‘I know the benefits fitness has on the mind’ – Ex-serviceman to start up fitness programme at his Royston gym to help veterans with mental illnesses
PUBLISHED: 15:50 18 August 2016 | UPDATED: 16:00 18 August 2016
An Australian ex-serviceman has drawn on his own experiences of suffering mental illness during his military career to help other veterans with a free fitness and well-being programme at his Royston gym.
David Ayliffe – also known as ‘Aussie’ – runs the Fighting Fit UK centre at The Heath Sports Club in Baldock Road and is offering to set up the programme for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder sufferers who have been in the military or emergency services.
“I became made aware of the shocking statistics of the suicide rates of returned servicemen through the ‘22 press-ups in 22 days’ challenge on Facebook which raises awareness of the condition,” he said.
“The struggles those girls and guys face when they return – we need to get them to open up about it so they don’t become another statistic.”
David served in the Australian Army for more than 12 years and was posted to East Timor in Indonesia in 1999.
He suffered with depression and went through dark patches, which he said were due to things that had happened to him before he joined up, and then when he was away from his family during his military career.
David said he has played sport – like rugby league and rugby union – and been involved in fitness for most of his adult life, but it became an extremely important tool in helping him to recover from his mental illness. “I know personally the benefits fitness has on the mind and how hard it is for young fellas with depression,” he said.
“A number of my mates have taken their own lives, they couldn’t get the help and thought it was too much.”
Before the four-week programme for those with PTSD, anxiety or depression is launched, David is looking for contacts to bounce ideas off of like liaison or welfare officers from local military, police, fire and rescue and ambulance services.
The qualified personal trainer, gym instructor and rugby coach also wants those who think they could benefit from the programme to get in touch.
“The programme I want to get up and running is for emergency service and army personnel, to give something back to those guys and girls who have done so much for our community.”
If you are a welfare or liaison officer, or if you’re a veteran or have been in the emergency services and feel you could benefit from the programme, you can contact David directly on 07775 507590 for more information.