Back in February, JB Personal Training had a visit from Radio 4's Today programme. The much respected journalist and former BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson came to one of our Ultrabox classes to sample the views of our members on the EU referendum. Four months later, it felt a little strange returning to the hall synonymous with our exercise classes to cast my referendum vote. The award-winning Lydiard Millicent Parish Hall is one of the many community buildings acting as local polling stations.
Nick's visit had been inspiring in itself. I have huge admiration for the way he has bounced back from a battle with lung cancer. I have even more respect for his courage in taking on one of our Ultrabox class regulars! (You don't mess with these ladies - one of them recently chased a pair of marauding youths for a good mile and a half, very confident she could look after herself, despite being in her sixth decade).
Arguably, there are two equally valid philosophies underpinning the opposing sides of the referendum debate. The first, used by the Remain campaign, is the belief that we are "stronger together". The second, as posited by the Leave side, promotes taking control of our own destiny. The EU referendum debate has been framed in such a way to suggest these philosophies are mutually exclusive. Luckily, in our everyday lives, and specifically as far as our health and fitness is concerned, this is not the case.
When it comes to transforming your nutrition and exercise habits, your friends can't do the hard work for you. They can't eject you from the couch and make you take that first step. Ultimately, you must deeply want to, and also be ready, to change. The initial desire and motivation has to come from within. When the going gets tough, the voice inside your head willing you to stop will be louder than any around you. Whether you continue to be a slave to bad health and excess weight, or bite the bullet and become the best possible version of yourself - you are the one who has to take control and shape your own destiny.
Nonetheless, the camaraderie and support of like-minded peers can prove invaluable in improving adherence to a healthier lifestyle. This is unquestionable, as illustrated by the success of the fantastic women in our JB fitness tribe. United by the common goal of improving their fitness and losing weight, they have achieved feats they never dreamed possible, from running marathons to fitting into clothes sizes they haven't worn in decades. They help each other through the rough times and collectively celebrate their achievements - the embodiment of "stronger together".
Whilst debates such as that of the EU referendum often polarise and divide, there are fundamental truths we should accept from both sides. And when it comes to improving your health and fitness, you might get there by going it alone, but it is a whole lot easier making that journey with friends.