Luke Newton of Sweat Fitness takes a sideways look at how there’s more to keeping ourselves fit and well than simply exercising
Many of us have suffered varying degrees of social isolation over the past few months. Although isolation might be perceived as being negative, I’ve heard countless accounts of people who used the isolation they encountered as an unexpected chance to reflect on their lives and their futures. The chances are that most of us are somewhere in the middle – having had our deep and meaningful moments, alongside less inspiring days, drinking too much wine or bingeing on chocolate biscuits.
At the start of the year, my life and business partner Tina was about to announce the launch a new wellness festival at Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard. We wanted to base the festival upon the 6 pillars of wellness, each entwined with the other: physical, mental, emotional, social, environmental and spiritual wellness. The festival didn’t go ahead of course, but we strongly believe in the importance of those 6 pillars to help achieve a healthy and fulfilling life. They now seem more important than ever. We ran an anonymous survey of seventy-five of our gym members and over 90% suggested they were exercising though lockdown to serve their mental wellbeing, as much as for the physical benefits. I’m not sure we would have had such a response pre-COVID. It really is positive to consciously exercise to look after ourselves for more than just our physical wellbeing. Many of us are realising the importance of nurturing more meaningful relationships, of spending our time and our money more wisely, of supporting local businesses, and considering our responsibilities towards the environment. In short, assessing what really matters to us.
Putting it into practice
I think that to find true wellbeing, we need to look at each aspect of wellness. We may not have come out of lockdown with abs of steel, but we could take steps to be less sedentary and to exercise or train daily. I was recently surprised by a group of my friends joining a WhatsApp group with the intent of being more active and healthier. Without COVID, this would never have been mooted. The conversation was centred around feeling better, having more confidence, being better people, and better parents. Most friends, acquaintances, and clients I’ve spoken to in the past few months have a newly-found openness to discussing wellness, and it is really refreshing. I hope that the conversations continue, and I hope that our local authorities join in and support us too. We have an opportunity as a community to close roads to traffic, to eat, exercise, cycle, and play outside. Our island city is compact and could be the first in the UK to truly put pedestrian and cycle traffic first. We have an opportunity to reverse some of the impacts our lives have on our oceans. As a coastal city, let’s have those conversations whilst understanding it is about our collective wellness – with each aspect entwined.