"The gym is my medication": The effect closing gyms is having on users in Lancashire
A reformed addict has spoken out about the effect closing gyms will have on people 'on the edge'.
Alex Fishwick, 45, has been in prison five times, but since his last release in 2017, has turned his life around.
After joining Caritas Care’s ACE (ex-offenders) project and its association Men After Prison (MAP) group, he has delivered workshops to young people, police, social work students and police cadets about life in prison, his addiction and mental health.
>>>Read Alex's story here
The father-of-four from Preston is now studying a degree in psychology and criminology and is working at Booths in Penwortham.
But he says the closure of gyms under lockdown restrictions will threaten his recovery from alcoholism, drug addiction and severe self harm.
He said: "The gym is fundamental to the structure of my life.
"It's about routine, socialising with people, talking to people there about my problems, it helps my sleeping and my overall well-being. It's a release for me."
Alex trains four to five days a week at the SAS Gym on Moss Side Industrial Estate. After previously being a marathon runner, he's turned his attention to strongman training.
He said: "The kind of training I do at the gym, I just can't do at home. I'm doing absolutely nothing at the moment, and I'm worried about how that's going to affect my mental health and the mental health of other people who are on the fringe of going one way or another.
"Personally I'm worried that these restrictions won't be lifted on December 2, and there are a few of us who have written to our local MPs to get the gym situation looked at, but we've heard nothing back.
"I think this lockdown might run and run, and then the NHS are going to be overburdened with people suffering from mental health problems, adddictions and obesity."
He added: "People need to understand that gyms are not just about exercise, this is a lifestyle for many people.
"And while I can understand what people think about gyms being a place where there's lots of people sweating, breathing heavily, touching equipment, I'd say that these people haven't been in a gym since the first lockdown.
"At SAS they've done so much work to be Covid-secure. There's hygiene stations, screens, everything's sanitised, areas to run on your own. I feel safe."