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Throughout the Active Places pilot, Samantha has been an advocate for Active Shildon. Her physical activity journey began at the Parkletics training day in Hackworth Park in October 2020. Despite trying to get into physical activity previously, nothing ever really stuck. During lockdown, Samantha found her fitness deteriorating and she struggled with day-to-day tasks, so she signed up for Parkletics. She felt empowered by the training and started completing multiple Parkletics sessions a week. Soon she was incorporating kettlebells into her exercise programme. Samantha told us, “I could my fitness improving. I felt stronger, had more stability and everything was easier.” She reported sleeping and eating better as a result of her new exercise routine and felt her mental health improving, “at difficult times it takes you away, fresh air, focus on your exercise, listen to your music and feel positive after.”

This was just the beginning! Parkletics acted as a catalyst for Samantha’s physical activity journey. Since that day, she has participated in a range of exciting activities. She started running, then began aerial yoga! Samantha told us, “I thought, if I could flip myself upside down doing aerial yoga, I can do anything”.

Samantha initially got active as an individual as she didn’t want other people’s expectations to affect her. Since her confidence has improved, she participates in a variety of activities within group settings. She feels the social side of it has a positive effect on her mental health. For Samantha, getting active is all about the psychological impact and feeling more mobile.

In addition to aerial yoga, Samantha takes part in a bootcamp in the forest (spot her leg pressing a tyre, plus her trainer, below!), dancercise, and has the confidence to go to the gym. She attends dancercise with her mum, who doesn’t get out of the house much but whose interest has been piqued by the classes. This is truly in the spirit of being an Active Friend! We are keen for Samantha to complete the training to become an official Active Friend. She’s a natural!