Aug 22, 2019
After working at our Coulby Newham club, Matt joined the Bannatyne Ingleby Barwick club as general manager when we returned following the first lockdown in July 2021 and has shared his journey since then with us.
Matt said: “Many members of the team at the Bannatyne Group have spent about nine months on furlough while our wonderful clubs have had to close their doors due to lockdown restrictions. For me personally, there have been tough times but also many positives, not least getting to spend so much time with my amazing wife and truly wonderful children.
“Joining the Bannatyne Ingleby family last year was an exciting opportunity and both the team and members have made me feel welcome. I am so proud of how the team has managed the challenges we have faced throughout 2020, and into 2021, and so many members have commented to me in the club how safe they feel when in the club and what an excellent job the team has done.
“As we headed into lockdown 3, myself and my wife reflected on how we were going to get through yet another lockdown and chose to take control of things that we could and make some positive decisions.
“The first decision was to reverse some bad eating and snacking habits that had become a part of our daily lives. The second was to get some daily exercise that we would be able to maintain once things got back to normal. What we settled on is a combination of 30 to 45 minutes workouts. The combination comprised:
- Body weight HIIT exercises
- Weights sessions that we brought in out of the cold from the garage
- Les Mills On Demand and Bannatyne Workout Wherever classes in our living room as well as the odd dance workouts with a smile on our faces.
- The occasional run or bike ride when we felt up to braving the cold weather
- On the days when we felt low on energy taking walks out in our local area.
“I tracked all my exercise activity using my Myzone belt, as I have done over the past four years, in the process achieving Hall of Fame status.
“With myself and my wife having the support of each other through the past three months and keeping each other on track has helped get some pretty pleasing results but the journey doesn’t end here. At the time of writing as well as having more energy and feeling better about myself here are some key facts about the changes I have achieved.
- Body mass is down 7.7kg
- Skeletal muscle mass is up by over 1kg
- Visceral fat down to level six
- Body fat mass down to 16.9kg, 6kgs less than previously measured before.
- Body fat percentage down six per cent to just over 20 per cent
- I have also knocked a minute per mile off my running pace so I’m now averaging 7mins 30s per mile and feeling pretty comfortable doing so.
“Notice I did not once mention my total body weight and with good reason...in truth throughout the final three weeks of this lockdown my total body mass/weight has remained constant, but my body shape has kept changing and there’s positive changes going on inside my body too.
“Whilst we have been able to achieve a more positive wellbeing during lockdown, nothing can replace what the health club offers in range of equipment and facilities and classes, when they are permitted to return.
“The other massive factor in the return of the health clubs is the Bannatyne Ingleby family supporting one another through the positive steps we are all looking to make now we are back open.
“The team and I are so excited seeing members back using the club and we are all here to help support you on your wellbeing journeys.
“I look forward to seeing the members continuing to return to the club over the coming days, weeks and months and please feel free to stop and introduce yourself when you are next in the club.”
As the London Marathon was cancelled this year, many of our members wanted to take part in the virtual London Marathon to ensure they could still compete in the race.
One of our members who thoroughly enjoyed the virtual event was Cath, a member at our Solihull club!
Cath said: “As I didn't get a place for the London Marathon through the ballot, I was only able to enter the virtual London Marathon around five weeks before the event.
“At the time I entered, I'd trained up to 10km (roughly 6 miles) for another virtual event. We were given 24 hours to complete the marathon, so I decided my best strategy, given the limited training time before the event, would be to cover the distance in three nine-mile loops with short refuellingbreaks between them.
“My time of five hours 40 minutes covers the time it took me to complete the three loops. In terms of training, I ran three times a week, building up from six to nine miles on my Sunday long run. I also continued with my usual RPM and Mind & Body classes, as well as ballet classes and abootcamp in my local park.
“An important part of my training was to get used to multiple runs/activities in quick succession. As part of training for this, I did the RPM and Mind & Body classes in the morning, followed by the Race for Life in the afternoon. I also completed the virtual Great North Run (half marathon) mid- September.“While I can't have my usual PT sessions with James due to the Covid restrictions, I did message him for guidance as soon as I signed up for the marathon and built his advice into my training plan.
“Nutrition-wise, I made sure I had plenty of carbs in the days before the event, as well as using energy chews and an electrolyte solution during the marathon. “I also focused on creating a strong mental attitude, both by setting my mindset to when I complete the marathon, rather than if, and building a bank of quotes that kept me motivated. I also used these quotes as mantras during the training runs and the marathon itself. These included: ‘There will be days where you think you can't run a marathon, but there will be a lifetime of knowing that you have.’
