Under lockdown, it can be very hard to get out and do the exercise we’re all meant to do. Spending our days at work in our homes, it doesn’t quite feel the same when we finish work, relocate to another part of the house or room, and try to relax for the evening. Even the daily walks have, by this point, started to become a little repetitive as we near a year since the first lockdown.

As a journalist, I do spend some time out of the house as part of my job. But it’s not really exercise. While I’ve tried to keep up my fitness during lockdown, these dark, cold evenings are not the most conducive to getting out and doing a bit of exercise. So when I was contacted by Anne Evans, landlady of the Foresters Arms, about their fundraising through fitness, I leapt at the chance to give it a go.

Anne, along with a group of friends including Natalie Bale, Julie Duke, Mel Evans, Sharon O'Neill, Michelle Broadbent and Nicola Lucker, set out at the start of the month to raise over £1000 by doing 100 squats every day throughout February. Though there are a few rest days, these have to be made up for by doing extra on other days of the week.

The group have decided to fundraise for the Teenage Cancer Trust, which they said is a cause ‘dear to their hearts’.

“We all met at the Foresters Arms,” Natalie says, “and we do quite a bit of charity, but Covid has restricted this. We normally do the race for life, but due to Covid, this challenge is our first charity even this year.”

Since February 1, they’ve all been doing 100 squats each day, while is a bigger challenge than it first appears.

“You don’t think squats take it out of you as much,” Natalie laughs, “but they do! We’re getting fitter, and our bums are getting bigger!”

They’ve already hit a number of milestones, which they make sure to celebrate in style. For their 1000 squats, the group “dressed up a little bit silly” in rugby shirts to do their exercise, complete with a glass of gin in hand! When I joined them, they were on the eve of their second celebration, which was going to be an 80s-themed squatting session, with another drink to mark the occasion – cocktails were suggested.

I joined them the night before this 80s extravaganza, meeting up with the rest of the team over Zoom to chat to them about their fundraising target, and what it meant to them.

“We wanted to get our backsides off our chairs,” Natalie explained. “Getting fit was one of the main things, and supporting a cancer charity as well as it’s dear to our hearts. We’ve all got those close to us, friends and relatives, who have suffered.”

With the questions out of the way, it was time to get down to business. With Cyndi Lauper’s hit ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ playing, it was time to start squatting.

I was warned before beginning that 100 squats is a lot to do without practice. I haven’t done squats since school, but I assumed it would all come back to me. How wrong I was. For the first 20 or so, I was lulled into a false sense of security, but by around the 30 mark, it was beginning to take its toll. While the ladies of the group carried on at their steady pace, I began to flounder as my lack of practice began to take its toll.

100 didn’t seem that big a number before, but at halfway, and already out of breath, I realised just how much more I had to do. I battled onwards, continuing to get hotter and more exhausted as I continued. As the group came to the end of their squats, I still had about 20 to go, but was determined to get there. While they settled down, I pushed past 90, eked up to 95, and finally reached 100. As I stopped, I nearly fell over backwards; my legs feeling like jelly.

As we all started chatting again, it had been proved to me just how much work these ladies are doing to raise money for a cause close to their hearts. I only did it once, but at the time of writing, I can still feel the aches and pains from just one night. I can’t imagine doing it for a whole 28, so they more than deserve the over £800 they have raised so far, with the group having raised £652 to date, and friends doing their own challenge pushing that total up another £200. They’re looking for £1280, and have until mid-March before the fundraiser closes.

They’re also keen for anyone else to join in, whether that’s to raise funds or just get fit. I realise I probably haven’t sold it too well, but if you’re fitter than me, it’s well worth giving it a go!

If you’d like to help push their total higher, please click here to visit their Facebook page to donate.