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brian celebrates 1000th gym visit since heart attack

30/04/2018

Retired maths teacher Brian Povey has always had a passion for numbers, but one particular figure now means more to him than most. Just 8 years on from a heart attack, the 70-year-old is celebrating his 1000thsession at his local gym.

In 2009, Disley resident Brian suffered a heart attack that put his life on hold. Finding a passion for physical exercise was not an outcome Brian had expected. Yet the retiree is now a familiar face at Life Leisure Romiley, where he can be found working out at least three times a week.

Brian said: “Following my heart attack I started attending regular cardiac rehab sessions at Stepping Hill. I have to say, that was a very important step for me. For 8 weeks the team there encouraged me to use gym equipment and walk a little more every day. It built up my strength and my confidence. So when they suggested I take part in the Physical Activity Referral Scheme in Stockport (PARiS) I took up the challenge.”

The PARiS scheme, a partnership between Life Leisure and Public Health in Stockport, provides specialist advice, activity sessions and support for people who have a medical condition and who need to be more physically active to better manage their health.

Brian continued: “I remember sitting down with my instructor Michelle Childs, and we worked out my regime which looked at cardiovascular exercises, stretching and weight work initially. Just a little of each to start with. I had a grid to keep track of everything I was doing, and also wore a heart rate monitor so that I could keep an eye on my exercise level.

“My wife Elizabeth was incredibly supportive and in fact came to some sessions with me – although I think partly to check her husband wasn’t getting too carried away!”

Brian took to his PARiS sessions so well that he decided to carry on his gym activity and join as a member. Regularly checking in with one of his other instructors, PARiS Officer Dave McGlinchy, Brian now does three, 90 minute sessions every week, consisting of time on the treadmill, bikes and rowers, as well as leg extensions, bicep curls, shoulder presses and wall push-ups, still wearing his heart rate monitor and with continuing support from his wife.

Even when not at the gym, Brian makes sure he gets out and about on walks, and can often be found taking in the sights at Lyme Park to help keep up his impressive activity levels.

“Since the very first day I started, I’ve kept a detailed exercise diary,” said Brian. “As well as being useful for showing my GP and cardiologist what I’ve been up to,  it is a really good motivator as I can chart the progress I’ve made.

“In 2014 I had to have another operation on my heart due to a problem with a stent in place, but I’d made such good progress by this stage that when they did my cardiovascular fitness test it showed how far I’d come. My doctors were impressed.”

Brian’s experience has made him keen to encourage others to follow in this footsteps, and not to dismiss the idea of going to the gym before at least giving it a go.

The fitness-fan said: “When you have a significant health scare, it does make you look at things differently.

“While I was never a full-blown exercise-phobe, I was always very sceptical of gyms and thought they were really only for people who were already pretty fit. In fact, I used to say I’d never be seen dead in a gym. Now, thanks to the help I’ve had at Life Leisure, I’m very happy to be seen alive in one!”

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