Fitness and wellbeing has always been essential for everyone, but the COVID-19 pandemic has really put our health centre stage.

Trafford Council and Trafford Leisure (which manages the community leisure centres across Trafford) are dedicated to getting more people active across the borough, so it’s critical council leaders practice what they preach.

The Messenger will be following the fitness journeys of Andrew Western, Trafford Council Leader and Liz Patel, Executive Member for Leisure and Culture, over the next few months.

Eight stone weight loss!

Andrew Western, has used the lockdown to change his life for the better, shedding eight stone. And this is just the start of his fitness ambitions.

He said: “I want to inspire others to ‘give it a go’. If I can do it, then so can you! There’s no point asking our constituents to make efforts to become healthier if we are not doing the same ourselves.”

Extra weight puts extra pressure on your body, which makes it harder to fight against diseases like cancer, heart disease and now COVID-19. A new Public Health England (PHE) report confirms that being overweight increases the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19. Almost two-thirds of adults in England are overweight, with people aged 55 to 74, those living in deprived areas and certain black, Asian and minority ethnic groups more severely affected.

Andrew, 35, said: “I’d had enough. I’d been unwell during the general election last year; I felt sluggish, run down and I was also plagued with back problems. My weight had become a problem and I knew I had to get control of my life and my poor habits.”

Andrew started a calorie-controlled diet and steadily the weight started to come off. He added: “I over ate, and after a long day at work with the council I was tired and would order a takeaway. The start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March gave me space to stop and think about how I could change my life for the long term. Andrew is also running and started in April, when he could just about manage one mile. It was really difficult, he was out of breath, hot and sweaty.

Andrew, who lives in Sale, recently joined a circuits class at Trafford Leisure’s Sale Leisure Centre. The class takes place in the main sports hall - spaced out to allow effective social distancing.

This is the first exercise class Andrew has ever participated in. He said: “The Circuits class was fantastic! I was impressed at how inclusive and supportive the class was and how friendly both the instructor and participants were. The class was tough, and it pushed me out of my comfort zone. It really brought it home that fitness and wellness comes in all shapes and sizes.”

n Next week we will feature how Liz Patel has been getting on before the recent lockdown.