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Projekt42 aims to strengthen the connection between mental health and physical fitness, and help people understand the need to take care of both.
In 2012 , the founder, Sarah Hawkins, was diagnosed with PTSD and struggled to access the services she needed through the NHS. Projekt42 was launched with the idea of replicating the services that felt helped her during this time.
She tells her story:
“When I was diagnosed wth PTSD, I really struggled to navigate the support system. Lengthy waiting lists meant I had to wait over 12-months before I was assessed for support but several months passed before any treatment was provided. Whilst waiting for treatment I became more unwell, left work and stopped leaving the house.
To help, my friends purchased me a gym membership I started working with a personal trainer. I started to really enjoy working out and through the support of the personal trainer, I entered the Edinburgh Marathon. From there, I sought out counselling and life coaching.
Looking and understanding what type of treatments were available was challenging. I had no way of checking who the therapist was and where they had trained, whether they had the experience they said they had and did not know whether they’d be able to help me. The process of finding a counsellor was difficult, so much so; it added to my mental illness. The cost of the services were also expensive. When I started to get my life back on track, I wanted to help others access the treatments that had helped me”.
In 2016, Projekt42 launched its first programme – Physical Active Counselling – a 12-week programme combining personal training, cognitive behavioural therapy and life coaching. Now, two years later, they are a team of over 100 counsellors, personal trainers and yoga instructors delivering 150+ of group fitness and yoga classes, meditation, family fitness and kids yoga. In addition to the fitness and yoga, they also deliver weekly counselling sessions.
The support received from Big Issue Invest allowed the charity to buy a new specialist treadmill that, in comparison to other treadmills, reduces impact on joints by 26%. Project42 has also been able to launch indoor cycling classes that have been hugely popular with a 90-100% attendance rate.