WITH the closure of gyms due to Covid-19, a Fivemiletown personal trainer is using his extra free time to offer simple and effective fitness and lifestyle advice for anyone struggling to cope during lockdown.
Ryan Morrow, who runs Forge Fitness, Fivemiletown, believes that maintaining a positive mental attitude during lockdown is key - and over the last five weeks he has been offering advice on how people can make the most of being at home, from journaling, drinking more water, walking and simply getting more sleep!
Ryan is a keen obstacle course runner, Belfast marathon finisher and half-marathon enthusiast, who uses his own life experience and weight loss journey to inspire others.
The back to basics approach is the essence of his free online resource, the 'Twenty Twenty Won' challenge, which he has been delivering virtually via Facebook.
The ten-week programme has so far proved immensely successful for all involved, and it isn't too late for individuals to join and reap the benefits of simple lifestyle changes.
At a time where many find themselves furloughed or working remotely, including Ryan himself, the Fivemiltown-based trainer's simple challenges are aimed at achieving a better lifestyle from home.
"I am simply trying to help people see the lockdown in a more positive and beneficial way," he said. "A lot of people will be feeling lost through the lockdown. I myself was lost during the first one, and I found myself sleeping a lot and not getting anything done.
"I personally feel that having a routine is important to my mental health, so having his daily prompts gives me a sense of accountability, and unusual but thoughtful challenges have given me a better home life during my furlough.
"The advice I have been giving in the 'Twenty Twenty Won Challenge' is to focus on the small things, the things that you can change and control, that will make a real difference in how you view and adapt to lockdown.
"Really, it's about just building the foundations of health fitness and mindset, and giving that extra push while everyone has extra bit of free time. You may as well be using that time to get your nutrition right, establishing a good sleep schedule, and work toward drinking around 2 litres of water a day, which has immense health benefits.
"I have been a personal trainer for about two years, and I always ask new clients how much water they are drinking - the common answer nowhere near enough! Drinking enough water reallyimproves your day, and now that we are nearly five weeks into the programme, participants are really seeing the difference. I am over the moon with it!
"Another big thing is walking, which has unbelievable health benefits. This week we are hitting 10,000 steps every day of the week. Going for a walk in the morning means you have started your day off right, by hitting a goal and doing something positive!"
As Ryan explains, many of the challenges in 'Twenty Twenty Won' are about maintaining a positive mental attitude, boosted through small 'wins' daily.
"One of the challenges was to find something you have been putting off doing and at point some point in the space of a week, get it done! It doesn't matter how big or small it is, just do it! Simply doing a task you have been putting off does wonders in terms of productivity and outlook.
"In terms of mental health, I feel journaling is very important. It has been something I myself have really benefited from. In the group, we have simple enough ones, such as starting the day by answering a couple of questions about yourself, and at night, and reviewing it find a win for the day.
"There's always something you can class as a win, and finding something that you are really happy with can really make a difference between a good day and a bad day. It's all about changing perspective.
"Before lockdown, a lot of people would have said 'I simply don't have time', but now is the perfect opportunity to get it done. Now is time to focus on you!
"While we are now half way through the 'Twenty Twenty Won' challenge, anyone interested can still come in and reap some of the health benefits. All we have discussed is on the page and can be accessed. Even five weeks of getting a push on your sleep routine will have massive lifestyle and health benefits!"