Job search
Job Search

free2cycle: Swapping a sedentary lifestyle and commute for an active one

In a time when more jobs are sedentary than ever before, Eric Craig, CEO of free2cycle, is harnessing the daily commute to get workers active – by giving them bikes that they pay for via miles pedalled

Published in Sports Management 2018 issue 3
Read on turning pages | Download PDF of this issue
Eric Craig, CEO of free2cycle
Eric Craig, CEO of free2cycle

When Eric Craig founded free2cycle in 2017 he had one objective in mind; to make the UK healthy again. The endless news stories about rising obesity rates (the UK is now the sixth most overweight country in the world), poor employee wellbeing and the poor state of the environment made for grim reading and he wanted to change this decline.

Craig set up free2cycle, a new social enterprise committed to transforming wellbeing through cycling, which works in partnership with organisations to improve engagement, health, wellbeing and the environment.

Sports Management caught up with Eric to discuss what needs to change, and how organisations can better motivate people to swap a sedentary lifestyle and commute for an active one.

What is free2cycle?
In today’s ‘always on’ society, people just don’t have the time to fit everything they want into their home life and careers. So, they make sacrifices – such as eating healthily or making time for exercise. Organisations can help change this attitude with the old carrot and stick approach.

We know cycle-to-work schemes have had some success and are particularly attractive to higher earners, and we are supportive of any initiatives that get people active. We do need to face facts, however. After being around since the 90s, only around four per cent of people use their cycle-to-work scheme bike on a regular basis, and that’s simply not good enough! It may just be sitting in a garage somewhere, gathering dust. That’s why free2cycle is different, it rewards people for using their bike and exercising.

We work with organisations to provide their team with bikes, which individuals earn by riding them rather than paying for them. The individual pledges and commits to cycling at least 20 miles per week. If they achieve most of their pledge, they should never have to pay a penny for their bike and will be offered a new one every four years.

In order to make a step change, you need to make this a win-win for all and that’s exactly what free2cycle is focused on doing. Organisations only fund positive behaviour with measurable results, so they never waste a penny, and with our approach, they earn substantial, direct benefits.

What are you aiming to achieve?
Every day we hear horror stories about the state of the UK workforce. It’s unfit, unproductive and unwell. During 2016 to 2017, 12.5 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety. Meanwhile, it’s been estimated that the NHS could save £11 billion by integrating physical and mental health care. Add to the mix the issues of growing financial pressures, especially on Generation X and Millennials, and the toxic effects of pollution, which now account for 40,000 deaths per year, and you start to build a picture of the dangers individuals face on a daily basis. Something needs to give.

So, together with a great team, I set up free2cycle to drive a step-change in wellbeing, notably focusing on behaviour change around exercise. Cycling is a passion of mine but it’s also been proven in countless studies that regular cycling substantially lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and premature death. I want others to feel the benefits I do.

How can an active commute benefit organisations?
Getting active will solve a lot of the UK’s problems, both for individuals and organisations. First off, we’re more productive when we’re fitter. We’re also more well in ourselves; which in turn reduces the likelihood of sick days.

A regular exercise routine can also make us happier, smarter and more energetic, whilst also being good for mental health. Aerobic exercises, such as jogging, cycling and dancing have been proven to reduce anxiety and depression, as they cause an increase in blood to the brain and influence the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which in turn triggers a natural physiological reaction to stress.

The issue for most is fitting exercise into their hectic daily schedules. The obvious, no-brainer solution is to work that activity into a daily routine or the journey to work. We’re looking to encourage people to give up the bus or the car and cycle to work instead. The average UK commute is 29 minutes, but many could easily swap gridlocked traffic jams for an active commute, if only they gave it a chance. It would do wonders for their health, and would benefit the environment too.

Our app allows users to log how far they’ve cycled, either to work or for leisure. This enables them to track the positive impact on the environment, with the app calculating how much carbon has been offset against each mile pedalled, via reduced car and public transport journeys. For organisations, this comprehensive reporting provides measurable results towards Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) pledges, along with the associated benefits to local air quality.

How can organisations encourage a healthy lifestyle?
Encouraging individuals to get healthier doesn’t necessarily need to centre on the commute – it just so happens it kills two birds with one stone. What organisations need to do is encourage behaviour change around exercise, whether by encouraging a 15 minute lunchtime walk, or implementing workplace exercise leagues. It’s about giving individuals the time and opportunity to get fit, as that is how we’ll reverse our productivity and wellness malaise. I know the benefits I feel from regular exercise, so if it could help a fraction of people who don’t currently exercise but are able to, then that’s a start.

Case study: YellowDog

YellowDog CEO Gareth Williams offers free2cycle to employees
YellowDog CEO Gareth Williams offers free2cycle to employees

YellowDog is an award-winning startup based in Bristol. As a fast growing tech company, its founder and CEO, Gareth Williams, wanted to use employee benefits to recruit, engage and retain his amazing workforce.The innovative business already offers a range of attractive benefits, including an extra day of holiday for employees on their birthday, fruit in the office, beers on a Friday afternoon, access to SETsquared (the global number one university-backed incubator), training workshops and facilities, and a generous pension. However, there were no benefits that helped those employees who wanted to be active.When he heard about free2cycle’s proposition, he thought it was “magic”, as swapping miles pedalled for a new bike was a great way to engage new people with cycling.The take-up in his business has beaten expectations. Despite it being introduced in the middle of winter (December 2017), 20 per cent of the workforce has already signed up, with the business now using it as a recruitment differentiator.

