Blog: Jonathan Fletcher

The Preston dad of two is determined to get back in shape without giving up time with his kids. He invites local families to join him

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As a daddy, husband, occasional lad and sport development professional, potentially going through an early mid-life crisis, I’ve decided to set up my own business and solve the world’s problems through family friendly activities. Some of you might view this blog as a cynical move to spread the word about Family 1st Fitness (that’s exactly what this is – please like us on Facebook) but there’s every chance this could develop into some form of therapy for me, as I share the ups and downs of being a dad with two young children, trying to keep on top of the daily requirement of feeding and clothing them whilst working full time and trying to get this business off the ground.

I’ve decided to give this a go as ever since I became a dad my activity levels have plummeted and from nowhere I’ve developed quite an impressive dad bod. I’ve blamed this on work/my kids/Brexit but the reality is I’ve struggled to balance work/social/family life. I felt guilty working long days and then leaving the kids again to go and have a game of footy or go to the gym and then before I knew it I stopped going completely. I’m sure there’s other parents in the same boat so I’ve decided to do something about it and utilise my background in sport development to create a programme of activity that will allow me and the kids to get active and healthy together through play.

I’ve worked in sport development longer than I would like to admit, I’m a UEFA B football coach and I’ve delivered countless number of activities in the local community, witnessing first hand the positive impact sport and physical activity can have on the health and wellbeing of any individual and the wider community. My line of work is essentially understanding reasons for non-participation, identifying gaps in provision and implementing new initiatives to cater for those gaps. It sounds more impressive than it is! When we started a family I checked out what family activities there were that allowed us to spend quality time together whilst also getting a bit of exercise at the same time. It soon became clear that there wasn’t much on offer.

Which brings me back to my plan to conquer the world through family activities. Lambs are going to play a key role in this. Bear with me – this is going somewhere, I promise. Lambs feature in the Family 1st Fitness logo because it is the emblem of Preston – my home town. Preston’s is of a static lamb lying down but my intention is to get the people of Preston on the move and bring families closer together. So the four lambs working together to achieve a physical activity in the Family 1st Fitness logo, I like to think, in a warped way, represents quite well what the business is all about.

Each session will be based on storytelling (another skilled I’ve honed as a dad) and the physical activities will be an extension of the story, requiring the children and parents to work together in order to succeed at tasks. All activities can be tailored to suit the needs of your family, so it doesn’t matter how fit or physically active you are. The hope is that by playing on the imagination of children they will be lost in the adventure and unaware they are even exercising. Parents will know of course, but working together to achieve a task and seeing the enjoyment on their children’s faces will allow them to lose themselves in the moment too. The emphasis will be on creating an environment that allows children to get creative through physical play, and parents will be encouraged to join them for the ride. You’re never too old to play!

The ultimate aim is to develop a programme of activity that is very different to the traditional sporting and physical activity format and setting. Many parents spend their weekends running between different classes neglecting their own health – typically football for the boys and ballet for the girls. Why should that be the case? Families should be able to access activities together and experience the benefits that come with physical activity as a family.

I hope that there are other people out there who can relate to my story but, if not, please keep reading anyway as there’s every chance I will comically fail in the world of business and/or parenting! Either way it should make for good reading so I hope you can join me for the ride!

PS I hope somewhere my old high school English teacher Mr Metcalf is reading this. He said my D in GCSE English language wouldn’t get me far. Well, look at me now! Read it and weep, Mr Metcalf! (probably at the numerous grammatical errors – but you get my point).

Family 1st Fitness is hosting a free four-week programme of activity, starting Saturday 26 August, 10am-10.40am, at Avenham Park, Preston. Open to all families with children aged 3-11. All children need to be accompanied by an adult. For further information visit the Family 1st Fitness Facebook page

Interact: Responses to Blog: Jonathan Fletcher

  • John
    01 Aug 2017 15:57
    Inspirational, I know i'll be down there for sure!

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