MEET OUR
2019 CHOSEN
HEROES

Ahead of  Wednesday 25 September, we wanted to know about anyone inspiring others to get active,
in an effort to shine a light on their amazing stories.
We had a lot of you get in touch, far and wide, wanting to be one of our chosen #Fitness2Me Heroes
Congratulations to these amazing individuals.
Stay tuned, as we reveal more heroes next week so you can read their inspirational stories
as we get ready for the most active day of the year!

Joanne Lambert

Name: Joanne Lambert

My Fitness2Me story:

Fitness is important to me as it has given me my life back and through my own experience it now enables me as a volunteer to help others with their health and fitness.

Around 12 months ago, I was medically retired early from my much-loved job of 30 years, after undergoing major surgery and was also diagnosed with quite a few musculoskeletal problems. Hitting menopause age at the same time was also an added blow both physically and emotionally.

Not one to give in, I took the step to find what activities I could safely do and was referred by my GP to a local council-run fitness programme whereby some amazing specialised fitness instructors introduced me to one of their many different classes – one of them being aqua stride classes and also stability/mobility classes which is the best thing that could have happened to me.

Within the past 12 months, thanks to these fantastic people, my fitness, mobility and strength has improved along with my emotional wellbeing. It has given me a new lease of life, although some days I do still struggle.

I decided to see if I could help others to try to inspire them with my own journey to show them what they can achieve. I was asked to be a volunteer for the scheme that helped me and I now very proudly and humbly help and guide others through their journey and give them confidence with a bit of fun also added in the mix. I now guide people after their 12-week course of aqua mobility by doing a class with them to keep them maintaining their fitness so they do not give it up. I have seen such a change in me and now I’m privileged to see how others are benefiting and improving each week on their own journeys.

I believe fitness is for every one of every age and ability, both physically and mentally. It improves wellbeing enormously, which has positive impact for the person themselves and has proven to reduce trips to doctors and reduced medication in some cases. I love what I'm doing, it helped me massively and it's given me my life back.

Chiara Albrizio

Name: Chiara Albrizio

My Fitness2Me story:

Let me start by saying I do not feel like a hero. I am just a woman that for the first time took a good look in the mirror and decided that she loved herself enough to make a change to her lifestyle. In that moment, I decided I would hire a personal trainer to help me to get my fitness back and lose weight. It started as a size goal but it became a passion and my new profession.

It took the best part of five years to reach my ‘size’ goal, but it wasn't enough. I realised that fitness is not only a means to get fitter, lose weight and look better but also to acquire skills, pride, confidence and improve quality of life both physically and mentally. I really fell in love with the gym, lifting weights and nutrition.

At a crossroad in 2017, I decided I was going to take my PT (personal trainer) qualification. I wanted to pass on my passion for fitness, especially lifting, to help others not only reach their goals but make sustainable lifestyle changes to habits that would make them improve their quality of life. Remembering all the struggles I went through makes me sympathise with my clients. Becoming a PT was the best decision I made.

Every day I still take one step at a time towards my own goals. Fitness is a way of life. If you give yourself time, consistency and patience, it will give you more than you ever thought. Fitness2Me is my anchor to a future full of possibility.

Mark Jerling

Name: Mark Jerling

My Fitness2Me story:

While I maintained a level of fitness in my younger years, when I turned 50, I decided to change my career from that of working behind a desk to becoming a personal trainer. That was the start of a fantastic change in my life and general health.

I was inspired by my partner, now wife. She had just been through a serious health condition, which caused us to both review our futures. She suggested that I should look to work in an area in which I was passionate and so that set in motion the move to becoming a personal trainer.

Once I had gained employment at David Lloyd, I quickly discovered that I also enjoy taking classes. So I went on a number of courses and became a group class instructor as well. The feeling of helping others with their fitness journey is extremely rewarding both in a one to one basis and in the class environment. The other benefit was that my fitness and health was also improving, making it a “no brainer” to continue on my chosen path.

