SFIT – Matt’s Story

Finally Getting Off One’s Arse!

So just to help you all sleep, A brief bit about my last few years and the general impact of health, well-being and the influences of those along the way.

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So, I saw an ad about a year ago for something called SFIT, with Southampton FC’s Foundation charity. As the guys have already covered, a twelve week course of fitness and well-being for the more senior and rotund of us fellows. Leading a healthier lifestyle was always tempting and yet, immensely easy to avoid! At the time I saw the ad my attitude was ‘mañana’, I will do it tomorrow. For about ten years it was pretty much the same. I had played many years in Southampton/Winchester junior football leagues and that took its toll for one reason and another. The final straw was a groin injury that really affected my mobility and therefore, my ability to play well and contribute to the team. I had some token-gesture NHS physio on it but that didn’t seem to help. I can also hold my hands up and say I had talked myself in to believing it wouldn’t. I was writing myself off at the age of about 32-33. Some short-term efforts to play some 5-a-side in that ten year spell was a pitiful return for more-or-less the same amount of effort. Also, losing my Father in 2014 was a bitter blow that shattered my motivation more than I expected it ever could.

Something had to give and in all honestly, motivation came from elsewhere and it took me completely by surprise. I am convinced that without it, I’d still be talking a the good talk but doing bugger all about it! Someone very close to me took a massive decision to lose weight and change their lifestyle, it’s no exaggeration to say drastically. The success of this change is nothing short of amazing and I think the weight loss is approaching or even over six stone. This was not just a weight loss programme either. It was a conscious decision to eat, drink, think and act differently. Watching and learning it became a journey of intrigue for me and I could see the benefits almost daily and not just in the weight loss.

In about February/March 2017 I started to join in on long walks along the river, the Itchen navigation. I instantly became a ‘Rambling Wanker’. Ramblers were always a group of people I had just comically labelled, because I just thought walking like this must be weird. I found it very rewarding, it is a lovely walk and right on my doorstep. The views are fab and the positive effects of the exercise are noticeable instantaneously. A couple of months later I was joining some of my colleagues and customers on a charity walk in the Brecon Beacons. I have since been up the navigation a fair few times, as well as many other places in the south. Snowdonia is on my wish list, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Football came next in a double-whammy. I’d been threatening to join some of the lads from work in some 5-a-side. Myself and a couple others took the plunge and we started playing fortnightly. I was very apprehensive due to my lack of exercise or game time for so long. I wasn’t sure how my frame would hold up, my weight or my increasing issues (left foot, right knee and troubled groin). I loved it from the off, even though I had lung-burn after not very long. I battled through it and found my own pace. I was glad to be able to compete and bring back some of my form from years before, albeit rougher around the edges.

Then a neighbouring company who we have been working with on our estate sent a mail around asking for others to make up the numbers for 7-a-side at a nearby school. This was also fortnightly and in the free week. So now I play weekly and it has made a huge difference to my fitness, well-being and I am (I think) improving in all areas. Football I knew I could play; it is the fitness, stamina and sharpness that I am hoping will continue to go from strength to strength.

In early August I saw the ad for SFIT pop up on twitter. I had also recently seen a news clip about the previous group prior to this. I didn’t think twice this year and emailed in straight away. I wasn’t convinced I would get a place. Marion was in touch very quickly though and said she’d contact me nearer the time to confirm details of the course. I was very happy to get a place. I was a tad nervous as to how it would be and who and what sort of people would be on the course. These nerves were quickly alleviated upon arrival and I knew two of my fellow ‘students’, Micky and Andrew. The other guys were all great from the moment we all met. From the off I thought the group was very together and there was no air of nervousness or embarrassment in the room. Our hosts Paul, Marion and the apprentices immediately gave off a real positive energy and made us so welcome. It was made clear that this was not a test but a chance to learn and forge a better, healthier future for each and every one of us. Classroom sessions are informal but clearly defined, well presented and no-one is being judged. Everyone participates and there is a real sense of openness and honesty among us. We also have a good laugh along the way.

I echo what has already been said about the course and positive impact it is clearly having on us. This is an understatement.

Having missed week four through illness, it was great to be back for week five. I was genuinely gutted I had the lurgy last time out and keen to get back in to it. Like Simon also said recently in his blog, I didn’t want to fall behind after missing a week. I asked Paul to briefly summarise the previous week which he did with no problem at all.

This week was started with a discussion about the effects of alcohol on us and what we can do to help ourselves out with it. Whilst Paul was talking about it, someone for another course walked in and realised he was in the wrong room. If he had heard any of the chat in the room before he entered he could be forgiven for thinking it may have been an AA meeting for Ex-Saints….

As a group we went down a list of 7 true or false questions with some surprising results in comparison to most of our perceptions of alcohol. Question 5 I think had us all. Switching drinks between beer, wines and spirits DOESN’T get you p*ss*d more quickly. It is the content of alcohol, not the type of drink that is the factor. Interestingly, in moderation, drinking can provide some benefits of well-being. The drinking of a pint of water after every third pint may take some getting used to. In my circles it will be fun trying to talk the lads in to that one. The pint of water before bedtime I had previously heard was good practise. It is something I normally don’t think about but anything that can avert the dreaded hangover through dehydration gets my vote. If only I could follow it through religiously!

It is also worth saying that the session was not just centred on alcoholic drinks but also drinks such as coffees and Coca Cola. Calories were discussed with various drinks and it is clear that many of the group are already using alternatives (including myself) for sugar. Jon explained about previous daily Starbucks on the way in to work and then another one not long after, brought in by a colleague. Milk and sugar content takes up a lot of the daily allowance and two of those bad boys everyday would pile on the pounds. I have personally taken to replacing tea or coffee sometimes with fruit teas. I feel better drinking these and more hydrated. Neither need milk or sugar and I don’t always feel like a milky drink anyway. There is no good time to remind those who love a drink how bad it is or can be for us. However, Paul hasn’t ruined Christmas for us. I am sure I will stick to the recommended 14-15 units per week (ahem……..!)

Then it was time for the physical down by the pitch side. We started with the normal warm up, stretches etc. Then on to the different stations. I feel the benefits for each almost immediately. The new boxing element was a welcome addition; a very enjoyable experience.

Watch out for Simon’s jab…. just saying 😉

Workouts are getting more demanding and I know I have been having one by the time I’m done. The feeling afterwards is a good one though and I think all the chaps are feeling the same way. Thanks to Paul, Marion and their team for a jolly good show and to all the chaps for supporting each other and commitment to the course. I left very contented this week, feeling I’d made good progress. On to next week Off to look for a Fitbit or similar device.



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