It’s the best thing I’ve ever done!
Jane, 38, from Stretford has had to battle with poor health for almost two decades. Normal everyday life and activities have become a real struggle since her original diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis when she was aged only 20.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an incurable and lifelong condition which affects the brain/and or spinal cord, causing a wide range of potential symptoms including problems with vision, arm or leg movements, sensation and balance.
The condition has robbed Jane or her independence, ability to work and her sight; losing vision in one eye in 2008 and then both eyes in 2010. The heavy medication she was taking has made her feel ill, caused her to put on four stone and has made her feel emotionally low at times. The condition physically and emotionally drains her and causes much fatigue and muscle pain.
In all other waysJaneis a chatty everyday wife and mum to two 11 and 14 year old children. Jane’s commitment and love of her family pushed her to pursue an Activity Referral Scheme at Trafford Leisure’s Stretford Centre. She says: “I had to try to build my strength and movement up. I was at a point in my life where I could sink or swim, in many ways I was already drowning. I needed to do something for me, separate from the illness, that would improve my quality of life. I wanted to be able to go on a simple family walk. Just the small things. But before my Activity Referral this seemed impossible. I thought I would never step foot back into a gym.”
With the support of her female care workers, Janes takes her children to their swimming lessons at Urmston Leisure Centre. It was the swimming staff that gave her the Active Living Manager, James Jackson’s name and details. James contacted Jane and showed her around Stretford Leisure Centre, talking her through the Activity Referral programme. James says: “Jane has very specific health needs, and we discussed at great length the various classes and gym exercises she should try. As with all our customers, we see them very much as an individual and tailor their exercise schedule accordingly. For Jane, success not only meant being able to lift her arms straight or having better controlled movement, but also being more confident and happy in herself. We welcomed Jane onto the programme in March of 2018, and, although it took her 12 weeks to complete rather than the usual eight (due to medical treatment during this time), she has graduated on to full membership. Jane now comes to the gym with the support of her care team three times a week and I couldn’t be prouder.”
Jane not only uses the exercise machines, praising Stretford’s special ‘quiet area’ in the gym, but also loves the Tuesday morning Simple Circuit Class. This is a special class targeted at those with physical and mental disabilities, health conditions, those recovering from surgery and the over 65’s. Jane says: “I absolutely love my Tuesday mornings. I was worried that I would be labelled ‘disabled’ and was conscious of what other people might think. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The classes, which are run by James, are an absolute hoot. There are some lovely people in the class and they have all been so welcoming. James cares and supports each and every member of the class, encouraging us on our own fitness journey. He’s our taskmaster but also our biggest cheerleader. We are more than just a set of individuals, we are very much a group, a community, and I feel so empowered through this experience.”
Since Jane has been coming to the gym, she has lost three stone in weight, her treatment has stabilised and she feels energised and more flexible. She is sleeping much better and, perhaps more importantly, feels more confident. Her family life has improved and emotionally she is feeling much more positive. She is planning to try a Pilates and aqua aerobics class next.
Jane concludes: “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I can honestly say that joining Stretford Leisure Centre has been life changing for me. It has turned my world around. People shouldn’t be scared of coming to the gym, the support given by staff has been outstanding. I feel like I’ve got ‘me’ back.”