“Running the London Marathon has been my dream since I was very young, so I was determined to grab this unique opportunity to do so.The whole experience has been amazing, and I feel intensely proud of what I have achieved under challenging circumstances. While 2020 has seen many of my races postponed until next year, it has also given me the chance to fulfil my greatest ambition, on a day which I will never forget.
Well done Cath, what an amazing achievement! And a huge well done to all of our members who completed the Virtual London Marathon across the country.
Nigel has recently become a member of our Chester Le Street club. He has been training each day to help lose weight for a parachute jump which is taking place on the 31st October in memory of his eldest grandson, Rhys, who sadly lost his battle with cancer a few weeks ago, when he was only 13.
Nigel told us: “Rhys was a great young man and would have turned out to be a very special man. He asked all his family members what their fears were, and I told him I was afraid of heights. So, he said I had to do a parachute jump! It has to be my biggest fear ever.”
We all support Nigel with his fundraising and thought we would share his gofundme link should anyone wish to help.
Now that members at our English health clubs are back and raring to go, we have caught up with Angus McCall, a member at our Carlisle club.
Angus said: “I was diagnosed with brain cancer in March 2019, had surgery to remove the tumour in April 2019 and subsequently went through radiotherapy and chemotherapy until mid-July 2019.
“It has been a remarkable past year and I wanted to share my story about how important exercise has been while I have been in recovery after being unwell and recognise how fantastic Bannatynes Carlisle has been in my rehabilitation.
“My health journey had left me with some trepidation about going back to the gym. I was worried that when returning to exercising I would not be able to do what I used to do and that instructors may find it difficult to have me in their class. I also had a loss of confidence in my own physical ability and a concern that I would simply not be able to engage in the activities that I used to do, primarily exercising and attending Bannatyne Carlisle. I was also concerned that my social interactions would be significantly affected as the gym and exercise played a large part in this.
“The week after starting back at Bannatyne, and after months of prior rehearsal, I took part in ‘Strictly Come Dancing Carlisle’ with my ‘professional’ dance partner Rebecca from Razzmatazz Carlisle; we won the glitterball trophy on the first night! Dancing at a group event was a great distraction, mood booster and enhanced the confidence that is gained from Bannatyne.
“I commenced radiotherapy and chemotherapy around six weeks later at the end of May as an inpatient at the Edinburgh Cancer Centre, where I made it routine to walk to the Bannatyne Edinburgh Queen Street health club around two km away and have a light session every day.
“Following completion of radiotherapy and chemotherapy in mid-July I continued the daily routine of gym and swim at Bannatyne Carlisle while listening to my body to ensure I did not overdo it.
“I started yoga, and this has been fantastic for my mind and body, improving strength and flexibility and it has been a huge help with relaxation and mental well-being. It has been great fun trying something new and I’ve been really surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed it and improved. My wife also comes to classes with me, so it’s been great to do this together.
“I have recently started spinning classes at the gym which are great because you can work at your own level. When starting back at the gym and classes at Carlisle I discussed my situation with the instructors and without fail they have been enthusiastic, encouraging and delighted to have me in their class.
“Part of my training has always included swimming. I have increased my time in the pool at Bannatyne and train in the pool almost every day. This gave me the confidence to join Carlisle Masters swimming club in January where I am training once a week in addition to my swimming at Bannatyne. I competed in my first competition; a North of England meet at the end of January where I won a silver medal in the hundred metres breaststroke. This qualified me for the Scottish Championships in Glasgow and The British Championships in Sheffield, I will be competing in both later in the year.
“I have been very fortunate. My surgery and therapy treatments have left me with a slight defect on my left hand side and also some power loss on my left hand side, but I have still been able to continue to participate in various forms of exercise. This has been so important in allowing me to feel fit and active and has been immensely beneficial from a mental health perspective as it has allowed me to stay active, socialise and maintain a normal routine. A large part of this is thanks to all the staff at Bannatyne Carlisle who, without exception have been welcoming, supportive and understanding. This has all helped to allow me to feel human in some very difficult times and I am extremely grateful for their support and care.
“I am so glad that Bannatyne Carlisle is open again so I can continue my rehabilitation with my Bannatyne family.”
We’ve caught up with a member at our Ayr club, Claire Reid, who has shared her fitness journey with us.
