Rugby ace to improve Wigan Youth Zone teens' mental fitness with work-outs

Teens at Wigan Youth Zone centre will be put through their paces this month by a former rugby professional, as part of a new 2022 Workout for your Wellbeing programme.

By Charles Graham
Friday, 14th January 2022, 3:45 pm

The brand-new six-week programme is being run by former Leigh Centurions player and founder of wellbeing workout app - Banish, Jamie Acton.

Kicking off on January 20, the programme was inspired by the personal mental health journey of Jamie and aims to help the young people at Wigan Youth Zone improve their mental wellbeing by increasing the amount of regular physical exercise they undertake.

The new Workout for your Wellbeing programme will include three face-to-face sessions with Jamie at the youth zone, as well as free unlimited access to the Banish app for everyone at the centre on an ongoing basis.

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Jamie Acton and the Wigan Youth Zone sports team undergoing a Banish induction prior to the training sessions. (L-R) Dave Philp (Head of Sports at WYZ), Tom Fairhurst (PT at WYZ), Piyush Pandey (PT at WYZ), Emily Tait (PT at WYZ), Jamie Acton (Banish founder) and Eric Andrews (PT at WYZ).

Dave Philp, Head of Sports at Wigan Youth Zone, said: “We’re so excited to be able to launch this activity for our young people in January 2022 – not only will it get their year off to a great start, it’s a massive support to our own push to get more young people active and improve their physical and mental wellbeing.

“Over the past two years it’s been really hard for the young people that we work with, we have definitely seen their activity levels reduce through no fault of their own. This has a noticeable impact on their wellbeing. So, they are also really looking forward to getting some face-to-face training from a former professional rugby player and personal trainer, as well as using the app whenever and wherever they want.”

The partnership began after Jamie approached Wigan Youth Zone, believing the young people at the centre could benefit from increased exercise to support their own mental wellbeing – particularly following months of lockdown and reduced organised group sports.

“In my personal experience, prolonged periods of inactivity always triggered a drastically worse state of wellbeing,” said Jamie, who retired from professional rugby in 2019 and subsequently faced his own battle with his mental health.

“When I retired from rugby I fell into a very negative spiral. I discovered that for me, daily exercise is essential in maintaining a healthy mental wellbeing. But I know how hard getting daily exercise has been for many people during lockdown, with reduced access to equipment or even lack of space to just get moving. As we all know, this can lead to reduced motivation.

“I felt that this must have been especially hard for young people – as so much of their activity is usually undertaken in groups, at school or sports clubs.

“So, to start 2022 I was really keen to work with Wigan Youth Zone, an organisation local to me, and offer the young people there some face-to-face sessions and free access to the Banish app.

“I’m really looking forward to working with the team and the young people at the centre and can’t wait to see the impact it has for them – I know it’s something I would’ve welcomed when I was younger.”

The first app of its kind, Banish focuses on working out with the sole purpose of improving users’ mental health and wellbeing, rather than focusing on their fitness levels or physical appearance.

The activity will be taking place during Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week (February 7) and Time to Talk Day (February 3) – highlighting the importance of mental wellbeing among young people.

It also comes after Sport England published its Active Lives Children and Young People Survey Report for Academic Year 2020-21 in December. The report shows that in the 2020-21 period, activity levels amongst secondary school-aged children have fallen by around four per cent year-on-year.

The report shows that more active children (those undertaking more than 60 minutes of activity on average per day) felt happier than those that were less active, they were more likely to report a positive attitude and have a more positive association with personal development.

In addition, the report revealed that Lancashire was amongst the counties with lower levels of active children, with 40.01 per cent to 44 per cent doing an average of 60+ minutes of activity a day.

For more information on Wigan Youth Zone visit wiganyouthzone.org and to discover more about the Banish fitness app, go to banishfitness.com.

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