The theme of last week’s column was celebrating people in Sunderland who have had great success in their chosen field or done exceptional things, but have kept it fairly quiet, so not many people are aware of them and their story.
It seems that this is a popular topic, as I’ve had lots of conversations this week around this subject, and we certainly have some major talent in our city.
This week I met with David Bolt, from Silksworth, to discuss working with him as his fitness coach as he prepares to represent Team England at the Commonwealth Games in Australia later this year.
David competes in the sport of lawn bowls, and is one of a team of five who have been chosen to represent our country at the event, which is an incredible achievement.
To many people, bowls may not sound like a very physically challenging sport, and many will pigeon hole it as an older person’s sport, but after chatting to David, that couldn’t be further from the reality.
Thirty-nine-year-old David has been playing the sport since the age of 10 and has competed at an international level since he was 16, and he tells me that the age range at the clubs he plays at is very broad indeed, attracting everyone from school children to those in their 80s.
As I listened to David speak so passionately about the sport, I could immediately see the health benefits associated with playing bowls.
It certainly isn’t a bootcamp class at your local gym, but it does burn calories, as an game can last up to four hours, and in that time players can average 120 lunges while bowling a 1.5kg bowling ball, so it certainly isn’t to be sniffed at as a form of physical activity.
Then, of course, there is the social element, which many people tend to overlook when it comes to health.
Meeting people, conversing with friends and generally enjoying yourself with others is important for mental well being … health and fitness doesn’t always have to be about sweat and calories.
I remember when I first starting going to my Mam’s fitness classes back in the early ’90s (only to watch as I was only five), I soon realised that everyone was there for different reasons; some to lose weight and get fit and others to socialise and de-stress, and sadly I think the fitness industry has lost some focus on this element, so it’s great to know that there are sports and activities in the local area that are promoting this key part of overall well being.
As we carried on our conversation, I mentioned that my Grandad Joe used to play bowls and won several very big trophies, and it turns out that David knew him, as did many of the people in Sunderland bowls community, proving what a small and very friendly world Sunderland can be.
David’s 28 years of hard work have certainly paid off and I’d like to wish him the best of luck at the Commonwealth Games this year as he puts Sunderland on the map on an international stage and as he continues to work hard to develop and shine a light on a sport that he loves and that can benefit so many people.