Scaling rock faces in the Alps is what keeps Neil Willatt fit - and focused

2nd July 2004 at 01:00
How do you keep fit?

Circuit training at a gym during the week; rock climbing at weekends and during the holidays.

What got you started?

I joined my school rock climbing club in 1968 and I've been climbing since.

Before becoming a teacher I was in the forces, so fitness has always been part of my life. I don't think I could stop exercising.

Why rock climbing and circuit training?

I enjoy the concentration involved in rock climbing. You have to focus completely on what you're doing, which means you lose track of everything else. You also have to be in good shape, which is where the circuit training comes in.

How do you make time?

I don't have a family, which probably helps; it means exercise can be part of my daily routine before or after school. I also like to go on rock climbing holidays, so I head off to the Alps once or twice a year.

Have you felt the benefits?

Exercise makes you feel good about yourself. You get less tired and feel more energetic. I'm not as fit as I used to be, but when you get to 50 you have to accept that.

Any downsides?

No. Exercise never seems like a chore to me; it's always a pleasure. Doing something really hard, pushing yourself to the limit - to me, that's the most satisfying kind of exercise. But the things I do now are nowhere near as tough as the workouts we did in the forces.

How active are your colleagues?

There are some very fit people on the staff: runners and swimmers. There's a pool at school so quite a few teachers have a swim first thing in the morning.

Healthy hint?

If you've decided to start exercising, stick it out. You'll go through some bad patches before it starts to feel good. But it will feel good.

Neil Willatt, 50, is a physics teacher at Leeds grammar school. For tips on personal fitness go to: www.tes.co.ukgetactive

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