#PartofSomething

#PartofSomething

As we return to a more ‘normal’ way of life, with the opportunity to #BePartofSomething and participate in our favourite sports and activities once again, we have been catching up with some of our fantastic members to find out just what makes them feel #PartofSomething with Sport Aberdeen.

We are celebrating the people in our local community who champion sport as a catalyst to positively impact mental and physical health. Sport Aberdeen provides opportunities for people of all ages, abilities and genders to take part in physical activity and we believe that sport is more than just a game, and really can change lives. Meet our ambassadors and read how sport has changed local lives. We would love to hear from you so if you feel inspired to share your story, or would like advice on how to start your sporting journey with us, please email us.

If you want to #BePartofSomething and discover the positive impact of sport and physical activity on your life, find out more about our fantastic value memberships here.

Meet…

Javier

Javier, 36, is a keen tennis player.

Home venue: Aberdeen Tennis Centre

What positive change or impact has sport and physical activity had on your life?  

Sport has had a big impact on my life, from the personal growth, physical and psychological as well as the social aspect, possibly being my favourite hobby. 

“The feeling in your body is great after doing exercise, even better outdoors if the weather is ‘nae too bad’”

Javier

How does sport and physical activity help develop skills which can be transferred to other areas of your life?

Sport helps to develop physical coordination, endurance, effort, social skills when playing team sports, competitiveness, technical and tactical assessment and improvement (if trained). Learning to win as well to lose, getting used to a routine and commitment with something (i.e. going to training sessions and games). It can strengthen the body for other activities.

How can sport and physical activity be used to benefit the wider community?

It could be a stress reliever, social motor and wellbeing activity (apart from the odd injury) – lots of benefits!

How has Covid-19 affected you, your fitness and your mental health?

I consider myself a very optimistic and resilient person and therefore have coped relatively well with Covid-19. Certainly, becoming a father has made more impact on my fitness than the pandemic, no time for it!

How does it feel to be back in the gym/at your favourite activity?

It is very nice to come back and to interact with other people as well as doing some fun activities! The feeling in your body is great after doing exercise, even better outdoors if the weather is ‘nae too bad’!

What is your message to anyone considering taking up a new sport or heading to the gym for the first time?

Go for it and give it more than one opportunity, sometimes it can be frustrating until you get to do it reasonably ok, you also need some continuity to get fit!

How does Sport Aberdeen make you feel ‘part of something’?  

I have been playing the Social Tennis League at Aberdeen Tennis Centre for the last few years and it is great to see how we are improving year by year, as well as managing several promotions! It is great to interact with other clubs and the night out at the end of the session is great.

Meet…

Margret

Margret, 76, is a participant in the Active Lifestyles Steady Steps class.

Home venue: Get active @ Westburn

What positive change or impact has sport and physical activity had on your life? 

It’s been what I can only call a lifesaver. Around five years ago I went through a stage of having tests at the neurology department at the hospital, because for some reason I lost the ability to walk and lost my balance, out of nowhere it just happened, completely out of the blue. There was no diagnosis and no reason behind it, but I had to start afresh. So as far as I was concerned, my life was finished because I couldn’t do what I used to do.

I was asked what I was looking for in terms of referral and I said I was interested in doing exercise classes. I didn’t want to do it on my own, so I asked if they did that sort of thig. A few months down the line they called and said they had this class they thought I might be interested in and it was Steady Steps run by Sport Aberdeen’s Active Lifestyles team.

“Enrolling in this class has been a life saver, quite literally.”

Margret

So, through referral, I started attending Sport Aberdeen’s Steady Steps classes. At this point I was still struggling to walk – if you ask John, the tutor at the time, he said I can’t believe you were on two sticks and could hardly walk when you first came along. Enrolling in this class has been a life saver, quite literally.

I tried so hard, I gave my all to it because I was so determined to get back to normality. I did this once a week at this point and then I graduated to the next level and could go to more than one class; one at Get active @ Sheddocksley and one at Get active @ Westburn.

Although I went to Physiotherapy for help, I didn’t enjoy it. I found it difficult to do the exercises on my own and had no motivation– which is why these classes are so good. People you’ve never met are so supportive of each other, and we are all there for the same reason.

I’m back, and I can now walk, and I can do these classes! So really, it [sport and physical activity] means everything to me.

How does sport and physical activity help develop skills which can be transferred to other areas of your life?

