Getting fit has made a big difference to Liam Reynolds.
He’s healthier and happier as a result, and his enthusiasm for exercise is spurring him on to his biggest challenge yet – completing the full 85-mile distance of the Manx Telecom Parish Walk.
Liam, 34, lives in Peel with his wife Victoria and their two daughters Ellie, five, and Aimee, two.
Just over a year ago Liam says he was a ‘stay at home dad feeling depressed’ and decided he needed a challenge to lift his spirits and improve his health, both physically and mentally.
Back then he weighed just over 15 stone and, even though he hadn’t been swimming for 15 years, decided to set himself an aquatic challenge to get in shape.
He signed up to take part in the TT Swim Challenge organised by the Western Swimming Pool in Peel. It’s a charity event challenging participants to swim the equivalent distance of the 37.75 mile TT Mountain Course in just 12 weeks.
Liam said: ‘In addition to getting fit I also wanted to use the event to raise funds for a hospice in the UK. My father-in-law was very ill with cancer at that time. Half way through the challenge he passed away.’
Liam bravely decided to continue with the challenge in order to complete his goal of raising funds for the hospice.
However, he had to miss over a month of pool time and this meant he ended up swimming 21 miles in 17 days.
‘It was a gruelling experience, but I completed it and thanks to the generosity of those who supported me managed to raise £575 for the hospice in memory of my father-in-law.’
Achieving his target despite the physical and emotional challenges boosted Liam’s confidence, which he then channelled into setting himself even more ambitious goals.
Next up, he started doing the super-tough Insanity and T25 home fitness workouts. These involve high-intensity, short duration, workout routines which combine aerobic and strengthening exercises designed to push the body to the limit. He completed the challenges and, in addition to significantly improving his strength and endurance, lost 50lbs in weight.
Now he has set himself what in the Isle of Man is regarded as the ultimate endurance challenge – completing the 85-mile Manx Telecom Parish Walk in 24 hours.
‘I’m planning to finish the full distance. That’s easier said than done, but I’m building the miles up in training and focusing on distance rather than speed. I moved to the island 13 years ago from Essex so I’m familiar with what the Parish Walk means and how tough it is. When I told friends and family in England about it they all said I was stark raving mad to try and walk 85 miles in a day!
‘But they’ve also been supportive, especially as they have seen the transformation from what I looked like before I started exercising to what I look like now.’
Liam’s mum, who still lives in Essex, is going to travel to the island on the big day to be part of his support crew. If Liam achieves his goal of completing the Manx Telecom Parish Walk there probably won’t be anyone else crossing the finish line who has improved their fitness so much in such a short time.
Liam is appealing for sponsorship for his challenge with funds going towards The Children’s Centre’s Action, Songs and Rhymes project. To sponsor him go to http://justgiving.com/iom
If you are inspired by Liam’s example you have until May 11 to enter the walk which takes place on Saturday June 21. Sign-up at www.parishwalk.com – entry costs £30 which includes a commemorative Manx Telecom Parish Walk technical tee-shirt and goodie bag.
What has inspired you to take part in the Parish Walk this year? Island Life will look to feature some of the stories of those taking part. Email your details along with a short explanation on why you have signed up to firstname.lastname@example.org