While I was relatively fit prior to my change in career, my diet was pretty poor. With my improved knowledge of nutrition, I have found that my diet has improved dramatically. This has resulted in an improved ratio of muscle to body fat, helping me to sustain a very active life and one that is far more rewarding than in the past.

Billy Mansell

Name: Billy Mansell

My Fitness2Me story:

My approach to having physical activity in life has led me to many achievements over the past few years. Thanks to my experiences and Coach Core Apprenticeship with Active Essex, my confidence has grown and I have been experienced many different forms of physical activity as a coach for all ages and abilities.

Most recently, I have volunteered as an ICC World Cup Cricketeer where I was a member of the London Flag Team and an ICC Cricket 4 Good Flag Team Captain for multiple games at Lord’s and the England Flag Captain for the final of the ICC Cricket World Cup at Lord's.

My condition has previously not allowed me to do this. My involvement has enabled me to build up strength and confidence to try new things. I have loved it and recognise the physical and mental strength it takes to truly achieve people’s goals. I have stayed true to mine, always open to new opportunities and ways I can develop myself.

I could not be more thankful, proud and honoured for these experiences. Fitness2Me truly means having a strong focus and passion for inclusivity with an ability to take on new challenges and to have a better quality of life for myself and to inspire others.

I have seen many overcome personal challenges including myself. That's where the magic is!

Ruben and Elena Evans-Giullen

Name: Ruben and Elena Evans-Giullen

Our Fitness2Me story:

At the end of 2017, Ruben and Elena began their Ambassadorship for the Warrington and Halton Hospital Charity, specifically raising over £15,000 to build an outside garden for the Children’s Ward. They embarked on a running campaign and target of 100km called Running4 Dr Ozzy. These were running events across the UK and beyond that involved charity runs, trail-adventure running and obstacle courses. It was over 50 running events that were successfully completed over 2018 and it truly has been a momentous programme of activities that was very befitting of the charity project.

What is remarkable about their accomplishment, is Ruben and Elena have ADHD. This means overcoming many of their daily challenges did not distract them because of their courage and determination. A significant benefit of their running challenge was to broadcast the positive aspects of ADHD to help mitigate the negative stigma of unruly behaviour.

We believe Ruben and Elena’s efforts have positively championed the enormous potential of children with ADHD, that when channelling their boundless energy, great things can be achieved. Ruben and Elena’s running activities are now used by the local NHS Community Engagement Officer to promote in schools within the region, encouraging all children taking part in physical exercise and healthy lifestyle initiatives.

The completion of this momentous challenge has brought lasting memories for many people who have been genuinely inspired, emotionally moved or totally captivated by their infectious energy and warm spirit along such a wonderful and emotional journey. It has touched the hearts of many and created countless wonderful experiences that were shared by the NHS staff within the children’s ward, the local community, followers on social media, and people who ran alongside them. Each race they gave 100% effort in all weathers with smiles on their faces. In their eyes it was about trying their utmost to help poorly children, which well-defined the campaign all about ‘kids helping kids’.

Andy Raju

Name: Andy Raju

My Fitness2Me story:

It was actually being accepted via ballot entry for the 2014 London Marathon that got me into running. What I learnt over time is that no runner started off by being a runner, it takes time and dedication. As a runner you have to expect both good days as well as off days as it takes time, but like with any physical activity, you must never give up! I had to be patient, and explore and try different running routes until I found a few that I enjoyed.

You will have some aches and pains but you must always respect the distance whether it is 5k or more. I therefore realised that all of these reasons are all of what can be applied for not only in running, or in any other activity or sport, but in life. Another lesson learnt is that running can be a great stress reliever, and helps to keep your mind at rest, as well as keeping your body in shape. After the marathon, I really got the bug, and felt encouraged to sign up for more races of varying distance such as 5k, 10k, and half marathons in order to build up my experience as well as my confidence in running, and setting goals. This included beating my best times and in general aiming to better myself.