It really can help with many different aspects of your life. It gets you out and about and gets you meeting people from all different walks of life and boots your confidence. You know you can do things and make something of it! I am a different person now to what I was.

How can sport and physical activity be used to benefit the wider community? 

From my point of view everything I did was always activity and sport orientated, I was brought up like that, walking and climbing mountains and that’s what I just like doing throughout my life. Sport does the world of good for people and it would be good if more people got active.

Where have you seen sport and physical activity being used to support people’s mental health?

I think if you pick up anything, any sport or activity it’s doing you good because it gives you that buzz when you’ve finished it, and you’ve achieved something. I think it’s one of the best things you can do for mental health. It got me through the pandemic. My granddaughter gave me a castoff Fitbit which got me through the lockdown. Having that spurred me on and I had a goal, obviously the 10,000 steps a day – not that I that I did that – maybe once every fortnight but it just gave me that goal to get out and that was my aim.

Previously, when I lost my balance and ability to walk it [my mental health] was dreadful. The physical activity and being referred to Sport Aberdeen helped so much. All of the staff are lovely, they’re brilliant and give you so much encouragement. It really makes you give that little more effort in the classwhich really helps to boost mental health.

How has Covid-19 affected you, your fitness and your mental health?

It hasn’t affected my fitness hugely because I’ve been walking a lot. I also did the Get active @ Home workouts. I did two zoom classes a week and they were super, really good. I didn’t think I was going to like it, but it was great, and I looked forward to those days when I would have an hour of doing the activities. My mental health was bad simply because of being isolated and not being allowed to do things or see anybody but the two classes each week helped a bit with that too.

How does it feel to be back in the gym/at your favourite activity?

It feels wonderful, absolutely super. When we got back into the classes after the first lockdown it was just great, seeing people and being back. I will be euphoric when they start all of the classes back up again!

What is your message to anyone considering taking up a new sport or heading to the gym for the first time?

Just come along and see what it’s like, you won’t know until you try it. We all felt great trepidation when we went in the first time and thought ‘what will this be like?’ but the instructors make you feel so comfortable. It’s the first step, it’s giving yourself a challenge and it’s something you’ve achieved – you’re doing it for you. I’m hooked on it! I think it’s a great thing and you take out of it whatever you can do, and the instructors make everybody feel comfortable and ask all the time if we are okay. We also have a laugh and have fun at the same time!

The beauty about Active Lifestyles classes is you only do what you feel able to do. If you’re finding its too much for you just stop, you’re still taking part in something, you’re doing it as best you can which is good.

How does Sport Aberdeen make you feel ‘part of something’?

Sport Aberdeen absolutely makes me feel part of something. I feel like I belong in a way and there’s always something to do.

Meet…

John

John, 29 is keen gym-goer and ice-skater.

Home venue: Get active @ Beach Leisure Centre and Linx Ice Arena

What positive change or impact has sport and physical activity had on your life?

Sport helped me regain a lot of the self-worth that I had lost through years of living a pretty sedentary lifestyle. I’ve always been dangerously skinny and I lost what self-confidence I had left after an illness brought on by me being underweight. It’s amazing how easy it is to delude yourself that everything is fine until you’re lying in hospital.

How does sport and physical activity help develop skills which can be transferred to other areas of your life?

I found that exercise, nutrition and sport are great ways to drill good habits, like discipline, perseverance and willpower.

“Sport is great for building friendships and meeting people with shared interests in your community.”

John

How can sport and physical activity be used to benefit the wider community?

Before the lockdown I did a few charity 10k’s for CLAN Cancer support. Sport is great for building friendships and meeting people with shared interests in your community. I think during lockdown, people have forgotten how to interact with each other and it’s nice to see people reconnect again.

Where have you seen sport and physical activity being used to support people’s mental health?

Being so sedentary over the last year has been debilitating. It was terrible to have my primary outlet for stress relief taken away. I felt like I lost my freedom during the lockdown and that had an awful domino effect. It was an eye-opener to realise how easily your bodily autonomy could be snatched from you. I even built a home gym in my spare room in case we go into another lockdown, so I’ll be better prepared.

How has Covid-19 affected you, your fitness and your mental health?

Being so sedentary over the last year has been debilitating. It was terrible to have my primary outlet for stress relief taken away. I felt like I lost my freedom during the lockdown and that had an awful domino effect. It was an eye-opener to realise how easily your bodily autonomy could be snatched from you. I even built a home gym in my spare room in case we go into another lockdown, so I’ll be better prepared.

