This blog has been written by Mark Laybourn, Personal Trainer, Body Control Pilates Teacher & Sports Massage Therapist here at Unique Results.

2020. An incredibly tough year for us all. Who would of thought that back in 2019 that we’d be moving into a year where we’re stuck inside, nowhere to go, no one to see. A whole world affected with the same horrendous outbreak, at the same time. Where do we go, who do we turn to?

Somewhat unanswerable questions.

“The new normal” “Circuit breaker” “Firebreaker”, cliche after cliche. No definitive answers, just confusion mounting as the year progresses.

We’re waving outside our older loved ones windows, blowing kisses, protecting lives. No hugs for grandparents from grandchildren. No socialising and having the tv news on what felt like 24/7.

Is it any surprise that mental health has become a huge issue. All we hear, everyday is pessimistic news. The media will only ever focus on sensationalising any tiny bit of negative stories that they can. I’m sure there are many out there with a very positive story to tell, but the likelihood of actually hearing about these stories are, sadly, quite rare. Thankfully Captain Sir Tom Moore kept our spirits up!!

Gaming time was on the increase (if it was down to me alone, the xbox would have a date night with my sledgehammer!!!). But during lockdown it was the ONLY way children could have social interaction with their friends. And lets be brutally honest here, that mustn’t EVER be taken away. So I had to embrace it somewhat and except the fact that this was how it was going to be for now.

Then, I had a wee lightbulb moment back in May when we were all in the national lockdown. Thanks mainly to Ben’s school teacher. Now far be it for me to lay claim to this. I’m certainly not the first person to think of this during lockdown for the health and wellbeing of my family, but maybe I’m just the first to put my thoughts down into words.

Bens teacher was (as far as I’m aware) going to take part in the London Marathon. Now that, was, of course as we all know, cancelled. So. She laid down a challenge to all of her students. The challenge was to complete a marathon distance of approximately 42km during the month of May. Either walking, running or cycling with your family.

Now for some, this may not be much of a challenge. But for many, I’m sure it is and not just physically, especially this year.

When Ben told this to me, my thought was “What a brilliant idea. Why don’t we give it a go. What do you think boys?”

With all in agreement, off we went. However, by the time we’d seen the challenge, we’d already been out on our bikes together and completed about 47km in about 3 days. “Oh, we appeared to have done it. Now what?!”

“Boys. Lets keep going throughout May and see just how far we can cycle” So we did.

By the end of May it was dubbed “May 100” Not just 100km but even Joshua with his little 9yr old legs completed a 100 mile cycle ride throughout the month. Almost every day were out cycling. One of longest rides was over 20km.

By the end of the month both Jo and I were so immensely proud of the boys for sticking with the rides, enjoying it, embracing it and not letting the situation that we’re all living in get them down any more than it needs to. They have something to look back on. Something positive, an achievement. Particularly for Joshua. He’s suffered from anxiety during the recent months. Sadly, not uncommon with many many children but with achievements like this to look back on, hopefully it’ll go a long way to building confidence and proving that life is still out there to be lived.

I hope that this blog will go some way in helping you whilst reading this, that there is a ray of light out there. It feels rather difficult to agree with me, I understand that fully. Believe me, we’ve had our share of difficult times, some of which sadly are only going to get somewhat worse for us as time goes by. But, and its a BIG but!! I remain optimistic that life will improve. We don’t know when, but it will improve.

Having our good memories to look back on is a fantastic reminder for us as a family that “life” is still possible in some way. It’ll no doubt be different for you as it has been for me, jo and the boys but I truly hope that you’ve something to look back on that will make you smile in some way.

As I sit and write this the newest “cliche” is upon us “Lockdown 2”.

Yes it’ll be sensationalised by the media and exhausted by the general public but, here we go again. So, if you can’t do what you do, do what you can!! Now there’s a song title!! Had to sneak it in before I sign off. Maybe that’ll make you grin if you know me well. Or probably roll your eyes !!

So, my point is, it all comes down to memories. Is there something that has happened to your and your family that stays with you. The next few weeks will of course be another challenge for us but maybe something will brighten your days. “Vaccine” is now the new buzz word. It may not be available for a while yet but at least there is now a glimmer of hope for us all. Life WILL return, we WILL share times, great times with family and friends again. So in the meantime, stay connected as much as you can. Keep active when you can. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay positive……