My motto is ‘make running and walking a lifestyle’ it is not just a motto, I really do try and live by that. The way I see it, is that physical activity is a necessity in life, and being active is also about being healthy and feeling better. I have always tried to make physical activity a fun habit instead of a chore, which is what I tell others too who walk and run with me. I feel by doing this, I will continue enjoying this healthy habit and maintain and build upon.

In terms of physical activity, since running became a big part of my life, friends and neighbours kept asking me to help them get started. I completed a Leadership in Running Fitness Course (LiRF) back in May 2017, and became a UKA Run Leader. I have since started and have continued my local running group ‘Run with Andy®` where running and walking sessions take place twice a week from One Tree Hill Recreational Ground, Alperton, Wembley.

My aim is not only to get people out and active, but to also help make physical activity enjoyable and rewarding. I also include provide various walking routes and on my running sessions, combine the use of the outdoor gym located at various parks in Brent to keep it interesting.

Since I first started my group we have gained recognition from Brent Council, Won our 1st award last year as RunTogether Group of The Year, London Region which is governed by England Athletics, and we are shortlisted this year for both RunTogether Group of The Year as well as RunTogether Leader of the Year! The journey grows from strength to strength!

I feel a sense of responsibility in my neighbourhood to help people reach their fitness goals whatever they may be, and to give encouragement and to maintain, in a fun and meaningful way.

Leah Jackson

Name: Leah Jackson

My Fitness2Me story:

(Nominated by Inspired Villages)
Leah has this year spearheaded our work on developing the Wellness Navigator role and our concept around Holistic Wellbeing at Inspired Villages. She has been instrumental in our project to develop a wellbeing offering that focuses on physical, mental and social wellbeing by working with our key partners.

As well as the Wellness Navigator role, Leah primarily works directly with the residents and team members at Millbrook Retirement Village with the aim of getting them active and engaged in a host of activities. Leah has organised a series of events, activities, seminars and been instrumental in running pilots with both groups and individuals focused on active ageing and ageing well.

In pursuit of this goal Leah has introduced from scratch a full calendar of activities and events, including, gym inductions, exercise programmes, health assessments, classes, organised walks and
resident calls and visits. Leah has also introduced a series of informative talks covering: nutrition, exercise, sleep, arthritis, osteoporosis, mental health and better sleep.

All of this has led to great success, with an increase in levels of resident satisfaction and being more active with a decrease in levels of loneliness which has led to a rise in satisfaction and wellbeing levels.

Some of Leah’s achievements include supporting a resident who went in the pool for the first time in 30 years, the weekly weigh-in group losing approximately 50lbs since the beginning of the year, a resident couple ballroom dancing for the first time in 10 years and now going weekly, and the Fitbit Team walking 15,148,966 steps.

Harrison Wright

Name: Harrison Wright

My Fitness2Me story:

Fitness To Me is everything really. I would say it is my one true passion, this is because everything fitness can offer you with health and social skills, and the fact it brings everyone together of all ages and races.

The reason I like fitness so much because getting fit is so important. It increases my self esteem and puts me in a better mood, the reason I wanted to get fitter was to get into a football team to be be fit enough to compete and be part of the team.

About 4 years ago when I was in my last year of primary school I was weighed by school nurses. A couple of weeks later we received a letter saying I was overweight but the letter was very robotic and not sympathetic to my situation. There was no help after I was told. So my mum contacted her friend who owned a gym and I started to have one on one sessions.

Me and my mom learnt about healthy eating and changed the way we ate. We documented all of this on social media channels. Lots of other kids and parents got in touch to say they need help too and wondered what they should do. We created a website which was a good place to start helping people; on the website we told people about our journey so far, what we did, along with ideas of how they too can change their lifestyle.

This was one of the main triggers to helping me get fitter so I found it easier to do every day exercise like playing on the playground and working towards getting into the football team.

