A gym bunny who lost her mojo in lockdown splashed out £300 on her own “personal Mrs Motivator” to help her face her fear of returning to normal life, after her confidence was battered by a serious bout of Covid.
Communications manager Eimear Collins, 30, of Putney, south west London, felt anxious about everything from socialising to commuting after so long working from home, then testing positive for the coronavirus in January and going on to develop long Covid.
Determined to find a solution, Eimear, who is single, posted a request on an outsourcing website offering £300 for the right help – which introduced her to graduate Erin Parkes, 24, of Litchfield, Staffordshire, who she befriended and hired to inspire her to change.
She said: “It was late March and I called my request, ‘Looking for my Mr/Mrs Motivator.’
Eimear celebrated her 30th birthday in lockdown. PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT
“I wrote, ‘I am looking for someone to help me shake my lockdown blues and get my mojo back. Please be my daily motivator. Ideally, I want someone to help me for at least a week – to check in before meals and to be someone I can call when that cake has my name on it. No experience is required, but I’m looking for a real go-getter and someone with good banter.’
“Then I signed off, saying, ‘Think you’re up for the challenge? Convince me why I should select you as my motivation buddy!’”
Bowled over by the response, after more than 20 people wrote back offering to help out, a post from Erin – then a student, but now working in artificial intelligence – stood out, so they connected.
Both women had at different times lacked energy and willpower, but Erin had turned things around and was offering the positive motivation Eimear needed.
Eimear lost her mojo in lockdown. PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT
Originally from Tipperary, Ireland, Eimear – who came to London for work in 2013 and had moved into her Putney flat with two housemates in March 2020 – said: “The first lockdown last year wasn’t so bad, as it was a great summer, we have a roof terrace and everything was new and novel.”
She continued: “Having spent a full year together, I’ve ended up being really close friends with my housemates, too!”
But by the time of the second lockdown in November 2020, the situation was bleaker.
Faced with a winter without socialising, seeing friends or family and with outdoor exercise becoming less inviting in the cold, her mood slipped.
“The second lockdown was much harder and it went into Christmas, so I wasn’t able to get home,” Eimear said.
“All the pubs were closed and you couldn’t meet friends outside as there was always a chance of getting drenched.”
With her motivation waning, Eimear settled into a routine of binging on boxsets and comfort food – struggling to get off the sofa.
Then, in late December, she realised something was very wrong.
Eimear pictured after lockdown ended. PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT
“It was the week after Christmas, leading up to New Year,” she said. “I took the test in January as I wasn’t feeling well, and friends had had symptoms like mine, which seemed like a severe head cold, but turned out to be Covid.
“Then I had long Covid symptoms and found it really hard to exercise. Even walking up the stairs for two months afterwards was difficult.”
Her slump worsening, even turning 30 at the end of January, which she celebrated with a lockdown party with her housemates, did not break her downwards spiral.
She said: “During the third lockdown, it was really hard trying to keep up my motivation.
“The gyms were closed and, working from home, I’d realise I hadn’t left the house in days.”
She added: “So, in February, when I posted on the Airtasker website, it was a desperate, ‘someone help me’ thing!”
Erin lives in Litchfield, Birmingham. PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT
Previously employing a personal trainer, Eimear knew that finding someone to help jump-start her mojo would be a sure-fire solution.
Looking online for various task websites, she discovered the site where she went on to find Erin.
She said: “I stumbled across Airtasker, which had a lot more laidback people on it than most sites.
“There were a lot of different types of people posting and responding – personal trainers, students and just normal people.
“I decided to go for it and posted to see what response I could get back.”
Erin works at a technical consulting firm. PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT
And when she read Erin’s response, she was instantly impressed.
She said: “It stood out the most to me because I could relate to her so much.
“She came across so positively and, as she was a student, I realised she’d be free and not tied down to a work schedule.”
Erin had written about her own similar lull a year earlier after a long-term relationship ended, adding that she had “wanted to shake things up” and get her “mojo back” too.
Eimear said: “She said she wanted to be my ‘cheerleader,’ to be there for me 24/7 and set goals and talk daily about my motivation.
Eimear pictured with friends. PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT
“Her exact words were, ‘I would really love to pass on the motivation baton with the methods that helped me. It helped me gain so much confidence.”
She added: “Perhaps we could continue past a week and keep motivating each other!’”
In all, Erin spent two weeks at the end of April helping Eimear – with daily phone calls, checking in on her and sharing healthy recipes.
Her grateful ‘student’ said: “We spoke every day, which really shook things up for me and got me ready to get back out there.”
Erin Parkes was hired as a ‘Mrs Motivator’. PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT
Eimear continued: “I would tell Erin what I was planning to eat that day and she would ring to check I was exercising when I said I would be!
“We’re still in contact now, so she’ll call and check in on me. We did a few virtual workouts together as well.
“It was definitely worth it and I would probably do it again if I felt myself back in that situation.”
She added: “Going back into the office and seeing people again is scary, and you worry you look like you’ve put weight on.
“Thanks to Erin, I know my summer clothes still fit me!”
Eimear sending Erin proof of her going on a run. PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT
Determined to publicly thank her, Eimear also posted on the Airtasker site.
She wrote: “Thank you so much, Erin!
“You really went above and beyond to help me, and I will be sure to stay in touch. Eimear x”
Erin, who will graduate from Birmingham’s Aston University with a degree in business, computing and IT in September, joined the site to help fund her studies.
Eimear with a friend. PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT
She said: “I could really relate to Eimear’s post as I’d been at a very similar low point too.
“I moved away from home in Walsall, West Midlands, for a uni placement, had ended a long-term relationship and piled on the pounds – I’d needed help myself.
“I had been where Eimear was and could completely relate to her. I knew I could share my experiences with her.”
She added: “She just needed that person in the background, a friend there to keep her motivated and on track – and doing that helped me motivate myself as well too.”
Eimear Collins hired a ‘Mrs Motivator’ via AirTasker. PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT
Airtasker is a trusted community marketplace that connects people who need work done with people who want to work. To sign up for Airtasker and start posting tasks or to find innovative ways of making money by completing tasks, visit https://www.airtasker.com/uk/