With a full-time job, a family to provide for including two young children with learning difficulties and struggling with stress, Joanne turned to a running group to help support her own wellbeing.
Living in Coatbridge with her husband and two children, the last 15 years hadn’t been plain sailing for Joanne, as she said: “I am not going to lie; it has been a difficult period for me to manage. My eldest son has a learning difficulty while my youngest has autism. Both also have a condition called Bronchiectasis, a chest condition that has seen them in and out of hospital during their early years and needing physio twice a day.
“Mixing their needs with a full-time job, left me with very little free time and resulting in poor physical and mental health as well as problems with my anxiety.”
In 2019 Joanne was attending Slimming World classes when up stepped Elaine, founder of the Jiggly Joggers – a community-based walking/jogging/running network in the East-End of Glasgow specifically for women looking to get active. It is part of the jogscotland network, which has nearly 300 sociable, supportive jogging groups around the country.
“When Elaine attended the Slimming World session and told the group about the Jiggly Joggers, I thought this was the group for me.
“I was about to turn 40 and wanted to make positive changes in my life so I nervously booked myself into one of the sessions. I was really anxious and scared of getting judged, given I had done very little physical activity for a long time, but forced myself into the car and off I went.”
“The group was so welcoming and made me feel comfortable straight away. It provided me with a gentle introduction to jogging and I have been hooked ever since. I started on the Couch to 5k before gradually increasing my distance.”
After completing two half marathons and finding lots of new friends, Joanne’s life and that of her family has dramatically changed for the better because of Jiggly Joggers.
“Jiggly Joggers is the best thing I have ever done, and I am so grateful to Elaine and the group for all their help and support in getting me to where I am now.
"I am no longer on any medication for my anxiety, I am feeling much better, I have lost loads of weight and despite everything that has happened over this last year, this is the first year I feel mentally strong in dealing with anything thrown my way!
“The group gives me that time away from the house and helps to alleviate some of the stress that builds up.
“I have also made multiple friendships with people who will be part of the rest of my life.”
Joanne is now a jog leader for the Jiggly Joggers and supports the running of the sessions as well as supporting the other women who attend.
“I am known as the ‘budgie’ within the group as I love to talk and I’m there if any of them want to have a chat or a rant about anything, from how their day was at work to any issues they may have at home or about general things.
“It’s great to be able to give back and help support other women, many of whom have the same self-confidence issues as myself. The group provides that safe space for participants to give their best, whatever that may be.
“As a result of being a jog leader my confidence has definitely increased, and I am feeling much happier with myself.
“If I was to say one thing to anyone looking to get into a sport or physical activity but they are reluctant to try it would be, ‘Don’t ever let your mind hold you back’.”
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