About 6 months of starting my fitness journey I got into the football team, it was so much fun and I loved every second of it, even when we lost. I really enjoyed it. Last year my football team folded. I continued to try and keep fit but there wasn’t the motivation like there was when I was working with the team. Thankfully in the last couple of months the manager of my old team started a new team, which was created to help prevent the recent epidemic of knife crime, by getting children off the streets and into football as a form of fitness (and something else to do). The older players (myself included) will be working with younger kids to help develop their skills and form more teams. The team are called Jubilee Jaguars and we have partnered with an organisation called the Four Horsemen; an organisation helping to try prevent knife crime.

In conclusion what fitness means to me is the ability to complete everyday tasks easier and to have a healthy body and mind.

Fitness helps people of all races, genders and ages to come together, it helps kids to get off the streets.

Fitness means everything to me.

David Reilly

Name: David Reilly

My Fitness2Me story:

I was born with Cerebral Palsy but never let my disability prevent me from participating in outdoor pursuits. Now through writing and making films on the internet I share my experience and thoughts hoping to motivate and inspire others. My passion for the outdoors began at a young age where I started canoeing, camping, and hillwalking with the local scouts and with my family. Whilst at university I climbed over 30 Munros, paddled race canoes and was a junior leader at Scout camp.

I was labelled as a slow learner at school and was, at one time, put into a class for children with learning disability. I left school at 16 with nothing but, after receiving the right remedial teaching, I got enough A-levels to earn a place at university. I attained a BSc honours degree in Biotechnology at the University of Abertay then, in 1996, graduated from the University of Manchester Department of Medicine with an MSc in Cell & Molecular Biology. .

After being unable to secure employment opportunities I have experienced mental health issues at times. After a period of acute mental health difficulties in 2014 I decided to try and find what it was could make me happy again. That turned out to be outdoor sport.

At that moment my life turned around and I've never looked back. It was as if I had found my purpose again.

I started training, changed my diet and began writing and blogging about my experience. I began to get little bits of support from various companies and opportunities started cropping up from various places. Since that time I have cycled all over Scotland, skied many times in Europe and spent lots of time camping and cycling in the outdoors. Through sponsorship I have a gym membership where I train several times a week. Going to the gym keeps my mind and body healthy which allows me to do outdoor sports.

I feel fantastic and want to spread the word that sport, exercise, and healthy living can improve your life so much. I continues to share my experience by making films for internet and using social media to promote my website.

I hope to go on and help many others discover what makes them happy and able to lead healthy fulfilled lives. I hope to share my story and experiences further through writing and motivational speaking.

SEE OUR 2018
HEROES
BELOW...

In the run-up to the event on Wednesday 25 September, people from all corners of the UK are being invited to
share their stories of what fitness means to them,
using the hashtag #Fitness2Me.
For a chance to be a hero, simply email
nationalfitnessday@ukactive.org.uk with the story
(yours or others) and SEND!
It’s that easy!

WHO CAN
BE A HERO?

ukactive will select the most inspiring #Fitness2Me stories to promote and share to a UK-wide audience,
with the aim of encouraging the rest of the nation to follow in their steps to a healthier lifestyle.
We want to hear all of your stories! Everyone has one; from those who champion healthy lifestyles in
their towns and communities, to those who have overcome the odds through physical activity, beaten
depression or inspired young people to get active, the search aims to celebrate the role of fitness in
every walk of life.

WHY BECOME
A HERO?

It’s a wonderful opportunity to share someone you know
or your own story to the wider world. You will become
a 2019 #Fitness2Me hero, putting you at the forefront of
the National Fitness Day campaign, whereby ukactive will engage
and support your physical activity activations
on social and where possible.
Following 2019, you will become a #Fitness2Me hero
ambassador – forever holding a place at the heart of the National Fitness Day community (you will also get
some unique #Fitness2Me goodies…)

Gaynor Hulland

Name: Gaynor Hulland
Location: Wales

My Fitness2Me story:

Nicknamed ‘Super G’, I’m a freelance fitness instructor at the LC2 in Swansea. I served as an Olympic torch-bearer in 2012 after being nominated by the local community.

