The EFL Trust’s FIT FANS programme forms part of Public Health England’s recently launched ‘Better Health’ campaign, encouraging the nation to lose weight and improve their overall health, cutting the risk of being critically ill with COVID-19.
FIT FANS, a 12-week programme funded by Sport England through the National Lottery’ currently run by over 30 EFL Clubs, is available for fans across England to get involved and make a change.
Middlesbrough FC fan, Alan, has suffered from M.E for the past 25 years and also struggled with his weight but has turned his life around through joining the Club’s FIT BORO programme.
Last December, the 60 year-old was told by his G.P that unless he lost weight and became more active, he would have to go on AtorvaStatin (medication to prevent cardiovascular disease) as his blood cholesterol readings were so high.
Already consuming a number of different medications, Alan was alarmed at the thought of having to add another drug to his daily intake.
Alan, who has been teetotal for 25 years due to an allergy to alcohol, identified his fondness of chocolate and lack of exercise as his big downfall with regards to his weight control and general wellbeing.
His journey on the programme began after an advertisement in the matchday programme caught his attention. Despite major reservations, being a lifelong Middlesbrough fan, Alan decided to sign up for the programme in an effort to lose weight, become more active and to avoid having to go on any additional medication.
Last season, he began attending the FIT BORO sessions based at the Riverside Stadium in one of the hospitality suites every Monday evening along with a group of approximately 30 like-minded men.
As well as completing tasks in the workbook every week, Alan took part in the exercise sessions and found that he coped well with all of the different types of exercise that were offered.
By his own admission, Alan was amazed with the results he achieved over the course of the 13-week programme. His energy levels increased, he lost over two stone and also managed to conquer his long-standing M.E condition.
Throughout the course, Alan regularly set himself goals to achieve in relation to the food that he was eating, his activity levels and he also kept food diaries to monitor his daily intake.
In addition to this, Alan also states that his blood pressure of 128/86mmHg and pulse rate of 73bpm is the best it has been for a long time. He also realises that although his BMI has come down he still needs to continue with the changes he has made to his lifestyle to bring it down gradually further still.
Speaking of his experiences on the programme, Alan said:
“The FIT FANS programme has been great fun, very enjoyable and extremely worthwhile.
“The group I was with are a great set of lads and it’s really well run by the coaches from MFC Foundation.
“I especially loved the fact that it was based at the football club I have been supporting for over 50 years. I haven’t missed a home match in 924 consecutive games dating back to 1983.
“Even during COVID-19 the coaches have managed to keep us active and busy with online sessions, challenges and encouragement.
“Overall, it has given me a new lease of life and a lot more energy, especially as I am also two stones lighter.”
Alan’s wife Jayne added: “I am not just saying this because I am married to Alan but I think the progress he has made over the past three months is amazing.
“Only last year he felt down and thought that he would never get any level of fitness back and he was starting to feel his age and was suffering from the condition M.E.
“He now feels like he has been transported back to his 20`s and is feeling fitter than he ever was due to the progress he has made on the course.”
Paul South, Health Coordinator at MFC Foundation comments: “It has been great to see the progress that Alan has made throughout the duration of the course.
“Being a big Boro fan has helped him feel comfortable in an environment with other like-minded people.
“From his starting point at the beginning of the course Alan has grown in confidence and shown great motivation to achieve the results that he has including him losing a significant amount of weight (two stones) and also being able to lower the amount of medication he is taking and not need have further medication.”
Over the course of the programme Alan lost a total of 13.5kg (2st 1lb) as part of a group of 29 other participants.
The collective weight loss for the group as a whole was measured at 105.7kg (16st 6lbs). This equates to an average weight loss of 3.6kg (8lbs) for each participant.
On Tuesday June 9th Alan completed his “mission”, a challenge he thought he would never achieve, when he walked the 12.5 miles from his home to the stadium.
For help and support to lose weight, visit nhs.uk/BetterHealth.
To find out more about how to make a long term and sustainable lifestyle change, learn about healthy eating and take part in an exercise programme, find your local FIT FANS session here.
FIT FANS is the operating name in England and Wales for Football Fans in Training, which was created in a Scotland by the University of Glasgow and the Scottish Professional Football League Trust.