Ok, a quick introduction. My name’s Jack Slater. I’m the Sales and Marketing Executive for The Edge fitness and sports centre.
Instead of the usual sales and marketing shenanigans, I’d like to tell you a little bit about my own story, what health and fitness means to me and why I personally believe in what we do.
The importance of health and exercise
I spend a lot of time encouraging people to exercise, it’s my job after all, but I find a lot of people don’t realise just how important a healthy and active lifestyle really is for both physical and mental wellbeing.
Sometimes we can feel bombarded with messages about gyms, diets or questionable new revolutionary workouts that supposedly help you look like a Greek god in the space of a week. But behind all of that, we can lose sight of just why health is so important.
We all like to look our best but what’s more important than anything is feeling our best. Feeling healthy is undoubtedly one of the most important necessities for wellbeing and now more than ever, this should be at the forefront of our daily activities.
I’ve had a rocky relationship with health and fitness to say the least.
Growing up, I was something of a fitness nut, mainly because I was an avid martial arts enthusiast and in my teen years was convinced I’d be the next Bruce Lee. I trained constantly for years, played sports, spent several hours in the gym each week and just loved getting out and being active.
Things carried on this way until my early twenties when I started to struggle with exercise. Initially, dismissing this as the mere consequences of one-too-many pints in my uni years, it soon became clear it was something more serious as my stamina started to plummet.
If you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry, I doubt many people have.
One doctor summed it up by saying I’m “extremely fit, just as long as I’m not exercising.” Great!
Basically, the more I exercise and the harder I push myself, the more my airways constrict.
It seemed I wasn’t destined to be the next Bruce Lee after all. But worse yet, I came to realise just how much I’d taken for granted being able to go out for a nice run, play football with my mates or push myself to reach a new PB at the gym without feeling laboured.
This wasn’t an easy thing to come to terms with as you might imagine. I guess you could say I was well acquainted with fitness motivation slumps long before Covid reared its ugly head.
Starting at The Edge
Starting work at The Edge a few years later however, it seemed I’d found the perfect opportunity to immerse myself in a health and fitness environment and ultimately drive myself to regain some of my old stamina, fitness and strength.
See! There I am on our climbing wall.
I even started to pick up my martial arts training again, occasionally training with several of The Edge’s Personal Trainers.
I’m going to pretend this only took one take.
I also made drastic changes to my diet; something I never used to think about much when I was younger. I still have a massive sweet tooth but moderation really is key as my girlfriend regularly reminds me.
I was taking baby steps, sure, but I was starting to feel better in myself and things certainly were looking promising for the first time in so long.
Then came lockdown…
So as you can expect, Covid-19 was a major spanner in the works.
When it became clear just how serious the situation was and that our facility would have to close, I realised that this could be an obstacle not just for myself but for so many of us who would feel lost without guidance and support in our daily health and fitness.
I was determined to make sure that this wouldn’t be the case and I knew that we had a responsibility to ensure everyone had a means of staying fit and healthy throughout lockdown.
Calling on many of the talented members of staff, personal trainers, instructors and wellbeing officers at The Edge, I set about creating our Your Home, Your Move hub where we could share all the tips and advice at our disposal.
Much of the first lockdown was spent building a collection of on-demand content which people could use at home to help with fitness, health, nutrition and all areas of wellbeing. It was a tremendous effort from our team who managed to turn around a great selection with very short notice.
After this, came the introduction of live, virtual classes to allow our instructors to continue engaging with our community in real-time wherever they may be.
Keeping fit at home
The first lockdown was a strange period for all of us. But using a lot of the advice and instruction from our hub, my girlfriend and I were determined not to let it get the better of us. We managed to find a small patch of grass near to our flat where we regularly exercised together out in the sunshine.
Her being a Physical Activity and Wellbeing Officer for Get Out, Get Active also helped a lot as she knew many great walking routes around the city!
Interestingly, the restrictions of lockdown actually led us to explore a lot of new activities that we hadn’t thought to try before such as Yoga and Pilates.
After a brief teaser of what had seemed to be a return to normality, we were, as you know thrust once again into another lockdown! This time however, with winter rolling in, exercising outside was becoming a less appealing option for many people.
Luckily, off the back of our Your Home, Your Move hub, we were able to offer a new and expanded timetable of live fitness classes that people could enjoy in the comfort and warmth of their own home.
Here, I was filming one of our instructors leading a Body Combat class (just love this picture!)
Offering our classes out freely to everyone may have seemed like a strange move. But we realised that during this period, our obligation to support the people of Leeds was more important than sales or profits. I’m very proud we’ve been able to do this and I personally have found virtual classes to be a priceless resource.
If you want to try out any of our online classes, you can join or check out our timetable here. (Come on, I had to throw a little marketing in!)
We also have several upcoming outdoor classes.
The road back
It’s certainly been something of a roller-coaster for me. My health problems haven’t gone away and perhaps never will but I’m pleased that like many others, I’ve managed to overcome so many obstacles and challenges.
Lockdown has been a difficult period for all of us but now we’re seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and even though running towards it can sometimes feel like running on a treadmill, I know we will all reach it together soon enough. I for one can’t wait to finally get back to The Edge and once again tackle my fitness goals head on!
Reopening info is available here.
In this day and age, many of us are obsessed with the extraordinary and often set unrealistic and impossible standards for ourselves. But I’ve come to realise that fitness isn’t about being better than others but about being the best version of yourself that you can be. If you can do something today that you couldn’t do yesterday, you’re winning.
Many of us have barriers to fitness and sometimes exercise is the last thing we feel like doing, but we never regret it if we push ourselves to do it anyway. The funny thing is, the more you push yourself, the more you find the motivation to push even further in the future.
So whether it’s a high-octane fitness class, some light stretches or a steady run/walk outside, let’s all continue our journey towards a healthier and more active lifestyle. Because to have good physical and mental wellbeing is to feel happy and content. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what we all strive for?
Hope to see you around The Edge!