Barry Miller, ex-professional footballer for Doncaster Rovers, has recently become a Fit Rovers vet, following the completion of his Fit Rovers 8 week course.
Still involved with Doncaster Rovers as club chaplain, Barry spends a lot of time in and around the club, including in the Foundation Fitness gym, speaking with staff and participants on a regular basis.
That’s where he first heard about the Fit Rovers programme. “I’ve seen the advertisements in the gym and spoken to some of the staff about the programme too.
“Carol Haith I have to thank aswell, her and her husband have both completed Fit Rovers courses. I’ve known her a long time, she worked in the club shop when I was a player here, she’s been trying to get me to do this for a couple of years now!
“I’ve never had the motivation to do it before, but something clicked and I decided to join and I’m so glad I did.”
The first ex-professional footballer to take part in Fit Rovers, lost a total of 3.8kg and 11cm from his waist circumference during the initial 8 week course. Although it wasn’t all about losing weight for Barry.
“It’s more about the social aspect of the course. You hear different stories within the group and why people decided to join the course. Some struggle with mental health, and feel isolated. Then they come here, meet other people and the next thing you know, they’ve been coming together four or five years, attending together and exercising together.
“The bonus is you’re getting healthier, learning about the science behind what you’re doing and doing new activities.”
Barry signed for Doncaster Rovers in 2000 and spent 3 years at the club before being released and then retiring in 2006. Speaking of life after retirement as a professional, he said: “It can have a huge effect on your mental health. You go from being in a routine, having structure within your day. You’re told what to do, what time to do it, everything is planned for you, and then it just stops.
“It’s tough. You sometimes feel like you’re alone. Once you finish within football, that’s it. You’re left to your own devices really, which can be mentally tough.
“That’s why I’m so glad that I decided to do this. The way the course is structured, what is put in place for us and how it’s delivered by the staff too.
“You get weighed the first time you come here and it gives you motivation and incentive to hit the little targets you set yourself, your own goals and hitting those marginal gains.
“The exercise is good, but it’s the whole package. The motivation of doing something, it’s helped with my mental health and it’s made me enjoy exercising again.”
Greg Carroll, who delivers on the courses spoke of the possibility of the course being rolled out to more professional footballers when they retire: “A lot of players, once they retire, just stop playing and exercising.
"There’s potential for ex-professionals to come along to these courses, take part and learn about the healthy lifestyle and mental health benefits behind exercise, making that step into retirement, an easier one.”
For more information on the Fit Rovers courses available, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.