Stephanie's Story

Stephanie was approaching her 49th Birthday and was looking for ways to improve herself physically and mentally. After receiving an email from Cardiff City Football Club, which highlighted the new 12-week FIT Bluebirds programme, she signed up immediately.

Prior to joining FIT Bluebirds, Steph was suffering from PTSD, she was attempting to return to university to complete her masters in youth work and was planning for two big family events; her daughter’s wedding and her son's 21st birthday. However, she was struggling with her mental health and found herself in a very dark place.

“No matter what I did I just couldn't look forward to anything, I couldn't plan anything, I had no self-worth, and I didn’t know who I was anymore”.

When she arrived At Cardiff City Stadium for her first FIT Bluebirds session, Steph was immediately reassured to be joining a group of women who were in a similar situation to her, and made her feel that she wasn’t on this journey alone. Everyone in the group was from different backgrounds, different ages and different abilities but they were all there for the same reason; to get fit and learn how to develop and maintain lifelong healthy habits

“It was lovely to meet new people who were in the same situation as me - they found it hard to find the time to exercise and diet or didn't have the confidence to exercise and diet”

"I've said many a time, the slogan for the Community Foundation is ‘Our Club Changes Lives’, but for me, FIT Bluebirds saved my life"

The free 12-week programme gave Steph and her fellow FIT Bluebirds the opportunity to learn in a safe and welcoming space supported by our Community Foundation coach, Matt Jones.

“Matt didn't dictate what we should or shouldn’t eat, he added it in gradually like he did with the exercise. We weren't judged on what we did every week”

As the weeks progressed the group learned more about topics that would help support them in leading a healthier and more active lifestyle and covered subjects including the importance of sleep, food groups to alcohol consumption, and increasing their daily step count.
For Stephanie, it clicked! The information she was learning each week was sticking in her mind and made sense in a way that it hadn’t before – it was so much more than setting a goal weight or a calorie target, it was simply about learning how to maintain weight loss, develop healthy eating habits and improving the mental health of the individuals. Ultimately, the focus was on how participants felt.

“Matt never put any pressure on us, he just gradually builds up the sessions each week and we just began to feel improvements. Whether it was weight loss or inch loss or being more conscious of what we were eating. For me it finally gave me a sense of belonging.
I cannot imagine where I would be now if I hadn't had the opportunity to do this because it just gave me a massive sense of self again and gave me the opportunity to make changes that have made me feel physically and mentally better.”

Since completing the programme Stephanie has a renewed outlook on health and well-being. FIT Bluebirds has equipped her with the knowledge to continue her positive journey and has even inspired her to become a volunteer with Cardiff City FC Community Foundation!

“By volunteering I can combine the two of these things and hopefully make a difference to other people's lives. I've said many a time, the slogan for the Community Foundation is ‘Our Club Changes Lives’, but for me, FIT Bluebirds saved my life.

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