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Be Military Fit, or BMF, is a private company which runs outdoor group fitness classes in 140 public parks and outdoor spaces across the United Kingdom. The classes are predominantly led by former or serving members of the British Armed Forces.

BMF was founded in 1999 as British Military Fitness and pioneered the concept of group classes for outdoor fitness in the United Kingdom. In September 2018 it was purchased by NM Capital and Bear Grylls Ventures and re-branded as Be Military Fit.



British Military Fitness (BMF) was founded in 1999 by retired Major Robin Cope (Anglians), Corporal Harry Sowerby (4RGJ) and Corporal William Skinner (10 Para). The idea was born on the film set of Saving Private Ryan in October 1998. Robin Cope suggested the idea of training civilians in parks. He thought that an added emphasis should be made on providing motivation, which was lacking in the majority of those who work out in gyms. Harry Sowerby had just completed his Reservist Army Physical Training Instructors course (PTI) and along with Will Skinner agreed to join with Robin in this new venture. Each invested £1000, so with a total of £3000 BMF was launched. £1000 was spent on some second hand computers, some money was spent on class equipment like mats and numbered bibs and £1000 was spent on one Evening Standard advert. The first-ever BMF class was held in Hyde Park in April or June 1999 (sources vary) and attracted three or ten clients (sources vary). By the end of the year, there were 200 members.[1][2][3][4][5]

The company expanded rapidly, requiring significant investment in 2002 to avoid bankruptcy.[1] Growth accelerated across the United Kingdom in the mid 2000s, and a spin-off launched in South Africa in 2008.[1] The classes and brand name became recognisable around the country, pioneering the growth in the market for outdoor fitness group classes.[2][6][7][8][9] The company innovated training and partnerships in the industry and expanded into events and fitness holidays.[10][11][12][13][14] By 2010 there were 16,000 members at 100 parks,[15] and in 2016 BMF was training 13,000 people weekly, having expanded its venues to 140 parks around the UK.[16]

In September 2018, British Military Fitness was purchased by NM Capital and Bear Grylls Ventures and re-branded as Be Military Fit, still using the acronym BMF. It is Europe’s largest outdoor fitness company, training 30,000 people annually.[17][18]


Each lesson lasts approximately sixty minutes, and, in order to cater for all abilities, classes are broken up into three ability groups indicated by the wearing of coloured bibs: blue for beginners, red for intermediates and green for advanced.[19][20]

The first ten minutes of a class are spent warming up, before fifty minutes of intense fitness exercises, which can vary from circuit training, relays, sprints, military activities and team games. The class is punctuated by a quick water break at the midpoint and ends with a five-minute cool-down and stretching session.[19][21]

Unlike the controlled environment of a gym, lessons vary from class to class with instructors making full use of the surrounding features of the park. Alongside the military fitness classes, BMF also offers running clubs in certain locations.[22]

See also[edit]


  • ^ a b c “British Military Fitness: Robin Cope”. Startups. 24 August 2011. Retrieved cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:”””””””‘””‘”}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-free a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-free a{background-image:url(“//”);background-image:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url(“//”);background-repeat:no-repeat;background-size:9px;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .id-lock-registration a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-registration a{background-image:url(“//”);background-image:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url(“//”);background-repeat:no-repeat;background-size:9px;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-subscription a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-subscription a{background-image:url(“//”);background-image:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url(“//”);background-repeat:no-repeat;background-size:9px;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background-image:url(“//”);background-image:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url(“//”);background-repeat:no-repeat;background-size:12px;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:none;color:#33aa33;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .citation .mw-selflink{font-weight:inherit}
  • ^ a b “British Military Fitness Co-Founder Harry Sowerby”. Coach. 20 September 2016. Retrieved 2018-10-02.
  • ^ “How do you score?”. Evening Standard. 5 May 2004. Retrieved 2018-10-03.
  • ^ “Fit For Role – Careers in Health and Fitness” (PDF). Easy Resettlement. Autumn 2013. pp. 14–15. Retrieved 2018-10-04.
  • ^ Hatcher, Bonnie. “How British Military Fitness Began”. Retrieved 2018-10-07.
  • ^ “Getting fit the military way on Southsea Common”. Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  • ^ “‘We still come if the rain’s sideways’ – how Britain fell in love with outdoor fitness”. The Guardian. 30 August 2016. Retrieved 2018-10-04.
  • ^ Dean, Sam (15 January 2017). “Rise in outdoor gyms signals a muscling-up of the outdoor fitness industry”. The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-10-04.
  • ^ “How new outdoor bootcamps are kicking Londoners into shape”. Evening Standard. 21 August 2017. Retrieved 2018-10-02.
  • ^ Lombard, Daniel “British Military Fitness gets ex-homeless to exercise”, “Community Care”, 2008-09-24 retrieved on 2008-10-10
  • ^ “Military fitness: sun, sea and sweat”. The Independent. 4 January 2012. Retrieved 2018-10-04.
  • ^ “BMF first to receive ukactive Outdoor Code of Practice certification”. Health Club Management. 2015-01-20. Retrieved 2018-10-07.
  • ^ “BMF becomes preferred career supplier for ex armed forces personnel”. Attractions Management. 23 January 2015. Retrieved 2018-10-04.
  • ^ “Active IQ collaborates with British Military Fitness to launch Level 4 Strength and Conditioning certificate”. Active IQ. 30 March 2017. Retrieved 2018-10-04.
  • ^ “How to succeed as a fitness chief”. Evening Standard. 2 August 2010. Retrieved 2018-10-03.
  • ^ “Changing of the guard as British Military Fitness founder takes MD post”. Health Club Management. 17 March 2015. Retrieved 2018-10-04.
  • ^ Mark Hookham, Nicholas Hellen and (30 September 2018). “Bear Grylls gets military fitness firm in shape by shedding British connection”. The Sunday Times. ISSN 0956-1382. Retrieved 2018-10-02.
  • ^ “BMF teams up with Bear Grylls and rebrands as ‘Be Military Fit'”. Health Club Management. 27 September 2018. Retrieved 2018-10-04.
  • ^ a b “Why BMF”. Retrieved 2018-10-02.
  • ^ Williams, Zoe (7 April 2018). “Fit in my 40s: ‘British Military Fitness reminded me of being in labour'”. The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-10-02.
  • ^ Rogers, Hannah (2018-10-13). “Squirrel leaps and shouting — my outdoor exercise session with Bear Grylls”. The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  • ^ “People profile: Bear Grylls”. Health Club Management. 2018. Retrieved 2019-04-16.
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