BALLYMENA’S All Saints GAC award winning health and well being programme, Saints & Slimmers, returned for a fifth successive year last week.
Established in January 2016, the six week project has witnessed a record 160 participants sign up for this year’s programme.
Those taking part are teamed with fellow "Slimmers" in a bid to be crowned overall Saints & Slimmers Champions, 2020.
With health and well-being at its heart, Saints & Slimmers provides opportunities for regular team exercise, promotion of positive mental health, development of teamwork skills, dance and many social activities.
Participants have been assigned to a team and are following a six week programme of activity.
Those involved will be spin cycling in the early morning before winding down with a brisk walk that evening.
Circuit training, aerobic workouts and the all important team challenges will keep everyone entertained, while the finale dance-off in the splendour of the Tullyglass House Hotel will provide a fitting celebration of the participants efforts.
But don’t let the “Slimmers” reference mislead you.
This programme is about far more than that as Club Chairman Jim Brady elaborates: “Our annual programme places its emphasis clearly on the achievement of personal goals for all involved.
“For some that might be simply getting out of the house for an activity at a time of the year when the long nights and inclement weather may put you off leaving home.
“For others it may be an opportunity to meet new people, to try something new or indeed … to lose some weight.
“Whatever the goal, the programme seems to have captured the imagination of local people in great numbers since it started four years ago with some 600 people in total taking part.
“As well as providing the participants with a range of activities to undertake we offer mental wellness sessions, a range of social events to attend and many opportunities to step outside of their comfort zone.
“All of our fitness tutors are locally based and that means that as well as channelling funding towards them during the programme they also get a chance to show off their product and attract spin-off business as a result throughout the remainder of the year”.
In 2017 the programme was recognised at the Irish News Club & Volunteer Awards when it was awarded the prestigious award for best Club Health & Well Being initiative.
This year's programme sees participants range in age from 18 to 65 years of age and activities are tailored to individual need and fitness.
Charity features as an integral part of the programme and last year the organisers at All Saints designated the McMillan Unit at Antrim Area Hospital as the beneficiaries of their efforts.
A sum of over £5k was raised principally through the team “Spinathon” at the Harmony Hub in the centre of Ballymena in February.
This year a similar event on Saturday, February 8 will raise funds to benefit the Children’s Hospice.
The club would like to thank those local sponsors who have supported individual teams and events.
They include Ballymena Running & Athletic Club, McKillop’s Spar Frys Road, Connolly’s Spar Dunclug, Tullyglass House Hotel and the overall programme sponsor Galgorm Resort and Spa.
The theme for the teams this year are flowers and they are appropriately named as: The Teamkit Tulips, The Do-Jo Daffodils, The Doherty Meats Marigolds, The Fitzsimons Opticians Foxgloves, The Pizza Parlour Pansies, The Knockdene Healthcare Heathers, The Flamingo Forget Me Nots, The Sitting Room Snowdrops, the Studio 365 Sunflowers, The Steele Physio Primroses, the Prime Fitness Ponsettias and the Rafferty Property Roses.
So over the next few weeks if you happen to see a group of Roses or Pansies jogging past you on the street give them a shout of encouragement and help them to bloom!