Friends take on 24-hour fitness challenge to raise money for Mind after being inspired by Joe Wicks

Three friends from Leeds are taking on a 24-hour fitness challenge after being inspired by celebrity trainer Joe Wicks.

By Rebecca Marano
Sunday, 24th January 2021, 6:00 am

The coach, who was given an MBE for his online PE classes during the first lockdown, took on the intense challenge for Children in Need in November 2020.

His efforts raised more than £2million for charity.

Now three young women are determined to complete a similar challenge themselves, hoping to inspire other people to take up exercise and look after their mental health.

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Kirby Leigh Gifford, Yasmin Cockett and Katie McBrinn are taking on a 24-hour-fitness challenge to raise money for Mind.

Kirby Leigh Gifford, 25, from West Park, is taking on the 24-hour workout challenge with friends Yasmin Cockett, 23, and Katie McBrinn, 26, both from Kirkstall.

She said: "We were watching Children in Need and Joe Wicks's 24 hour workout challenge and we all said: 'shall we do something like this too?'

"Coincidentally, a few weeks later, both Katie and Yasmin, who work for Aviva, had Joe as a guest speaker as part of a well-being week at work.

"They asked him for some advice on how to tackle the challenge, and he said it is all about mindset. That really spurred us on.

"It gave us something to aim for and now we are all nervous but looking forward to it."

The friends have decided to do the challenge to raise money for mental health charity Mind.

It comes as stark figures by the Centre for Mental Health estimated around 8.5m adults and 1.5m children across the country were likely to need mental health support in the wake of Covid-19, with most for depression and anxiety but also for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In Leeds, mental health experts have been describing a deteriorating situation in the city, with the pandemic exacerbating issues for those with existing problems but also affecting others for the first time.

The friends said exercise has been key to maintaining their own mental health, and it is something that Kirby has found particularly useful as she has been placed on furlough since March 2020.

Kirby said: "I have been furloughed since March and it is the only thing that has given me routine and kept my sanity.

"I actually qualified as an online coach too and the reason I have hammered on about fitness so much is because it is so good for your mental health.

"I think a lot of people are really struggling right now with it being the third national lockdown.

"It can feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

"That's why we have chosen to do it for Mind because they have been a lifeline for so many this year."

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The three women will take on the challenge from 9am on Sunday, February 28 through to 9am on Monday, March 1.

They will incorporate different exercises such as running, walking, HIT workouts and are hoping to get a yoga instructor involved via Zoom too.

They are hoping to raise £1,000 for Mind.

Kirby said: "Our friends and family have been really positive about it but they have also been like 'are you sure?'

"They are really supportive but it is a huge challenge.

"However, it is such a good charity and spreads such a positive message so we feel really good and motivated about taking it on.

"We just want to have fun with it and hope people will get behind us."