How does it feel to be back in the gym/at your favourite activity?

It’s a great start. At first, I saw the lockdown as a good opportunity to catch up on TV and play video- games, but that novelty gets old real fast. I guess you don’t appreciate how much freedom you have until it’s gone. I hope that having the gyms open again has taught people to value having access to sports and exercise facilities.

What is your message to anyone considering taking up a new sport or heading to the gym for the first time?

Everyone started at the gym at one point or another. If you’re a newcomer to the gym or sport, no matter your body type, any sportsman with any integrity will recognise and respect a desire for self- improvement. It’s the reason we’re all here, really.

How does Sport Aberdeen make you feel ‘part of something’?

I have to admit, I’m a pretty antisocial gym-goer, but it’s great playing a team sport and working together to help each other improve.

Meet…

Jay

Jay, 21, is a keen gym user

Home venue: Get active @ Beach Leisure Centre

What positive change or impact has sport and physical activity had on your life?

Physical activity has changed my life. Before 2018, I wouldn’t even look at a gym. I was depressed and turned to food for comfort. I was verging on 16 stone and one night I decided enough was enough so I adjusted my nutrition with the help of MyFitnessPal and signed up to a Sport Aberdeen membership and by the end of the year, I had lost just shy of five stone and still to this day, I attend the gym six days a week and I’m now a qualified gym instructor and also doing online coaching to hopefully help others change their lives for the better.

How does sport and physical activity help develop skills which can be transferred to other areas of your life?

By becoming more confident in the gym and having the increase in self-esteem that comes with that, I would say that all in all, I’m probably a more confident person. I no longer try to hide myself in big hoodies and jumpers and I just feel a lot better within myself. Being a wheelchair user in public can sometimes feel a bit daunting and obviously the fact that I hated my appearance didn’t help but now that I’m in a healthier place I feel a lot happier and my social skills have really improved as I’d say I’ve also made a few good friends from attending the gym.

“Sport Aberdeen makes me feel ‘part of something’ because it gives me that routine, structure and purpose that I thrive off. I feel happy, active and overall a better person. It changed my life and If I hadn’t joined Sport Aberdeen, I don’t know where I’d be!”

Jay

How can sport and physical activity be used to benefit the wider community?

I think in general people nowadays are quite stressed out. I think if everyone just took even just 20 minutes out of their day to exercise, we’d all be better people. There’s a misconception that going to the gym or exercising is all about aesthetics – this couldn’t be further from the truth. Being active is so beneficial for your mood and your wellbeing in general. Regardless of the weather or what’s going on in the world, after going to the gym; I feel a million times better! It’s one of the best feelings in the world, so yes – I reckon as a community or society – we’d all be so much more positive if we just fuelled/stimulated ourselves and got our bodies moving properly.

Where have you seen sport and physical activity being used to support people’s mental health?

Myself, personally – as I said, I’m literally a changed man thanks to physically activity. My mentality is so much healthier; of course, I still have down days, but I feel they are a lot easier to manage now because I just remember where I’ve come from and that I have good people around me, and that’s enough to get me positive again and keep me motivated

How has Covid-19 affected you, your fitness and your mental health?

I’m very much a guy who relies on routine and structure, so when that’s essentially ripped away from you, it is terrible. I was really concerned when things first shut down, because I just expected to become pretty low again, but to be fair, I think because everyone was in the same position, it was a little easier to accept and make the best of a bad situation. I did put on a couple stone but once gyms opened and I got back into my routine, I was fine and everything felt a bit more normal!

How does it feel to be back in the gym?

It feels great to be back. Not even just for the activity, but the social side as well. It’s good to see everyone enjoying themselves and starting to get that sense of normality back.

What is your message to anyone considering taking up a new sport or heading to the gym for the first time?

To anyone considering taking up a new sport or heading to the gym for the first time; I would say just go for it because you will regret it if you don’t. As I said, I feel a million times better, I’ve made friends and 9 times out of 10 – nobody actually cares how you look or how much weight your lifting etc. The staff at Get active @ Beach Leisure Centre are extremely welcoming and supportive. Overall; it is a very enjoyable experience and you’ll thank yourself afterwards.

How does Sport Aberdeen make you feel ‘part of something’?

