I started working life in the City aged 17, heading into the murky waters a lost boy, proceeding to fuel a dark depression with drink, drugs and negative energy that hangs over the suits, flashy watches and pressure to do another deal. Now at 36 I look back and think how does anyone make it out alive? From a dude's perspective it was a minefield of peacocking, Alpha males and whoever can go hardest is the strongest.
The turning point for me came in my early 30's, I needed a way out, and quick. First up, break the habits, escape the cycles of destruction and get off that damn hamster wheel. I thought getting some routine around exercise and getting my body to work for me could be a good starting point. But first I needed to find my fitness weapon of choice. What did all the other guys do in the office? Football was the main talking point and there was never a shortage of 5-a-side games going on. Try leaving the office in lycra and you'll get destroyed on the banter stakes; leave as a pack for a game, burger and beer with shin pads in tow instead and it was celebrated. The only issue was I couldn't play, I never did well in groups of men without the false security of drink and drugs and I actually hate the game, even though I had pretended for years to love it: when it was the first thing you were asked when sat at a new desk or down the pub, you had to. I became a true expert in parroting the football chat I'd heard in the bar the day before. Just one of the survival techniques of a City chap. To this day I still pause in the barber's chair when they ask me the dreaded question..."Who do you support?!"
So, no team sports for me, lets try yoga. That lasted all of two weeks. Why? Because at the time men weren't on the mats as much as they are now, and to be frank, it still isn't nearly enough. We live sedentary lifestyles, our hips are tight, we have no mobility and getting up off the ground can be a challenge enough. Yoga will strip you away of all ego and it's hard to hide from you imbalances. No dude wants to be on the mat next to a lady huffing and puffing and then stumbling on her in a sweaty mess as you're simply asked to stand on one leg.
The gym was the place I chose to hide in for a while, because it was easy to, even though, like most, I didn't have a clue what I was doing. The long and short is that I finally found my salvation in running, in the power of moving forward under my own steam. I ran with a lot of heart and anger, it was a place for me to shed the emotional weight of the past with each step. It was also a place I felt confident as a man: I could run fast and I could brag to other blokes, I finally had something to chat about around the camp fire.
But I lacked one thing when I first started out, humility. I didn't understand how the mind and body would react to training, I got injured time after time as the ego and heart to be better took over. It's just running, why do I need to learn anything about it, I thought? To this day this is the first piece of advice I give to anyone starting out on the exploration of movement. Realise the blueprint for you is a work in progress and chasing those PB's without being kind to yourself will only bite back. Don't be afraid of showing the world that the yoga mat is a hard place to be, but with practice and resilience you will get better.
These are the lessons I try to pass on to my community, especially the young men who pass through my doors. I hope that within that they'll be able to harness the power of movement for the wellbeing of the mind, because that's the key for me and why I will never stop.
Mind over Marathon starts on 20th April on BBC One at 9pm, continuing the 27th. Mind over Marathon is part of the BBC mental health season, Minds Matter, which aims to get people talking about mental health and break down the stigma. Search using #1in4 on social media to be part of the season and visit bbc.co.uk/mindsmatter.Suggest a correction