AN Academy based initiative that had the purpose of encouraging men in Ayrshire to lead healthier lifestyles and improve their general fitness levels has seen excellent results and participants have reaped the benefits of what was a pioneering scheme.
In May, Ayr United Football Academy teamed up with On Site Health Solutions Ltd (OSHS) – a local occupational health company – to provide 12 weeks of activities, culminating in a ‘closing ceremony’ that was held at Somerset Park earlier this month in order to celebrate the achievements of and enthusiasm shown by all concerned.
The engaging work was overseen by the Academy’s Head of Sports Science, Tony Bryson, and explaining his role, as well as relaying his hopes for similar ventures in the future, Tony said:
“I have been organising and planning this since October of last year, and I am so happy that it finally came together in such a positive way. We have had a great response from the men who decided to take part and this positive implementation and feedback will hopefully lead to the programme running again in the future.”
Designed to enable men who are aged 35 and over to involve themselves in sport and be more active, sessions lasted for two hours overall throughout each week and comprised of an hour that was devoted to physical strengthening and offering health and lifestyle advice to attendees. The final hour was then spent playing football. Information on local leisure facilities and various physical activity options that are open to residents living in the area was also made available so that they could continue in this vein after the run of events had ended.
Taking place at the Pro-Soccer complex, situated in Whitletts in Ayrshire, the programme also included challenging tasks such as upper body, lower body and core strengthening circuits. OSHS were on hand for the duration to deliver various educational workshops including health heart and drugs and alcohol.
In order to record their own progress, those who had signed up to pilot the project were provided with diaries, and it was from these that the partaker was able to see how much they had gained from the practical and learning related elements that they had been exposed to.
At the beginning and end of the outlined period, the participants were given full body screenings from OSHS staff present. This involved testing for diabetes and height and weight checks, as well as each person having their key body measurements taken. Other vital signs – including blood pressure, lung function, cholesterol levels and liver function – were also noted as a measure that would allow the general levels of wellbeing to be examined and evaluated after the allotted time had elapsed in order for improvements to be seen and analysed.
Following the three months of effort given to the project, those concerned said it was something that had been of great personal benefit to them.
39-year-old Kenny Paterson could not speak more highly of the experience that he had, commenting:
“There is no doubt that the increased levels of physical activity provided by the programme has really helped me and I have gained knowledge and advice that will be of fantastic use in the long term.”
Iain Little, aged 52, echoed this positivity, saying that, for him, the scheme had not only brought physical rewards, but it had had an impact on his social life, too.
He added: “I definitely feel fitter, healthier and I have lost weight. Socially, the programme has benefited me as I have gained new friends and new found confidence”
The ‘Honest Men’s Health Programme’ is one that fulfilled its vision and the Club are extremely pleased with the outcome, the success of which was largely aided by the work of our partners, OSHS. Everyone at the Academy would like to extend sincere thanks to them for their commitment to and part played in the cause.
Garry Savage, Director of On Site Health Solutions said “We were keen to do something with a local project since moving to Ayr. As an avid Ayr United supporter, my first instinct was to sponsor a strip or player. However, Davie White and Davie Watson contacted us with the idea of a Men’s Health Programme and it fitted in well with our business and we believed it gave us a bigger and better opportunity to show our commitment to both Ayr United and to the people of Ayr and surrounding as well. We have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this programme and have seen some dramatic improvements in both health and fitness. We will continue to support the participants of this first programme in the coming years and look forward to working with Ayr United Football Academy in the future on similar projects.
Report by Cheri Burns