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When former catering worker Lucy Nield lost her husband to cancer six years ago, she became so depressed that she couldn’t leave the house. She had put on over four stone while caring for him and wanted to lock herself away. Now, a self-confessed gym addict, she has transformed her physical and mental health thanks to regular sessions with Life Leisure.
Lucy, 69, who has diabetes and arthritis, pays tribute to her son Matthew who was her ‘lifeline’ and encouraged her to go to the gym. Lucy finally took the plunge three years ago when her diabetes specialist nurse told her about the Physical Activity Referral in Stockport (PARIS) scheme, delivered by Life Leisure at the nearby Avondale centre. Since then, Lucy’s life has taken on new meaning with the help of Life Leisure’s Paul ‘Rocky’ Lindley, an expert physical activity coach for people with chronic health conditions.
Paul said, “Lucy first attended a one to one consultation with me at Life Leisure Avondale in November 2015. It was evident to me that she was emotionally low, struggling with life in general and it was all beginning to take its toll. I took the initial step of meeting up once a week with her at my gym session – this gave her a routine and got her in to a ‘good habit’ of attending. She started to progress, slowly at first, small goals to aspire towards. In fact, Lucy adhered to everything that I asked of her – she was an exceptional example to others, not just at first, but even now.
She’s now an Ambassador for PARiS and a real asset, whether in my gym sessions or assisting a new starter in to the Aqua Aerobics session. What a transformation, and again, another fine exemplar of how activity/exercise intervention can change a person’s life as well as reducing the strain on NHS resources.”
“I’d been with my husband since I was a teenager,” explains Lucy. “When he died all my feelings went. I was at my lowest point, physically and mentally. Then I heard about the PARiS scheme. I’ve never looked back.”
Lucy started out gently with a few repetitions on the weight machines, but with Rocky’s encouragement she graduated to the spinning and rowing machines. Now she does a combination of Pilates, core training, weights and aqua aerobics, visiting Avondale several times a week. “After three months, I was addicted. Now the gym comes before everything. I love it!”
The boost to Lucy’s mental and physical health meant she shed her extra weight, ate more healthily and gained the confidence to kick-start her social life, making new friends and going on regular holiday tours. Recently, she took her first solo trip abroad – to the French Riviera – and loved every minute of it. “I’ve never had fun like this in my life before.”
“The PARiS scheme has not only lifted me mentally, it has also transformed my body,” says Lucy. “My metabolic age is 53, and I feel like I have a better figure than I did when I was 18. Before, the arthritis in my spine, knees and feet meant I struggled to get out of the bath or reach things on the bottom shelf. The exercise has made me much more flexible and strengthened all my bones.”
Lucy’s diabetes has also improved, and all the signs are her medication will be reduced next time she visits the doctor.
She says: “The last three years have been incredible, and the Life Leisure staff have been marvellous. When I go away on holiday, I go to the gym, but not one of them is as friendly as Life Leisure. Rocky is sometimes busy, but he always takes time to stop and talk if I need anything.”
What would Lucy say to others thinking of trying the PARiS scheme?
“I’d say, try it! A friend came up to me at the gym the other day, and I said, ‘I didn’t know you came here.’ She said, ‘it’s my second time, I had a heart attack.’ I said ‘Don’t give up, give it a try. Keep coming.’
“I’ve never regretted it. It has shown me that nothing in life is impossible.”
Watch Lucy's testimonial video on our YouTube channel.Back to News