JUST two years ago, completing 30 bike rides in just three months would have seemed unimaginable to Anthony Cornwall who slowly turned into ‘a couch potato’ and lost all motivation to stay fit after losing his job.

But after pilling on the pounds and feeling his health suffering from inactivity, the 46-year-old took a step in the right direction and signed up to the Tri-Active Project, which encourages people to be more active by teaching them to ride a bike, swim, walk and run.

Now the store recycling operator from the town centre is ready to tackle Swindon’s Sky Rides - a series of 35 guided cycles held throughout the summer across town.

“I used to go to the gym at work but when I lost my job didn’t carry on,” said the former professional jazz dancer. “I suppose I became a bit of a couch potato – which is totally unlike me as I used to dance for a living. It shows anyone can get out of the habit and it soon shows. I probably gained a couple of stones, but have got back in shape now, and do yoga and Pilates to stay supple. I’m back to my old self again and I’ve found another job.”

The turning point came when Anthony’s brother Cavin, who lives in London, invited him on a bike ride.

“I felt really embarrassed because I didn’t feel able to join him,” he said. “I started going jogging with Swindon Shin Splints to regain my fitness and that’s when someone told me about the Tri-Active Project, which gives people the chance to learn how to cycle.

“I leapt at the opportunity and it has worked wonders,” added the father-of-one. “The project is brilliant. It’s really helping me build up my confidence on a bike. I’m a carer for my wife Melissa, who has limited mobility, and being active is a great way to relieve stress and also look after my own health. I think it even helped me find my way back into work.”

Last week saw the launch of the Sky Ride initiative, offering everyone the opportunity to take part in some 35 guided bike rides of varying distances every Sunday across the borough throughout the summer. Unsurprisingly, Anthony was one of the first to sign up.

Organised by British Cycling and Sky in partnership with the council, the rides are free and anyone can sign up online at www.goskyride.com/swindon To find out more go to www.leisureinswindon.co.uk/ tri-active or contact Ben Humphrey on 01793 465404 or email bhumphrey@ swindon.gov.uk.