My fitness journey began in 1995 when I saw a photo of myself on a family holiday. I was big, bigger than I had ever been. So there and then I made a decision to do something about it. I was going to be 40 in January 1997 and decided to set myself the goal to get fully fit by the time I turned 40.

In April 1997 I joined a small gym, where I had a lovely trainer who helped me with planning workouts. I used the treadmill a lot and I discovered I loved running. By running 1.8 miles around a lake close to home I improved enough to take on full-length marathons.

In 2009 my rotator cuff got damaged so running became painful. I needed to keep training as it was in my blood. That’s when I joined LC2 Swansea – another turning point in my life. I attended the fitness classes and loved them so much so that at the age of 53 I decided to become a fitness instructor.

I qualified in May 2010 and in the same year I qualified as a Les Mills Instructor in Body Attack, and as a Keiser Spin Instructor.

I love getting into the studio and getting my participants to have the best time – to get fit and have fun. I love teaching, I love my participants, and as an instructor, watching them develop week on week is truly amazing.

Lynsey McKay

Name: Lynsey McKay
Location: South East

My Fitness2Me story:

I’m Lynsey, I’m from Canterbury and fitness is my life! National Fitness Day is a time to celebrate what fitness means to everyone across the country. Fitness has changed my life over the past 10 years. As a 24-year-old I started playing roller derby in Leeds, a sport I fell in love with pretty quickly. When I moved back to Canterbury the only way for me to continue playing was to start the first team in Kent.

Eight years later, we’ve brought hundreds of women into the world of sport, and I was thrown in the deep end, learning how to coach with Kent Roller Girls, becoming the head coach of Kent Men’s Roller Derby last year.

During this time I also started Crossfit and found another fitness love in lifting weights. Seeing how fitness and sport can transform people’s lives led to me wanting to be a personal trainer, something I finally achieved this year! So, yeah, fitness has kind of taken over my life this last decade! Let’s see where it can lead in the next 10…

Naomi Adie

Name: Naomi Adie
Location: East of England

My Fitness2Me story:

Physical activity saved my life. After being medically discharged from the RAF due to an injury, I found out that I had other complications. This, and the resulting mental health issues, changed my life in a heartbeat. I could not do any form of sport and found it difficult to exercise, spiralling in to a really dark place, coming to terms with my disability and mental health problems.

I had always been active, playing both hockey and athletics to a high level all of my life. In 2015 Invictus announced they were hosting the next games in Canada and were looking at including ‘Para Ice Hockey’. I did not know what it was but needed to find out. I contacted Peterborough Phantoms Para Ice Hockey Club to see if I could have a go and I have not looked back since.

Para Ice Hockey in the UK is open to both able bodied and disabled individuals and it doesn’t matter what your disability is we are all ‘one team, no labels’. It gives me the freedom I need, it’s fast and exciting. I have now represented Great Britain at international women’s competitions.

Para Ice Hockey opened my eyes to all the other sports you can do with a disability and taught me nothing is impossible. So, in 2017 I decided that I would try to be selected for the 2018 Invictus games in Sydney. I was incredibly lucky to have been selected as one of the 72-strong UK teams taking part in wheelchair racing and now I have two sports to push my limits.

Do not put barriers in front of yourself or let anyone put them there for you. If you set your mind to a goal, push as hard as you can to achieve it and then push to go even further for the next one. Nothing is impossible, only your ability to want to achieve it.

Tony Apicella

Name: Tony Apicella
Location: North East

My Fitness2Me story:

‘He’s lived in the North East for more than a decade and he’s a fitness professional’ – that’s how someone introduced me recently. To be honest, I’ve never looked at it like that, but when I look back at my career and think about those I’ve got moving, helped move more or empowered individuals to move others, then I suppose the labels fits!

Motivating people, individuals to be active is what motivates me personally and professionally. I’ve been on a mission to get people active, moving and energised since I was able to – ‘sitting’ just isn’t in my vocabulary.

