Two weeks after completing the London Marathon, Andy Griffin suffered a heart attack.
It was a difficult time for Andy and his family but soon after recovering he vowed to get himself into the shape of his life.
“I’ve never felt better,” said Andy, now 56.
“I never drank or smoked in my life so you can imagine my shock when the doctors told me I had suffered a heart attack.”
Andy completed ‘The Walled City Marathon’ last year and has been a prominent member of the Ballymagroarty and Hazelbank Community Partnership’s (BHCP) running group, ‘Cool Runnings’.
Last Monday, BHCP, launched a fitness programme called ‘Rise and Shine’.
The programme isn’t as intense as many of the fitness boot camps already happening in Derry.
“I go along to ‘Rise and Shine’ with my two daughters, Rosemarie and Carolynn,” said Andy.
“I might be one of the only men at the exercise class but it’s great fun and what better way to keep yourself fit than by exercising with your children?,” he smiled.
Andy’s daughter, Rosemarie Griffin, is a 33-year-old mother- of-two.
Rosemarie said if it wasn’t for her father she would have attended many of the other BHCP fitness classes, not to mention ‘Rise and Shine’.
“There’s no competition at all - when it comes to fitness my daddy is streets ahead of me, I just can’t keep up with him,” she laughed.
“I’ve never know someone to be dedicated and disciplined about taking care of themselves like my father.
“Even this morning he rang me after I got the kids out to school to see if I was ready to go and run the two bridges.
“The ‘Rise and Shine’ exercise class is not only great for getting fit - it’s cheaper than a fish supper,” she laughed.-
‘Rise and Shine’ is just the latest fitness programme to be launched by BHCP. Community Support Worker, Roxanne Nixon, said the initiatives have been helping to improve the physical and mental health of the area.
“We’ve just launched this year’s ‘Ballymac’s Biggest Loser’ and in 2013 we hosted countless fitness initiatives and we even founded our own little running club ‘Cool Runnings’.
“One of the messages we kept hearing from people was that some of the exercise courses were on too early in the morning or too late in the evening so we came up with ‘Rise and Shine’.
“It’s only been going one week but already we have almost 30 people taking part every Monday and Friday,” said Roxanne.
Like Rosemarie, 31-year-old Aishling McShane has been a long-term devotee of the health programmes at the BHCP.
Mum-of-three Aishling is a member of ‘Cool Runnings’ and explained the reason behind her decision to get involved with ‘Rise and Shine’.
“I am a stay at home mum so when the vast majority of the boot camps are taking place around Derry in the morning, I can’t go because I am busy getting the children ready for school.
“I am always busy getting the dinner ready for kids in the evening so when it comes to going to a class at night I am usually completely exhausted.
“‘Rise and Shine’ is perfect for me because it doesn’t start until 9.45am, plus it’s much cheaper than some of the other exercise classes,” she said.
Danny Quigley is one of the ‘Rise and Shine’ coaches. Danny said the feedback from participants has been excellent so far and revealed his secret is to make exercising fun.
“You’ll never catch me shouting at anyone. It’s all about having a good time and getting some exercise.
“It really is that simple,” smiled Daniel.
‘Rise and Shine’ takes place in Templemore Complex’s main hall every Monday and Friday morning from 9.45am to 10.30am. It costs £5 per week. For more information telephone Roxanne Nixon and the team at BHCP Offices in Ballymagroarty on 028 7127 1977
The ‘Cool Runnings’ running group meet in Dunnes car park at 7pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and at 10am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. All are welcome.