Updated: Aug 20, 2018
This is Liam, or as many know him "Snoosh".
I had know of Liam since I was a teenager in school, he was a year or so above me and I have a distant memory of a dreadlocked kid that everyone seemed to know, and all the so called "cool kids" wanted to be friends with.
I met Liam in person a few months ago when I finally decided to do something about the mumtum that I had aquired from having two babies. In the last two years, both had been pulled out of the baby making sunroof that used to be my nice flat, normal stomach.
I've never been keen on gyms, or working out for that matter. But there was something about this back street gym that looked like a shipping container from the outside and an iron pumping skull lovers wet dream on the inside that really made me feel at home. Halfway through the first hour session I found myself enjoying exercise for literally, the first time in my life.
Liam has lived his whole life in MK, and like many others, can see the good aspects of our city, but unfortunately due to past experiences, he can also see the down sides.
Eight years ago, he and a few others worked for a company called "Make a Difference", this was a community interest company thats one and only aim was to create youth activies and improve the youth culture of our city.
They managed to aquire the old bus station building opposite the main train station and spent the best part of a million pounds renovating it.
This was before the council decided that it wasn't making them enough money and took it back for themselves.
The once vibrant youth hub had a cafe, a vintage shop, ran skate schools, grafitti projects, fetivals and even weddings. It then sat unused and empty for two years after the council took it back, and while they were waiting for better investors, the youth culture of MK was dwindling, and emigrating to other, more accomodating cities.
I'm not surprised that this had left a somewhat bitter taste in Liam's mouth for the coorporate side of MK. Liam spoke about how he feels the city is run by too many older people who have an idea of what Milton Keynes should be, and are not actually seeing it for what it is.
An example being that MK has applied to be the "City of Culture" how ever many years on the trot and never won. Whilst they are promoting the concrete cows and the many, many roundabouts that we have, they are ignoring the actual culture of Milton Keynes; the youth culture, the skating culture, the culture that is disappearing quicker than you can slap a "closing" sign on it.
Snoosh Performance gym has been open coming up on two years, Liam gets up most mornings at around 5am to drive to the gym to open up for his 6am workout class. He runs group classes at 6am, 10am and 6:30pm. These classes are only a fiver to come along to, and to my surprise when I first started going are 99.9% attended by all women, and kids and babies are welcomed (not that I tell my partner that)!
The women that go to the classes are also one of the reasons why I religously go twice a week, every week. The women are normal, down to earth, relaxed and unpretensious. The age range in each class can be anything from as young as 16 to some super sexy 50 plus'.
There isn't a push up bra or full face of make up in sight, they all work together, spur eachother on and laugh at the sweat marks they leave with.
Liam previously worked for a local secondary school, before opening his own gym and now that school sends kids to his gym five times a week as part of their curriculum, to work with Liam and try to change their own path in life.
These kids are all kids that have been kicked out of other schools, generally have behavioural issues and need an outlet for as Liam rightly put it “negative energy”.
He works on their obesity issues, anger issues, and gives them a focus and a goal in life.
The youths come to Liams, and release the anger and tension that has been building on a punching bag, rather than a wall, or someone else.
They have a relatable, non judgmental adult to talk to, and something to actually look forward to going to school for. It helps to build the kids confidence and gives them the self esteem boost that they need to become better individuals.
Over the past few years, along with running some personal training session at Atlas gym in Wolverton, Liam has also been running specially designed fitness classes for some of the disabled children of MK. He talked about how some of the classes were with kids who had Autism and Down's Syndrome, and how this helped him to think differently about how he trained them, explained things to them, and how it has helped to make himself a better coach to all of his clientele.
Of all the ways that Snoosh’s gym is great for, and of all the things that Liam does to earn a living, from the group classes, to personal trainer sessions, his work with kids and schools is what I really enjoyed talking to him about.
You could see the rewarding feeling he gets from this work, and although I know that sounds cliché, I can see how it would be.
Sometimes being the kid at school that didn’t get the best grades and didn’t go to Uni isn’t such a bad thing. From what Liam told me about what he has done with his life since the days of dreadlocks and detentions, he has benefitted a lot of people, and focussed on what really does need to be focussed on in this great city of ours, the youth.
The future of Milton Keynes is based solely on the people that are going to carry this city on for the years to come. It's not about the older generation anymore. We can thank them for building this great city of ours, but really we need to be focussing our attention on the youth, the children, and the teenagers of MK.
These are the people who are going to shape and mould our city, they are the ones that decide what path it takes as we head into the next fifty years of Milton Keynes’ existence, and luckily there are still people like Liam around who can see this.
Thanks for reading
Steph - notsuchasoullesscity