It is Green Ribbon month and a group of fitness enthusiasts are stepping up to the challenge of promoting physical health but also mental wellbeing as part of an ‘operation transformation’ style fundraiser.
For weeks, personal trainer Matt Cooney from MCfuturefitness in Nenagh, Co Tipperary has been putting himself and other 12 other volunteers through their paces as part of a great reveal challenge in aid of the mental health charity, GROW.
On May 21, Matt and his fellow participants will unveil the results of their endeavours in a before and after photoshoot in Galway city.
Matt, who works in the Fitness Factory in Nenagh and also runs his own online personal training website MCFutureFitness.com, signed up 12 eager participants to take part in the fitness challenge to raise funds for GROW and to promote the benefits of exercise on mental health and emotional wellbeing.
Those who have signed up for the great-reveal challenge include Brian Cooney, Philip Cullen, Brendan Kelly, Sharon Nagle, Neil Kevin, Thomas O’Connell, Pearse Morris, Louise Hickey, Barry Corcoran, Wayne Cawley, Daryl McGee and Edwina King.
For Matt, the challenge is an important way of raising awareness of GROW as well as opening up the conversation about mental health and the mind-body benefits of exercise.
“I wanted to do something related to health and fitness but also linked with mental health and promoting better awareness of mental health. GROW holds 120 peer support meetings across Ireland each week which are free to attend,” he says.
“Mental health and wellbeing affects us all. Having worked in the fitness industry for many years, I've experienced first-hand the benefits of exercise and a healthy diet on a person’s overall well-being.
"I see how even basic exercise can help people suffering from depression or anxiety. It’s also important that people see that anyone can attend a gym. You don’t have to be a top class athlete to join a gym or to take part in exercise,” he adds.