Jane, from Timperley in Trafford, credits Altrincham Leisure Centre with helping her to lead a much fuller life, after a series of health diagnoses. - Trafford Leisure

Jane, from Timperley in Trafford, credits Altrincham Leisure Centre with helping her to lead a much fuller life, after a series of health diagnoses.

Jane, from Timperley in Trafford, credits Altrincham Leisure Centre with helping her to lead a much fuller life, after a series of health diagnoses.


Formally a chartered accountant, Jane had to retire after realising there was something wrong with her brain function.  Jane had a variety of symptoms; being forgetful, losing things and brain fog, which made it impossible for her to continue with her chosen career.


Jane was finally diagnosed with an obscure auto immune disease called Antiphospolipid Syndrome (APS).”  APS is a disease where the immune system produces abnormal antibodies that make the blood “stickier” than normal. This means people with APS are more likely to develop blood clots in their veins and arteries, which can cause serious or life-threatening health problems. These include: high blood pressure, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), stroke and heart attack etc.


Jane says: “It’s difficult to diagnose because people may present with an incredibly wide variety of symptoms. I went for mottled hands, kidney damage, fatigue, pins and needles on my face and what looked like dementia.

For me, it was my hands that pointed the consultant in the right direction.


“In 2015 I had a brain scan looking for dementia. Rather than dementia, the scan showed I had had several strokes. Amongst other things, my balance and coordination has been affected, although oddly enough not my speech. The amazing NHS swung into action and I was referred by my GP to do a Falls Prevention course.


In 2016, Jane starting attending Trafford Leisure’s Falls Prevention Course in Altrincham Leisure Centre, to help with her balance. 


Jane says: “My main objectives were to avoid falling over at all, but to be able to get back up if I did fall or trip. The classes not only helped with my overall mobility and balance, but also taught me safe ways to get back up from the ground, if necessary. I really enjoyed the sessions, and learning proven techniques boosted my confidence and made me feel more in control of the situation I found myself in.”


Jane also tried different classes and started using the swimming pool.  Jane says: “Walking up and down Altrincham Leisure Centre swimming pool built up my stamina and falling over in the pool was quite funny rather than catastrophic.


I also began to work with some fantastic personal trainers at the leisure centre, who provided me with a one-to-one personalised rehabilitation exercise programmes. The PTs were brilliant about explaining the exercises and keeping me focused.


“When I was ready, I moved on to Stretch & Strengthen – a Group Rehabilitation class.  The class can be done whilst seated, but it is not for wimps!  It is very effective at improving mobility and building muscles, with an interesting variety of exercises and chat. Eventually I reached my class goal of Zumba Gold, but no jumping!


“The whole way through this process, all the staff at Altrincham Leisure Centre have been unfailingly kind, helpful and supportive. They know me, and how my health issues impact me. They are brilliant about giving the help I ask for, rather than the help they might think I need. I colour code my feet and hands in order to tell RIGHT (GREEN) from LEFT (RED) with nail varnish, laces and yoga socks. There is always help available to tie my trainer laces as I find that particularly tricky. I am made to feel that asking for their help doing a supposedly simple task isn’t a chore, but an opportunity to chat about my progress.”


Jane goes on to explain: “I won’t ever make a total recovery as the ‘brain damage fairy’ is not nearly as reliable as the tooth fairy, but the staff and activities at Altrincham leisure Centre are helping to maximise my progress, give me a routine and even help me lose weight. I think that is absolutely fantastic.


The instructors play an enormous part in my progress. I enjoy introducing myself: ‘Hi, my name is Jane, I have brain damage. Is it okay if I do your class?’ So far, everyone has been confident enough in their teaching abilities and experience to say yes. They seem to take everything in their stride.


Having APS means I have good days and not so good days. On the bad days, when my brain and body don’t seem to be speaking to each other, instructors will have me in their class on the basis that, unless I am lying on the floor shouting ‘Help me, Help me’ they ignore me, and I do what I can in the class.  It is often the way that, if I keep going, I do better in a class than I thought I could at the start.”


Jane concludes: “The final element that makes all this work is the other customers at Altrincham Leisure Centre. Nothing is more likely to make me laugh than people waving when I am in a class and realise I have turned the wrong way and I’m facing the rest of the group.


The exercise is so good for my overall wellbeing. The physical activity gets my blood pumping, which stimulates my brain.  I go home after my classes for a long afternoon sleep that resets my brain.  I’ve lost weight and I’m much safer on my feet and more mobile.


“I remain fiercely independent and coming to Altrincham Leisure Centre allows me to continue to be that person.  The overwhelming message I have received from everyone at Altrincham Leisure Centre is Keep Moving. Even if it is a five-minute walk around the block. My top tip is that it is easier to exercise where there is music, people to chat to and highly qualified instructors available.”


Jo Cherrett, CEO of Trafford Leisure says: “We are so proud of Jane and her achievements.  Her testimony speaks volumes, not only of her determination and grit, but of my staff’s ability to welcome all to our leisure centres. Physical activity benefits everyone.  My team are committed to each and everyone’s individual wellness and goals.”


Jane Hynes, Public Health Programme Manager, Trafford Council says: “Being physically active benefits our health and wellbeing, and regular strength and balance exercises can also help to reduce the risk of having a fall. Jane is a perfect example of how an appropriate activity programme, delivered by skilled and experienced instructors can have a huge impact on both physical health and mental wellbeing.”

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