From playing in the street and the park as a kid with my friends till it was too dark to see, to being a PE teacher, through to running in the London Marathon and spending 30 years in the not-for-profit sector developing innovative ways to get young people moving and then moving more – the penny’s suddenly dropped; maybe I am fitness professional!

So, I’m hugely proud, as Head of The Children’s Foundation, a North East charity supporting children and young people’s health, to be selected as the #Fitness2Me hero for the region!
Above all, do something to get the heart pumping on National Fitness Day. Get up, get active and be a hero as well!

Jane Rogers

Name: Jane Rogers
Location: South West

My Fitness2Me story:

I hated PE at school. I’d hide in the toilets until the lesson finished! I grew up to see sports as “something other people do”.

Fast-forward to my late -20s, when I became pregnant with my eldest son, and I developed a severe form of SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction). I became housebound for the last 20 weeks of both of my pregnancies, and was diagnosed with post-natal depression after I’d had my second.

After nine months of intensive physio, I found some jogging bottoms and an old t-shirt, and went out for a run. I discovered that running gave me headspace and made me feel free – when I laced up my trainers, all the insecurities and doubts I had about myself would disappear and I found mental strength as I developed my physical strength.

I began to run faster and for longer, and 5ks led to 10ks, to half marathons, a marathon and a triathlon. I learned about the power of self-belief, and how being active can increase your quality of life.

And through my work in the city, I realised how difficult it is for families who live in tower-blocks across Bristol to break through the financial, cultural and educational barriers which prevent them from living healthy lives – and the direct impact this has on their life chances and life expectancy.

I trained as a personal trainer with the University of Bath and I founded JumpStart Food and Fitness a year ago to work with young offenders and families who live in tower blocks across Bristol, helping them to live healthier, happier lives, and to take others on the same journey I've taken.

Sian Bain

Name: Sian Bain
Location: West Midlands

My Fitness2Me story:

At the age of 59 I was offered redundancy from my job at the Department of Education and I had to decide whether to continue working. My husband had retired, so I thought it was time I did so too. After six months at home I realised that I didn’t like retirement since I was so used to working. I had suffered cancer in the past and when in hospital for a follow up appointment, I saw a ‘Move It or Lose It’ poster, looking for new exercise instructors. Before I knew I it, I had passed the in-depth course to became an instructor for chair-based exercises for those over 65.

I started doing chair-based exercise classes straight away, delivering three classes a week in the local GP surgery. Since then, I have increased my class-load to nine a week, in a range of different classes to get the elderly moving, including resistance training which is vital in developing strength.

I’ve also been running 12-week sessions for those with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) for the past year – and the results have been nothing short of amazing. We’ve seen patients double their fitness levels in just a few months and you can see the effect it has on their lives. People from my class have told me how they’d suffer from awful aches before, which have now disappeared.

It’s not just fitness – I incorporate games within my classes, and it’s been fantastic from a social side too. It gives older people a chance to make new friends, get out and be active, which is so important in helping them to avoid feeling isolated. It’s a great feeling to see everyone happy and smiling.

I deliver the classes in GP surgeries, in nursing homes and out in the community. One of the highlights is being able to work with my 95-year old father, who loves getting stuck into the class. It’s fantastic being a personal trainer – I really love my job. I wake up every day excited to go to work, knowing the impact I have on people’s health and wellbeing. Fitness means everything to me.

Ben Wimbush

Name: Ben Wimbush
Location: North West

My Fitness2Me story:

One moment changed my life. At the age of 34 a trampolining accident left me paralysed. I was always very active before the accident, and even as I dealt with the aftermath of the accident, my love of sport and fitness never went away.

I knew I needed to stay fit, as the repercussions of ill health for people with spinal cord injuries can be dire. It was this, along with a friend’s suggestion to join social media, that would eventually go on to change everything.

