Our gym continues to improve peoples lives & Alison has a great story to tell!
Following on from Dawn's story last month, which touched on the importance of exercise in tackling mental health issues, another gym member Alison has offered her insight into why she joined Clarence Park Health Suite back in November 2018.
Alison has a great story to tell, so I asked her to document her story.
Firstly, let me say that I have never been an '8 stone something' and have never been a keep fit fanatic, even though I did go to a gym for a few months following the birth of my sons. Until now, I have always preferred to get my exercise by walking the family dog, as I love walking in the countryside.
Following my Father's death in 2012, I had a challenging job as a Payroll Manager, a Husband who worked away and two teenage sons. I began to notice various symptoms of anxiety, difficulty sleeping, mood swings, hot flushes and a general feeling of lethargy. I got into a rut of coming home, preparing tea and then just sitting on the sofa all evening with tears running down my face and not knowing why.
A symptom of my Father's cancer had been his inability to control his temperature and with my failing memory I was convinced I had the same. It wasn't until a colleague brought in a book on the menopause and showed me a list of the symptoms, of which I had every one, that I burst into tears with relief. With everything mounting up, something had to give so I resigned from my job and had six months at home with a short course of medication to help my mood.
In the subsequent four years, during which time I had put on over 3 stone, I realised that I needed to tackle my weight gain. With all the TV programmes highlighting the issues of Obesity and its connection to Diabetes, I felt it was time for something to be done. I had become very lethargic and realised I that I could no longer walk up the stairs without feeling out of breath.
Quite by chance, a friend recommended Clarence Park Health Suite as she said it was small, but had all the equipment I would ever need and it was non-intimidating. In her words; 'it was not full of a bevy of beauties or testosterone hunks strutting their stuff'. That's not to say it doesn't cater for a wide range of ages and members of all abilities, but I like it so much. My husband came with me when I went to meet Matt and have a look around. We were both so impressed that we signed up there and then for a whole years membership. I felt that I may give up without some strict motivation so I decided that a couple of weekly PT sessions was what I needed to keep me focused.
I won't deny those that those first few sessions were murder! We agreed a set of achievable targets and Matt started me off with short sessions on the Rower, Bike and Cross Trainer, finishing off with what now seems some very easy weight exercises. I had noted on my questionnaire that I wanted to build up my upper body strength as I was getting a lot of back ache from sitting at a desk all day long. I set myself a challenge to be able to run the Saturday Parkrun with my Husband.
In January 2019 I had to stop the Rower as I had tennis elbow and was recommend to stop heavy arm exercises for a few months. Matt saw this as an 'excellent opportunity' to get the running underway. I have to say that I dreaded the Treadmill and have never been a runner. I found it so hard to begin with! I would come out of each session looking like was about to collapse. I didn't feel like I was getting anywhere but Matt would keep setting mini goals to target each week. In fact, he would record how long it would take me to complete 1 mile:
I started not being able to run for much more than 10 seconds, but I'm now running at a steady pace for the whole mile, taking me around 12 and a half minutes. This is the great thing about PT sessions; You keep going! Matt is booked and waiting for you. He pushes you just that little bit further, just when you feel like you can't go any more!
Personally for me, I would have used any excuse not to go to the gym as I find motivation difficult. Slowly as the weeks have gone on, my fitness levels have steadily improved - much to Matt and my own amazement. When I started running in February I could barely run for 10 seconds, now 4 months later I can run for 12 and a half minutes non-stop. The challenge now is to start to increase the distances!
When I started, I thought that if I exercised the weight would drop off me. However, it seems I have used exercise to continue eating what I like whilst maintaining my weight. Now comes the difficult part, to diet and lose the weight I need to lose and hopefully my exercising will become easier and will motivate me even more!
Although the challenges of the Menopause seem to be subsiding, I wish I had stepped up the exercise at the beginning. It doesn't feel like it at the time, and it is difficult to measure from week to week, but when I think back to last November it is not only a physical difference I notice but a more positive mental state of mind that the gym has brought me. Looking forward now, it seems that the Saturday Parkrun is no longer just a pipe dream but something that I am getting closer and closer to realising every week.
If you would like to start your journey, or would like more advice about how Clarence Park Health Suite can help you, please get in touch! You can speak to us on (01684) 583002 or by emailing me directly at Matt@ClarenceParkHealthSuite.co.uk.