Life Leisure is unexpected haven for Cheadle widower

A widower who never thought he’d step foot inside a gym has hailed his local leisure centre as his reason to get up in the morning.

David King, 75, from Cheadle, said his career as a joiner and passion for the outdoors always kept him fit and healthy. So, when his physiotherapist suggested he should join a gym to help heal his broken foot, he was reluctant.

Four years later, he says joining Life Leisure in Cheadle is the best thing he’s done, especially since losing his wife, boosting both his physical and emotional health.

The grandfather-of-one, of Warren Avenue, Cheadle, said: “I cannot express how much I enjoy and value my time at Life Leisure. I enjoy the fitness aspect and feeling strong and healthy again, but I also enjoy seeing people and the social side too – it’s really quite special.

“I’m not very sporty and I’ve never been interested in leisure centres, so it’s amazing to think that I’m here almost every day now – if my wife could see me now she wouldn’t believe it!”

David, whose wife Diane passed away from lung cancer six years ago, added that it’s unexpectedly filled part of the hole she has left.

He said: “I’m not a particularly sociable guy – when I was a kid I was always the shy one in the corner and the last to be picked for the sports team. But at Life Leisure you feel part of the family.

“It’s also nice to be around people whose lives wouldn’t normally cross. There are a lot of young mums who I really get along with and have a good laugh with – it sounds odd, but my wife was a very strong character and was just like them, so it really fills a hole being around women who have similar attitudes and outlook on life.”

David’s favourite thing to do at the gym is the R1G classes, which are strengthening and exercise sessions that take place on the gym floor with other members.

He said: “I wasn’t keen on going to the gym because I didn’t think it was my kind of place. I had visions of all these machines and robots – but I couldn’t have been more wrong! 

“As soon as I walked in, I was pleasantly surprised. The thing that immediately struck me was that there were people my age there, they weren’t sweating and pumping iron as they say, but chatting and laughing together while they did their exercises. It just felt right straight away.

“I have to admit it took me about four or five months to get up the courage to do a class, but I’m so glad I did, they are my favourite part now.”

David added: “I would urge anyone who needs a bit of a boost – either physically or mentally – to give it a go. You must take the first step, but once you do, you won’t regret it.

“I dread to think what my life would be like if I didn’t come here – I’d probably still be in bed!”

Adam Johnson, a Life Leisure fitness instructor who leads some of David’s classes, said: “Dave is a fantastic example of what being a member of Life Leisure is all about.

“Not only does he come along and get something out of it physically and mentally, but he also has a fantastic attitude and zest for life which brings out the best in those around him.

“Life Leisure isn’t just about coming to the gym for exercise, it’s about meeting other people, sharing experiences, and supporting one another.”

He added: “We know Dave wasn’t keen at first – like many people he didn’t think a gym environment was for him, so we are thrilled he gave it a go and hasn’t looked back!

“We’d urge anyone who wants to get active, meet new people or is looking for a bit of a routine and community to come and give us a try. It’s an inclusive environment where all are welcome.”

For more information about Life Leisure, which has eight hubs across Stockport, go to https://www.lifeleisure.net/.

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