I was never a major fan of Facebook and Twitter, but soon realised it was helping me connect with a world beyond my friends and family, so I started to post about my recovery. I could see the impact of my posts, which led me to begin my own campaign, called #20isplenty.

#20isplenty aims to encourage everyone to spend 20 minutes a day exercising, 20 minutes eating with someone or socialising and 20 minutes relaxing, to improve their health. They then share photos of themselves on social media, using the hashtag, to help inspire even more people to take part.

Thankfully, the campaign took off – gaining a large following in the UK and inspiring thousands to get active. I want to continue to spread the campaign’s message far and wide to ensure as many people as possible can improve their physical and mental health.

Cassie Paxton

Name: Cassie Paxton
Location: East Midlands

My Fitness2Me story:

A few years ago I sustained spinal damage due to an accident at work and like anyone with long term pain, suffered. I chose not to 'fall' into the darkness that pain can bring and was determined to recover and prepare for surgery and be the strongest, healthiest and happiest version of me.

In December 2013 I had 360' spinal fusion in my lumber spine, my surgeon removed two discs and I was metalled up with two cages and four rods to lock me up tight! I used Pilates, swimming and yoga daily to get me into the zone (I used to run daily but had to stop due to the injury).

I have faced challenges and big hurdles, but when I have fallen I have slapped on some bright red lippy, got in my trainers and cracked on with a big smile on my face. Physical activity means everything to me – from sharing experiences with old friends to making new friends, discovering new places to getting stronger.

In fact, it means so much that I left my retail career of 17 years to travel to Florida to complete 200 hours of Yoga Alliance Training. I now run SUP Fitness UK, which takes people of all abilities from the yoga mat onto the SUP board – learning new yoga techniques and poses out on the open water. #Fitness2Me means making everyday adventures in the great outdoors of our local community. Sharing experiences together, with a community centred around physical activity, is so exciting and fun. I couldn’t imagine life without it.

Jay Gardner

Name: Jay Gardner
Location: Scotland

My Fitness2Me story:

I’m Jay Gardner and fitness means everything to me. I had gained a lot of weight from November 2016 to June 2017 as a result of no daily exercise as well as working as a waiter at Toby Carvery, where the temptation of free meals on shift was too much to resist. With hardly any exercise, I gained weight.

I knew I needed to make a change. I love dancing, so decided to take up some of the dance-based classes at Edinburgh Leisure such as BodyJam and Sh’Bam. After that, I was hooked and now I do a range of conditioning and flexibility classes such as Body Balance, Barre and Pilates. The exercise, alongside a change in my diet, led me to lose just over four stone in the past year.

Exercising has made feel more comfortable and confident in my own skin again, I can stop avoid looking at myself in the mirror. Now that I’ve lost the weight I put on, I want to focus on gaining more muscle and getting more flexible.

I was born with Severe Haemophilia A this is a internal blood clotting disorder meaning my blood lacks a clotting factor 8 therefore, it doesn’t clot properly without medication. Because of having targeted bleed into my ankle joint as a child I now have what knows as a Haemoarthrapathy in my right ankle (a type of Arthritis) and I found physical activity has made it much easier to manage my condition, and I’ve gained a lot of strength and flexibility in the joint which I had previously lost due to the Arthorapy.

I love the warm welcome I always get at the gym. The gyms I go to are really inclusive and welcoming – and the passion of instructors at Edinburgh Leisure has made it so much easier to keep active. I’d particularly like to thank for Mo Nicholson – her passion really inspired me and I love being part of the BodyJam family, ‘The Jamily’.

Colm Curran

Name: Colm Curran
Location: Northern Ireland

My Fitness2Me story:

I began my fitness journey at Andersontown Leisure Centre, working there for 12 years before moving to Whiterock in 2017. Shortly before transferring to Whiterock Iwas diagnosed with chronic illness which resulted in having to undergo surgery and aggressive treatment. Physical activity was vital focus to my physical and mental wellbeing whilst recovering – it also made me much more aware of the need to make activity accessible for everyone.

