Fiona Ledgard (centre). Photo by Sarah Cleave. Permission for use from Fiona Ledgard.

Help is at hand for Salfordians suffering from seasonal affective disorder (Sad).

The Sad Bootcamp on Wednesday November 3, is a wellbeing and fitness session at Partisan Collective, Unit 2, New Islington Mill Regent Trading Estate.

The 90-minute event, organised by Girl Gang Mcr, has been hosted three times virtually, but can finally be delivered in person for the first time, led by Fiona Ledgard.

Fiona hosting at Pride is A Protest Sober Event at Partisan Collective in August.

Fiona said: “So many people experience seasonal affective disorder when the days get colder and darker. I wanted to deliver a session that combines wellbeing and fitness, where we explore simple things people can do, so that they feel more able to cope if they have less energy or feel low.”

“I love creating fun sessions where people can learn new things and leave feeling inspired. As a personal trainer, it’s part of my job to motivate people to make small changes to their routine to enhance their lives.



“Sad Bootcamp is also a safe space for people to open up about anything that might be getting them down, if they feel like it. Having completed the mental health first aid qualification, I know that talking can really make a difference.

“In these sessions we explore different life hacks that can increase our energy levels and boost our mood.

“With ongoing cuts to mental health services, and ongoing uncertainty and isolation during the pandemic, it is more important than ever for people to feel connected to others and empowered to look after their wellbeing.

“We always end the session with group exercise so that people leave on a high. In the upcoming session, we’ve got a dance workout with uplifting hits from the ’70s to the ’90s.”

SAD Bootcamp
SAD Bootcamp. Photo by Fiona Ledgard. Permission for use from Fiona Ledgard.

Fiona, who is located in Manchester, said: “I’ve delivered three Sad Bootcamps with Girl Gang Manchester and it is a dream come true to be working with them. They’re an excellent collective, promoting creativity and collaboration, making so many cool things happen: workshops, parties and skill sharing sessions, for people of all genders.

“It’s also exciting to be delivering the first face-to-face Sad Bootcamp at Partisan Collective in Salford. Partisan is a fantastic community space for independent, DIY and cultural projects. Again, excellent organisations in Salford and Manchester facilitating fantastic things for people to get involved with.”

The participants of the previous boot camps were very happy with the sessions. Fiona said: “I delivered the first three sessions virtually during lockdowns, and people said that they experienced a much-needed sense of community.

“I’ve received messages from participants saying that they felt amazing and that they were still buzzing the following day.”

For the session in November, participants can expect a friendly atmosphere, sitting in a circle and sharing how they are doing, a writing activity and an energising, beginner friendly dance workout.

Fiona said: “The writing activity will be inspired by the way we see trees let go of their leaves at this time of year. I’ll encourage people to think about something that they’d like to let go of, and write it down. No one will be expected to share their words, but if anyone wants to, they can.

“We will then rip up our words and burn them in a chiminea outside. I am so excited for this activity.

“The coming together of people through ritual has been part of human civilisation for thousands of years, and I think that this ritualistic release could be cathartic for everyone involved.

“It is wonderful to see people sharing their ideas, opening up, and having a laugh together too.”

SAD Bootcamp
Fiona Ledgard. Photo by Harri Shanahan. Permission for use from Fiona Ledgard.

Fiona enjoys being a personal trainer because she can help make a difference, she said:

“After completing my ‘Media, Culture and Society’ degree, I knew that I wanted to do something that helps people feel good in the here and now.

“I enrolled on the ‘Instructing Exercise and Fitness’ course at The Manchester College in 2015, which is the foundation for the ‘Personal Trainer’ qualification and the rest is history!

“Working with people energises me. It is the best feeling when your clients tell you they’re feeling more confident in themselves, or that they’re no longer in pain, or that they’re feeling powerful because of training with you.”

Fiona believes that there is a definite link between fitness and mental health and believes that exercise can inspire a positive attitude.

SAD Bootcamp
Fiona Ledgard. Photo by Nigel Maitland. Permission for use from Fiona Ledgard.

Fiona said: “As we have seen during the pandemic, more and more people have become physically active to support better mental health, and to help with the sense of impending doom!

“Regular exercise can help people relieve stress and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Fitness sessions can boost your mood, enhance your immune system, help you sleep better, bring a sense of routine and structure to your life, boost confidence and change the way you see yourself, and your situation.

“Exercise can inspire an ‘I can’ attitude regarding trying new things, rather than ‘what if’ or ‘I can’t’.

“I find that regular exercise helps with my sense of discipline and motivation to make things happen. A big one for me with exercise is the way you feel more connected to your body, and when you notice your muscles are getting stronger it is so good for the soul.”

Sad Bootcamp is open to everyone (18+), 6.30pm-8pm on Wednesday November 3  at Partisan Collective, Unit 2, New Islington Trading Estate, Oldfield Road, Salford, M5 4DE


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