Sport Aberdeen makes me feel ‘part of something’ because it gives me that routine, structure and purpose that I thrive off. I feel happy, active and overall a better person. It changed my life and If I hadn’t joined Sport Aberdeen, I don’t know where I’d be!

Meet…

Emily

Emily, 20, is a skier

Home venue: Adventure Aberdeen Snowsports Centre

Emily is an athlete on Sport Aberdeen’s additional support needs pathway programme at Adventure Aberdeen Snowsports where Special Olympics Grampian Area (SOGA) athletes train on a Wednesday.

When Emily was younger, doctors told her parents that she would never be able to ride a bike because of her disabilities.

They said she would never have the balance or coordination for sports that required them.

But she was determined. She did learn to ride a bike. Then she learned to ride a horse. Then she learned to ski and in February 2020 she travelled to the Swiss Alps to represent Special Olympics Grampian at the National Alpine Skiing Competition in Switzerland.

If you would like to find out more information on ASN skiing opportunities with Sport Aberdeen, please email Bob Thow on bob.thow@sogrampianarea.com

What positive change or impact has sport and physical activity had on your life? 

I met people that I would have never met before if I wasn’t skiing here at the centre. There is a team here and I feel much more confident since being part of this.

How does sport and physical activity help develop skills which can be transferred to other areas of your life?

I think skiing really helps with the other sport I love, horse riding, it really helps with my balance. It helps with my strength too which lets me do much more, especially out in the fresh air and it could help so many other people of all ages.

How can sport and physical activity be used to benefit the wider community? 

I think it can help people a lot with mental health and physical health and it will bring people together in something new and you can meet so many people. You don’t have to be good to enjoy it, you can be bad and enjoy it, but you have to start somewhere!

“Sport Aberdeen makes you feel like you’re part of a family. All of us and the volunteers and coaches, we are all the same and there is no favouritism, we are all here to have fun and meet people and get better at something we enjoy.”

Emily

Where have you seen sport and physical activity being used to support people’s mental health?

Taking part in skiing and sport has really helped my own mental health. You’re getting out in the fresh air more and getting to meet lots more people too. Getting stronger helps with your mental health too so it really helps all round.

How has Covid-19 affected you, your fitness and your mental health?

I didn’t find it too hard, and it was for a good reason we were all being safe, so I didn’t mind too much. I’m really glad to be back skiing though and to see people again and be on the slope. It feels great!

How does it feel to be back at Adventure Aberdeen Snowsports Centre?

On the first day back, it was a bit nerve-racking because I hadn’t done it for so long, I though ‘will I fall over or won’t I’ but I told myself that’s it’s fine and all the team eased us back into it and we took it easy to start with. I was exited to be back skiing and it was great to see everyone again.

What is your message to anyone considering taking up a new sport or heading to the gym for the first time?

Just do it! Don’t second guess it, just do it! If you second guess it, you’ll just get nervous and won’t do it, so just do it! Don’t worry about falling over because it has to happen sooner or later, and everybody does it!

How does Sport Aberdeen make you feel ‘part of something’?

It just makes you feel like you’re part of a family. All of us and the volunteers and coaches, we are all the same and there is no favouritism, we are all here to have fun and meet people and get better at something we enjoy.

Meet…

Lisa

Lisa, 39, is a fitness instructor.

Home venue: Get active @ Jesmond

What positive change or impact has sport and physical activity had on your life? 

I have always had a keen interest in exercise, however, the big turning point for me was the discovery of Les Mills Group Exercise Classes! From the moment I tried my first BodyCombat class back in 2005 I was ‘hooked’. I loved the experience of being part of a group all in the studio for that one class. After having my children, I decided to take the leap from participant to instructor and have never looked back. Group exercise means so much to me and has had such a positive effect on my life!

How does sport and physical activity help develop skills which can be transferred to other areas of your life?

Being an instructor requires skills that can be used, and that are transferable to all aspects of life. I am approachable and understanding of different ways of life and circumstances. I can connect with a wide array of people. I am so privileged to have met so many people – some of which have become dear friends. 

How can sport and physical activity be used to benefit the wider community? 

I truly believe that everyone can benefit from some form of exercise or sport. Not only are there the physical benefits, but the mental health benefits are huge. Exercise is one of the most underutilised natural highs. 

Where have you seen sport and physical activity being used to support people’s mental health?

As an instructor I am often told of stories or a situation where by exercise has been a ‘saviour’ to people’s mental health. I am in full agreement of this. I know that I’m always one workout away from a being in a great mood. 