I’ve always been developing new things to try with our members. With growing numbers in members with disabilities and junior usage, I improved the layout of the gym to fully accommodate everyone in the community.

I love working with everyone, hence why I completed qualifications to deliver the junior gym and healthwise programmes. This helped me develop new walking group specialist training courses and adding new classes like total body conditioning, yoga and meditation. I am so passionate about fitness and disabilities; I run a fitness class for wheelchair users, and help Glenveagh Special Needs Group enjoy a weekly fitness class.

I like to help people to feel better, both physically and mentally. Through my job, there is a great opportunity to see people’s health and wellbeing improve through both physical activity and a positive attitude.

Shane Wright

Name: Shane Wright
Location: Yorkshire

My Fitness2Me story:

I run Premier franchises in York, Harrogate and Bradford, delivering high quality sport, performing arts and wellbeing programmes to primary school children and their families.
The reason I was attracted to Premier was the tagline of "Inspiring young people to live active and healthy lifestyles".

My parents live next door to a fairly decent sized public park – it has a small football pitch, the usual climbing frame, swing set, roundabout and so on. When I was a child that park used to be full after school without fail – 15-a-side football matches, kids socialising without smartphones, climbing trees, building a den, playing the many variations of ‘tag’. Physical activity in its loosest form. I often drive past that park on my way home and I estimate that 90 per cent of the time there isn’t a child in sight.

My brother is nine years younger than me, but instead of playing with his friends in the park he has grown up socialising through Facebook messenger or in an online lobby on his games console. There isn’t anything wrong with this particularly, but I think this does typify why there is a real need for physical activity offerings. As well as the obvious health benefits, the social skills that playing sports gives you – confidence, team work, leadership, communication, conflict resolution, are all invaluable life skills that a large amount of the future generation are missing out on.

This is why I love providing a service to children and parents that will allow them to develop these skills. Our challenge is to make sure that our programmes are seen as a more enjoyable alternative to playing the latest FIFA or Fortnite game.

I often speak to parents about this example because it resonates with the childhood they had. We are definitely making a difference though; something I’m immensely proud of. This summer we have engaged close to 1,500 children in our holiday club provision. From a personal side, it’s fantastic to see children having fun and being active – it’s fantastic to do what I do.

Naomi Cavaday

Name: Naomi Cavaday
Location: London

My Fitness2Me story:

I am a former professional tennis player and Great Britain number three, and a current tennis commentator and British Tennis Mental Health Ambassador. I have enjoyed many achievements in tennis but the biggest benefit I have gained is the development of my character. I learned resilience, focus, confidence and responsibility which has equipped and prepared me to deal with whatever life throws at me.

The pressure out on court can be immense, thousands of people are watching you take on a huge challenge with no guarantees you are going to rise to it. The demands from the media are also extreme. They want to know who you are, what you believe in and what you stand for, but you are just a teenager trying to figure things out.

During my time as a professional tennis player I developed depression and an eating disorder which ultimately ended my career early. I struggled to cope with the demands of the lifestyle, which left me isolated, drained and permanently jet-lagged. My coaches demanded me to be my best self, day after day, and I responded by constantly pushing myself further but that just ended up breaking me and I left the sport.

It took some time to recover but now I am absolutely loving my tennis again. I take immense pride in what I achieved as a player and when I am at my club showing what I can do it is satisfying to say the least! I am so pleased that tennis will always be a part of my life and a great source of fun for me. Someone once told me that happiness is a balance of having purpose and pleasure in your life, and now tennis is the perfect balance of that for me.

Sport has always been a lifelong passion of mine and when I’m exercising regularly I feel really good about myself. The knowledge that I am looking after my body and mind helps me take pride in what I do in all aspects of my life, so I become more driven and determined. My friends from my tennis club have become my main social group and we all share a love and passion for the sport. My mental health is always stronger when I’m getting involved in sport and I get the 'itch' if I spend too long away!