#BigSquat in Bournemouth

Bournemouth beach was occupied by squatters this weekend – but all for a good cause.

Saturday morning saw fitness professionals, gym enthusiasts and passers-by taking part in a fun charity squatting contest called the Big Squat.

The event was organised by Bournemouth-based charity Toilet Twinning which raises funds to help families in the developing world build their own toilets and stop having to squat in the bush.

Local gyms fielded teams made up of staff and members, while passers-by were invited to take part too. Contestants had to complete as many squats as possible in timed heats, with prizes awarded for ‘Best Squatter in Town’, ‘Best Squatting Team in Town’ and ‘Best Amateur Squatter’.

The best professional was Andy Tipsana of Urban Health and Fitness, who completed 232 squats in three minutes in his best round. His gym also won the best team prize, beating teams from BH Live and DW Fitness First. The winner in the ‘Best Amateur Squatter’ category was nine-year-old Alfie Holmwood from Bournemouth, who totted up 157 squats in two minutes.

Over the 90 minutes of the contest, 32 participants totted up 4,391 squats, ‘the second-most taxing bodyweight exercise after the burpee’, according to Lewy Blackmore of BH Live.

For each £60 the teams raised in sponsorship, participants were awarded a Toilet Twinning certificate, showing the photograph of a toilet in a poor community that has been built through Toilet Twinning’s projects.

Event organiser Achim Kram, Toilet Twinning’s Head of Marketing, said: ‘We’re so grateful to everyone who gave up their morning to take part. In the places where we work, a simple latrine is literally a lifesaver so our contestants can be proud they’ve changed lives for ever.’

Participants had had various amounts of experience of living without sanitation, but all could appreciate the importance of having a toilet. Chris Pazienti of BH Live had suffered ‘cold showers and loos that were just a hole in the ground’ during a martial arts trip to China. ‘It definitely made me appreciate my loo at home,’ he said.

Physiotherapist Charlotte Bingham-Wallis from Essex was somewhat surprised to find that her visit to Bournemouth with friend Alice Bagshaw from Bude included squatting on the beach. ‘When I was in the Amazon, there were monkeys around, so squatting in the bush was actually quite dangerous,’ said Charlotte. ‘We definitely take our loos for granted in this country.’

Manoj Patel, Director of Urban Health and Fitness, said, ‘I’ve been to India which has large areas where poverty is rife and the disparity between rich and poor is shocking. It’s good to be involved in something fun and competitive that brings awareness of something that’s so important.’

The event kickstarts a national #BigSquat campaign encouraging people to organise their own quirky fundraiser for Toilet Twinning before World Toilet Day (19 November).