FIT Jacks programme inspires David to become active again
David Davies joined Swansea City AFC Foundation’s FITjacks programme with the goal of losing a couple of inches around his waist, but it was the connections and relationships he gained during his time on the programme that made the biggest difference to his life.
FITJacks is a free 12-week health and wellbeing programme, combining information about healthier choices with weekly fitness sessions, aiming to help participants live a healthier lifestyle.
Having retired from his job as a driving instructor back in 2000, 73-year-old David had found himself gaining weight and becoming less and less active, despite having previously felt fitter and been engaged in regular physical activity.
However, through the programme David lost 1.8kg, but the benefits for him have gone far beyond weight loss, even though that had been his target when signing up.
“The main benefit for me has been the improvements to my fitness, I was looking to lose maybe an inch around the waist, but I’m finding that I’m a lot more flexible than I was before I started,” said David.
“When I first became aware of the project, my main reason for signing up was for my fitness, I was concerned because I’d been retired for a couple of years and doing very little physical activity.
“When I came for the first session, I could see that there was a lot of information on diet, as well as fitness, and the way that they’ve combined the two was ideal.
“People have noticed that I’m a lot more positive in myself and I feel like I’ve got a lot more energy than I had before I started the sessions.”
In addition to feeling the benefits of taking part in the programme, it has given David the confidence and motivation to also take part in the Foundation’s weekly walking football sessions at Penlan Leisure Centre, after connecting with a regular attendee who had also joined the FITjacks programme.
“After joining the programme, I was introduced to the walking football sessions the Foundation run, so that’s been something else that I’ve been able to do to improve my fitness.
“I’d been interested in doing something physically for a while, and walking football seemed like the obvious fit for me.
“I had tried veterans’ football but it was a bit too quick for me and I couldn’t keep up with the pace, so walking football was ideal.
“Through the FITjacks programme I met Simon, who was already involved with walking football, and he asked me if I’d be interested in coming down and I’ve attended every week since I started.
“On top of the physical aspect of the walking football there has been the social aspect too, through walking football I met Barry, who invited me to soft tennis sessions at Penlan that I’ve been thoroughly enjoying too.
“You get an incentive to keep going and keep moving because of the group aspect of the programme, they keep you motivated.
“If you are feeling a little bit down one day, they are there to pick you up and keep you moving on, so the social aspect has been excellent.”
Robin O’Brien, Swansea City AFC Foundation’s health and wellbeing officer, felt David was a shining example of the benefits of the programme, and praised the hard work and commitment that has helped him to make positive changes to his lifestyle.
“David has been absolutely amazing, I believe he’s got a lot out of the programme that will help him going forward,” said O’Brien.
“He was one of the standout participants on the programme, he had a 100% attendance record, which showed his commitment, and he’s continued to work hard with the Foundation in the walking football sessions.
“At first he was quite reserved but now, if you see him with the group, he’s interacting, he’s making jokes and he’s encouraging others through the physical side of the programme.
“We mentioned from the start that this isn’t necessarily a weight-loss programme, it’s for participants to invest as much into it as they want to get out of it, and seeing David being really positive and getting involved in other sessions is huge.
“It’s all about the buy-in from the participants, we set the scene and give them examples of what potentially could happen, but they put in the hard work, and they’ve been absolutely amazing. Hopefully that will motivate them to continue their journey.”