I can never remember being still as a child. I must have been a complete nightmare to deal with for my parents! If I wasn’t playing football in the garden, I was hitting a tennis ball against the wall outside the kitchen, or swinging a cricket bat around….yeah, we lost a few windows in those formative years!
And while the windows were being fixed, I would be out with my friends on our bikes having amazing adventures on the old railway line where I grew up.
Then I discovered rugby and American football, and that was it: I was completely hooked. Addicted, even. Every spare moment of every day was then dedicated to training, exercising, and recovering from injuries in preparation for playing more.
When the opportunity arose, I gained my qualifications to be able to work in the fitness industry and started living the dream of any active child: doing what I loved for a living and as a serious hobby.
Then one fateful autumnal day when I was 32 years old, my world came crashing down. I sustained a relatively serious injury to my lumbar spine. I was very fortunate in that I was still able to move and exercise, albeit with considerable pain and discomfort. But it meant that the day all sportspeople fear the most had arrived: the day where I had to retire from competitive sport.
I had a young family to support, so in terms of needing to keep my physical health, it was a decision that was easily made.
Mentally, however, it was a decision that destroyed me.
But then the opportunity came to further develop my skills and education so that I’d be able to help others achieve their dreams and goals – no matter how big or small. It was then that I learnt the true meaning of what exercise and activity could do. My passion for running very fast into very large men was replaced with the sheer joy and sense of achievement felt when seeing a stroke patient take their first steps unaided, or seeing an inactive person achieve their first 5k walk. Nothing can be better than that look of pride, that sense of wonderment at what they had achieved. And that is why sport, exercise, fitness, and activity to me means everything.