“Once we are in that studio – moving together – nothing else matters in that moment! Group exercise will always provide me with that feeling of being part of something special.” 

Lisa

How has Covid-19 affected you, your fitness and your mental health?

Covid-19 ‘stole’ group exercise from me in both lockdowns. I felt like part of my identity was gone. I was kept busy dealing with my kids and helping them with their home schooling, but I knew there was a massive piece missing from my life. I helped fill that void to a degree by exercising most days – I needed it for my mental state more than anything else but for me nothing comes close to being in a studio with my participants. 

How does it feel to be back?

I was literally counting the days until group exercise returned! My first class back in the studio was emotional in so many ways. I was delighted to be back and upset for all the good times we lost. I am determined to make my classes an amazing experience for all who attend. 

What is your message to anyone considering taking up a new sport or heading to the gym for the first time?

Do it!!!!

I know it can be easier said than done but you’ll never know unless you try. You may not find your ‘love’ on your first few trips to the gym, class or activity but stick with it and you will know what’s right for you! I am more than happy for anyone to message me to have a chat if they want to feel they have a point of contact, someone to ask questions and help alleviate any concerns. 

How does Sport Aberdeen make you feel ‘part of something’?

Sport Aberdeen has given me the privilege to teach many classes to their members. Once we are in that studio – moving together – nothing else matters in that moment! Group exercise will always provide me with that feeling of being part of something special. 

Meet…

Ayah

Ayah, 18, is a keen figure skater and gym user.

Home venue & sport: Linx Ice Arena – Figure Skating

What positive change or impact has sport and physical activity had on your life? 

Ever since I started figure skating it has given me new goals and a passion. I loved it from a very young age. I feel ice skating allows me to work hard and the outcome always makes me feel amazing. I always have something to look forward to and improve on which really gives you a new perspective. Whenever I step on the ice, I forget all the bad and just…skate!

How does sport and physical activity help develop skills which can be transferred to other areas of your life?

Not only has figure skating given me a fit and healthy body to do my daily jobs but it has given me determination to keep going despite falling over. It is important to persevere through life and I truly feel it has given me this drive.

“Aberdeen is a small city and getting to know everyone in the city I was born in through sport and physical activity with Sport Aberdeen is the best way I can think of to be #PartofSomething.”

Ayah

How can sport and physical activity be used to benefit the wider community? 

The biggest factor in maintaining a healthy lifestyle is through exercise. Not only to burn off calories but for a healthy mind too. Research shows exercise improves mood dramatically and I believe mental health is just as important as physical health. To have a healthy body you also need to have a healthy mind. People with stressful jobs such as doctors or teachers or students or simply new parents need to ensure that they are looking after themselves as well as others around them. To take just one moment to exercise is so important to just maintain and live the healthiest possible way.

Where have you seen sport and physical activity being used to support mental health?

Personally, while studying at university and alongside other troubles in my life. I always resort back to physical exercise instead of binge eating or watching Netflix. It allows me to forget and focus on myself in a healthy way. I truly saw the role figure skating played during the lockdown as the rink was closed. I missed the ice and my friends at the rink that I used to always see.

How has Covid-19 affected you, your fitness and your mental health?

During COVID I struggled to keep healthy and exercise daily. I felt very lazy as I was not getting out and I was studying from home. I was mentally exhausted, and I lacked motivation. Alongside all that family was struggling with a lot of bereavement due to the lives lost to the pandemic. COVID has affected my career opportunities and the way I used to live before. I am now trying to get back to the life I had before where studying, sports and my job is balanced equally.

How does it feel to be back in the gym/at your favourite activity?

I feel fantastic to be back on the ice and to get back to a bit of normality!

What is your message to anyone considering taking up a new sport or heading to the gym for the first time?

My message to anyone considering taking up a new sport is ‘go for it’! It doesn’t matter if you’re old or young, it’s never a wrong time to start something you may grow to love! Remember to take it easy in the first few sessions 🙂

How does Sport Aberdeen make you feel ‘part of something’?

Since I was able to walk my parents have encouraged me to be part of the Aberdeen community, taking part in swimming, figure skating, gymnastics, even tennis! I explored and found out what I love best and made friends around me who relate and have the same interests as me. Aberdeen is a small city and getting to know everyone in the city I was born in through sport and physical activity with Sport Aberdeen is the best way I can think of to be #PartofSomething.

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