Matt Clifford, Accountant St Jame's Palace Age 26.
At the end of the St Jame’s Place buddyboost challenge, we caught up with Matt to find out more about his experience of the challenge.
A bit of background on what your life was like before you started to exercise / have you always been active?
I have always tried to be as active as possible. I was always active as a child, but starting my career and working around my professional exams meant I became hindered when trying to squeeze in my daily activity. Despite this, I’ve always tried to remain as active as possible. Having now completed my professional exams, my attention has turned back to building the structure into my day during all the “free time” I theoretically now have!
How does being active help you in your everyday life?
Remaining active provides a basic level of structure to my day. It means I either start the day off with a positive attitude having completed something early doors, or I go to bed satisfied that I have managed to complete at least one thing in my day. It also means I have time to myself to help reset or clear my mind from anything negative which has happened recently. It provides me with the time to sort through my thoughts and create a practical solution to problems.
Can you give us a little bit of insight in to any difficulties or ‘life challenges’ you’ve overcome – and how either being active or having buddies has helped you?
Throughout my teenage years I struggled with mental health issues. School life wasn’t the easiest for me but I managed to channel lots of my negativity into exercise, quite often just to get away from everything and refresh my mind. I’ve always been very body-conscious too and continuing with exercise has always made me feel like I’m striving for better and solving the parts I dislike about myself the most.
Why did you take part in the buddyboost challenge?
I had many reasons for taking part in the challenge:
- I had a brief spurt of energy early in 2020 following the first lockdown in the Covid-19 pandemic but since then have been pretty lazy. I noticed I had so much time on my hands not being able to go anywhere but I never acted upon this to get out and do something. This challenge came at the perfect time to get me started.
- I joined a football team late in 2020 and I very quickly realised that my fitness levels left a lot to be desired. I was dropped from the first team and I needed some encouragement to fight my way back into the squad.
- During football training I picked up a hamstring injury which meant I was out of action for a while. This challenge not only gave the structure I needed to build my strength back up, but also the encouragement to try new exercises to assist in rehab.
- Being in the third lockdown, I was beginning to suffer a little with my mental health again, with lack of movement and fresh air – this was just the incentive I needed to get outside again.
- I’m running a half marathon in September and needed something to get me on track with training – this was just the ticket!
What did you like about the buddy concept and how did it help you?
I’ve always enjoyed the concept of helping others into success, so the buddy idea gave me the incentive to encourage others in participating and helping them along the journey. This had a reciprocal effect when I reach my own mental barriers by not wanting to let the team down. I really enjoyed the two-fold effect the having a team around you brings.
Have you seen benefits beyond physical fitness when taking part in buddyboost?
I’ve always noticed a positive impact on my own mental wellbeing when keeping active. Seeing my buddies also improve their happiness scores during the challenge only cemented my knowledge of how inter-linked activity and wellbeing really are and that it doesn’t only work for me.
What tips would you give to someone who is struggling to be more active?
The first session is always the most difficult. Whatever your reasons for not starting, put them to one side for half an hour. Set only one goal for your first session: be more active than you are at the moment. If you set a specific goal such as getting to 30 minutes, or lifting a certain weight, you’re more likely to fail and never try again. Just aim to be better than you were yesterday. Anything is better than nothing.
Are you going to continue being active now that buddyboost has finished?
Yes! It’s certainly set me on the right path to setting aside at least 30 minutes a day for activity.
What’s your next goal?
Continue training for my half marathon. My ultimate goal is sub 1 hr 50 mins, but I will be content with anything below 2 hrs.
Who do you think would benefit most from buddyboost and what advice would you give them?
There are a whole selection of people that could benefit from this: those returning to sport from injury, those who want to lose weight, those who are already active but want to strive for more, those who aren’t active at all and just want to do something, those who are struggling mentally and want to find a release. This list of people is never ending and whatever your reason you’ll be sure to love that feeling of completing the final day!