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EFL Trust

How the FIT FANS programme is changing lives for the better

On World Diabetes Day, learn how EFL Clubs and their Community Organisations are helping supporters

14 November 2020

Nearly two thirds (63%) of adults in the UK are overweight or living with obesity, and this extra weight can cause pressure to build up around vital organs, making it harder for the body to fight against diseases like cancer and heart disease. By reducing your weight within a healthy range, you can also cut your risk of being critically ill with COVID-19.

Throughout the season, EFL Clubs and Club Community Organisations (CCOs) deliver a number of programmes to help individuals reduce their weight and improve their overall physical health.

This includes FIT FANS, a 12-week programme currently run by over 30 Clubs, that has continued throughout the coronavirus pandemic with many sessions adapted to be delivered online. Thousands of participants have taken part across the network and over 10,000 people have tuned in to the FIT FANS online campaign that was launched in April and is still available here.

One of those participants is Bristol City fan, Brian Packer who, upon receiving the diagnosis of type two diabetes, made the decision to take action and make changes to his lifestyle in order to improve his health.

At the beginning of 2020, Brian joined the Foundation’s FIT ROBINS programme and was part of the first cohort on this new health and well-being project. Just six months - and three-and-a-half stone later - he's feeling fitter and healthier than ever before.

During the first 12 weeks of the FIT ROBINS programme, Brian lost a staggering 10% of his starting weight and continued on this positive trajectory after lockdown restrictions were implemented, losing a further stone.

The health benefits of the FIT ROBINS programme have not stopped there for Brian. Thanks to the initiative and the healthier lifestyle that Brian now leads as a result of the programme, his blood sugar level has returned to a healthy range and he is no longer diabetic. 

Brian said: “FIT ROBINS has really helped me in my weight loss and fitness journey. It’s great that the team I support and love has put so much time and effort into helping its fans to improve their health.

“The coaching team have been superb, making exercise fun through sporting activities and giving us the knowledge to make better food and lifestyle decisions. I’ve lost more than 10% of my weight since the start the programme and feel much healthier and more energetic as a result.”

Similarly, Stoke City Community Trust participant Raymond Harrison has also benefitted greatly from his involvement.

Before the start of the programme, he had stopped doing physical activity at the age of 38 because of family and his own business commitments, which led to weight increase over the year. During this time, Raymond always supported his team, Stoke City, and was drawn to the FIT POTTERS programme after noticing an advertisement.

Raymond has attended all sessions at the club's home stadium and those live via Zoom, which include specific muscle workouts, walking and running sessions, flexibility sessions and walking football. He's also been working hard at home, with daily and weekly step counts, whilst doing daily bike rides and home workouts.   

He said: "When I was younger, I played local league cricket and football on a weekly basis, but when I was 38, I stopped playing sports due to family and business commitments. This led to my weight increasing from 80 kilos to 95 kilos+ over the next 25 years. I was reluctant to do anything to rectify this until a few years ago my doctor informed me that I had type two diabetes and even then I found it difficult to break old eating and lack of exercise habits.

"But when I saw the FIT FANS programme advertised by my beloved Stoke City, I was galvanised into joining - purely because it was Stoke City-run. I have been amazed at what this program has done for me over the last 12 weeks. My weight has reduced by eight kilos to date and my blood sugar level has lowered. I have averaged over 12,000 steps per day and am now focused to continue this until I have reached my target of a 10% reduction in body weight and waist reduction."

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