Spreading the rewards of fitness
1 Aug 2022
Ingeus’s Nick Sprague is more than the average fitness instructor. Yes, exercise-related knowledge rolls off his tongue with ease; but it’s his passion to help others feel the benefits of exercise that sets him apart from fellow instructors.
As Ingeus’s first in-house fitness instructor, Nick is on a mission to spread the mental and physical health benefits of exercise to service users within the CRS personal wellbeing service. The service is just one part of Ingeus’s Commissioned Rehabilitative Services (CRS) which help ex-offenders.
Nick, a qualified personal trainer and group instructor, joined CRS’s personal wellbeing service in June 2021, and came up with the idea of a fitness scheme for service users soon afterwards. Initially held back by the pandemic, the scheme is now taking off after gaining funding and interest from service users.
He says, “I tend to see service users who have had some form of substance problem and let fitness fall by the wayside. It’s all done on a one-to-one basis so I can really tailor the session to them.
“If the person does have a background of substance abuse, then I explain to them how exercise can create the same effect as drugs by releasing endorphins. Through exercise you’re able to manipulate your brain chemistry to get the same high. It’s great when they realise this actually works.”
Nick holds all sessions face-to-face and in a public place, preferring to use a park or a gym if the service user is already a member. Sessions are held weekly or monthly and last between 60-90 minutes and, as with all CRS services, service users are given targets to achieve by the end of their time with Nick.
“They can see the progress they’re making, physically and mentally,” he explains. “The scheme encourages them to get the wins when maybe things aren’t progressing in the rest of their lives. This gives them a purpose. A lot of people come away saying they feel a sense of relief and contentment, and are less likely to go back to drugs.”
Having spent two years previously working on physical interventions with service users in prisons, Nick considers his background to be a strength in relating to those using the scheme.
“It works so well having an in-house provider rather than outsourcing the scheme,” he says. “My experience within the justice division makes building that rapport much easier.”
As the scheme establishes itself, Nick is hopeful that it will be extended to other regions within CRS.
He explains, “Gym culture is big in prisons and training is such a good coping mechanism. It’s all part of a bigger picture for mental and emotional wellbeing.”
Find out more about Ingeus CRS