Andy Douglas 

Perthshire, UK

"I started working out in my early teens, because I was asthmatic, weak, anxious and afraid... of everything and everyone! Before I knew how to train properly, I built up to running many miles six days a week, and doing hundreds of push-ups and sit-ups daily. I cured my asthma, developed confidence, and laid a solid foundation of self-belief and perseverance that remains with me still. I then move away to another city for university aged 17, and started drinking heavily. The next twenty years became a back and forth between destructive binges, and days of high anxiety, depression, and eventually getting myself to the gym or out for a run. I would go through lengthy periods of wellness, working out regularly, but my mental health would often still get the better of me and pull me back towards the abyss of drinking myself into numbness and oblivion. That had to change when I found out I was going to be a father. I stopped drinking, using fitness and strength training, combined with relaxation and breathing techniques, to stay sober and well. However, that ultimately wasn't enough, as I found myself working in insurance for a major banking group, because it seemed like something a grown up; with a family should do. My father had died young as a result of drinking, and I vowed this wouldn't happen to me and my son. My wife and I slowly realised how physical training had actually saved my life on so many occasions, helping me back from the edge, from pits of darkness, and ultimately enabling me to thrive, with outstanding energy levels and positive outlook. Following the passing of my mother, whose terminal cancer, the doctors said, was partially brought on by chronic stress, we gained our fitness qualifications, and launched a non-profit social enterprise - All Strong Scotland CIC. Our mission, with our small and welcoming gym and community wellbeing app, All Strong Mind & Body, is to support people to improve and better self-manage their mental health, build coping skills, and connect with others on similar journeys, through a blend of workouts, relaxations and peer chat. We work closely with several local charities, including those with autism, mental health issues, and those in addiction recovery, as well as many who just like to train in our unique atmosphere. People end up enjoying the process, and along with supporting their mental health and overall wellbeing, many become stronger, fitter and more confident than they thought was possible. This has been a few years of very hard work and long hours to bring our vision to life, and I am just now at a stage where I can look at my own journey. I love variety in fitness, and train intuitively. On my next birthday I will be 40, and my gift to myself is to be in the best shape of my life and the strongest I've ever been! I'm proof that fitness can save lives, and that all attributes and qualities, physical and mental, can be developed if you're willing to believe in yourself!"