A PERSONAL trainer has reflected on how focusing on fitness saved his life, five years on from his brother’s tragic death.

Matt Hawley’s life was turned upside down in October 2014 when his older brother Reece died from a brain tumour, aged 21.

Reece’s family went through a terrible time, as it was thought he would make a recovery from his cancer before the brain tumours were found.

Matt, now 23, who lives in Vange, struggled with the loss of his big brother mentally and physically, before finding a passion for fitness and helping people improve themselves, and started his own personal training business Transform8 in October last year.

Matt, along with co-founder Ben Vincent, has trained around 60 people in the past year, offering eight week transformations to help people adopt healthier lifestyles.

This week he took to social media to share his journey since Reece’s death.

He said: “After losing Reece I felt lost, angry, helpless, scared and in an enormous amount of pain. He was not only my brother, but my best friend and the person I always went to when I sought guidance and advice. I really did look up to him.

“Both my mental and physical health quickly deteriorated. I suffering from extreme anxiety and panic attacks. I was aged 18 and at a stage in my life where I needed to make decisions to determine the direction in which my life was going to go.

“It wasn’t until after his passing I used exercise as an escape, it truly was the only time I felt myself and intact with my emotions.

“This escape quickly developed into a passion. I found myself researching, wanting to know more about health and fitness whilst exposing myself to learnable traits to overcome barriers within life.”

Matt is now dedicating his life to help other people overcome their demons through exercise and better health through his business, based at the Kingswood Club gym in Basildon.

He added: “Reece’s attitude throughout his battle with cancer was unquestionable, his outlook, immense strength and action and inspired and continue to do so to this day. I wish he was still here, but his passing and what I’ve been through has put me on this path and got me to where I am today.” Visit facebook.com/transform8me.