Sign up for FREE ezines & magazines
Sports jobs
Everyone Active
featured job

Swimming Teachers

Everyone Active
Salary: Competitive hourly rate
Job location: Nationwide


Lex Leisure
Salary: Competitive
Location: Barnstaple, UK


Lex Leisure
Salary: Competitive
Location: Erith, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

Salary: Up to £7.96 per hour
Location: Appleby-in-Westmorland, UK

Duty Manager

Mytime Active
Salary: £19,000 - £20,002 per annum
Location: Kent, UK

Insight Manager

Women in Sport
Salary: £32,000 - £35,000
Location: London, UK

Swimming Pool Duty Manager

Millfield School
Salary: Competitive
Location: Street, UK

Head Green Keeper

Mytime Active
Salary: £25,000 - £28,000 per annum
Location: Orpington, UK

Green Keeper

Mytime Active
Salary: Up to £18,000 per annum
Location: Orpington, UK


Everyone Active
Salary: Competitive rate of pay
Location: Chichester, UK
recruiting with sports management


Mytime Active
Salary: £21,000 - £24k
Location: Bromley, UK

Front of House Receptionist

Everyone Active
Salary: Competitive rate of pay
Location: Burton upon Trent, UK

Recreation Assistant

Everyone Active
Salary: Competitive rate of pay
Location: Burton upon Trent, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

Salary: Up to £10.20 per hour
Location: Ruislip, UK

General Manager

Salary: Up to £39,820 per annum
Location: Reading, UK

Sports Development Officer

Ashlyns School
Salary: Competitive
Location: Berkhamsted, UK

Duty Officer

Rubicon Leisure
Salary: £20,541 - £23,866 per annum
Location: Redditch, UK
recruiting with sports management

National Training Co-ordinator

Wheels for All
Salary: £20,384 a FTE of £25,480
Location: Warrington, UK

Reception Supervisor

Letchworth Sports and Tennis Club
Salary: £18,720 to £19,760
Location: Letchworth Garden City, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

Salary: Up to £10.20 per hour
Location: West Ealing, London, UK

Leisure Assistant

Circadian Leisure Trust
Salary: £7.90 - £8.45 per hour
Location: Kingswood, Bristol, UK

Assistant Sports and Leisure Manager

Away Resorts
Salary: Competitive
Location: Hayling Island, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

Salary: Up to £16,187 per annum
Location: Taunton, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

Salary: Up to £16,187 per annum
Location: Wellington, Somerset, UK
training with sports management

General Manager

The Gym Group
Salary: Competitive Salary and Benefits
Location: West Hampstead, London, UK

Commercial Administration Support

Parkwood Leisure
Salary: Competitive
Location: Worcester, UK

Assistant General Manager

The Gym Group
Salary: Competitive Salary and Benefits
Location: Bloomsbury, London, UK

Casual Recreation Assistants

Legacy Leisure
Salary: £6.15 to £8.21 per hour
Location: Kidlington, UK

Sports Centre Manager

Ecclesbourne School
Salary: Competitive
Location: Duffield, Belper, UK

Greens Keeper (Fixed Term)

Salary: Up to £21,460 per annum
Location: Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard) -Training Offered

Salary: Up to £21,284 per annum
Location: Ealing, West London
lifeguard jobs  Swimming Teacher jobs  apprenticeships jobs  recreation assistant jobs  Gymnastics Coach jobs  membership consultant jobs  Swimming Instructor jobs  general manager jobs  General Assistant jobs  duty manager jobs  fitness instructor jobs  Leisure Assistant jobs  Customer Advisor jobs  Club Manager jobs  Team Leader jobs 
More jobs

Catalogue Gallery

BSW: BSW is a manufacturer of sports floorings, sports mats, gym flooring, elastomer products for impact sound insulation and vibration isolation, anti-slip mats for securing loads as well as protective and separating layers.
JP Lennard: Leading supplier to Commercial Swimming Pools, Leisure Centres, Health & Fitness Clubs, Hotels, Holiday Parks, Schools and Universities, supplying thousands of products directly into these sectors.
More catalogues

Video Gallery

Tracking your workout effort just became effortless.
Visit website
More videos

Company profile

Company profile: Rubb Buildings Ltd
Rubb Buildings Ltd designs and manufactures relocatable, semi-permanent and permanent fabric engineered specialist sports buildings.
View full profile >
More company profiles

Featured Supplier

Dave Wright introduces Myzone's MZ-Motion
Myzone welcomes the latest feature, MZ-Motion, into the Myzone product portfolio.
View full details >
More featured suppliers

Property & Tenders

Location: Huddersfield
Company: Kirklees Active Leisure
Location: New Brighton, Wirral, Merseyside
Company: Wirral Borough Council
Location: Waterlooville Hampshire
Company: Horizon Leisure Centres
Location: Various Sites
Company: Porters Commercial
More properties & tenders

Diary dates

27-28 Mar 2019
Eastwood Hall, Nottingham, United Kingdom
24-25 Apr 2019
Business Design Centre, London, United Kingdom
05-10 May 2019
Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, Queensland, Australia
08-09 May 2019
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
More diary dates