's landfill problem, or creating a petition to ensure homeless women have access to sanitary products, we’re keen to share these stories. If you know of a someone who fits the bill, or would like to be featured, email us at ukwhatsworking@huffingtonpost.com.