Claire said: “To be completely honest, up until 13 months ago I had never so much as set foot in a gym, never mind lifted a weight or heard of Les Mills!“I was just a normal, slightly overweight, almost 40-year-old mum of three, with little to no motivation to do anything about it. It took me looking at photographs of my holiday to Thailand in October 2018 to finally make me decide I needed to do something about myself.
“I was unhappy, living in baggy oversized clothes, and the photos just really brought home how much weight I’d gained over the previous couple of years, when exercise and healthy eating wasn’t a priority for me. It’s such a common story for so many women! “Three months later I joined a group personal training class and started to get interested in exercise and nutrition. It was the best thing I ever did! My trainer helped me understand the link between fuelling my body right and exercising to get results. It gave me a serious butt kick to realise just how unfit I really was. “Although I liked the idea of a gym and being able to go whenever I fancied, the thought of walking into this brand new arena totally out of my comfort zone, where I expected everyone to be fit, healthy and gorgeous, really put me off! I was so intimidated, and it took a huge amount of persuasion from my other half for me to finally take the plunge and join. Thank goodness I did.
“Walking in the door that first day was terrifying. But there was absolutely no need. The staff were friendly and helpful, I never felt scared to ask for guidance, there was always someone on hand to help. “I did an induction and looked at my InBody analysis. I was 67kg of which 20kg was fat. Nearly 30% of my body weight was fat! So, I got to work. I did a gym intro with one of the trainers and got a feel for how to use the equipment and what they were actually for! If you’ve never been in a gym like me, it’s a whole new world of strange machines!
“I attended as many Les Mills classes as I could, hammering out the cardio as much as possible, alongside working with my original personal trainer, who is amazing! As my confidence grew, I started to tentatively use weights.
“Fast forward to a year of my membership I now know a lot more of what works for me and what doesn’t. I work hard and really enjoy my workouts. The variety of classes and equipment is amazing, and the staff and trainers at Bannatyne are always happy to help and encourage and motivate me. They’re really second to none.
“I’ve got a new love for weights and doing my own workouts; I suppose I feel confident enough now to go it alone. It’s been a very quick and steep learning curve, but I’ve had so much support in Bannatyne’s both from staff and from the lovely friends I’ve met along the way. “How do I feel now? Well my latest InBody analysis shows I’ve cut my body fat to just 21%, my weight has fallen to 59kg. As happy as I am with these stats, that’s just the numbers.
“On a personal level I am a more happy, secure and confident person. I’ve come a long way from that terrified person who felt so out of place walking into the gym. I challenge myself every day and work hard to get right out of my comfort zone. My fitness level has soared and though I may not have the ‘insta-worthy’ flat tummy and peachy bum, I do have definition in all the right places. I’ve far more energy, I look after myself, and my headspace is in an altogether better place! “That’s what it’s all about, feeling good and being a confident and happy person. And finally being able to look at my most recent holiday snaps and being happy with what I see!”
Here is a little inspiration from our Chester-Le-Street club!
Meet Marc, the newest member of our CLS fitness team!
Marc is passionate about empowering others to live a more energised and rewarding life. Marc is a strong believer that with the right training and nutritional approach anything is achievable.
"Be Younger - Fitter - Stronger"
Marc has a few personal goals for 2020: remain under 10% body fat; increase explosive power and increase muscle mass by 5%.
“My name is Kevin, I recently broke my hip and then had surgery to replace my knee. I was struggling to walk short distances.
“I joined Bannatyne and was given access to a fitness trainer, Emanuela was my point of contact. Her depth of knowledge is incredible and with her guidance I have increased my mobility, regaining strength in my hip and knee.
“When I first went to the gym, I was struggling to bend my leg to put a sock on my foot. With her help I am looking forward to returning to the golf course very soon and plan to go on a golfing holiday in May 2020. I am very grateful for the support and guidance I have received from Emanuela.”
“My name is Evita and a year ago today I joined the Bannatyne Peterborough team as a membership advisor and embarked on my own personal fitness journey; the problem was that I had no idea where to start! I knew I would not be able to improve my fitness on my own, so I booked a session with Dan.
“The first step to any workout routine is to evaluate how fit you are for your chosen physical activity and Dan did just that by putting me through a MyZone recovery test and an inBody assessment.
“Since undertaking personal training sessions with Dan, my overall strength and fitness has improved dramatically, I am now able to perform exercises I would never have attempted on my own. I can always count on him for nutritional information and advice on making the most of my time in the gym. I have learnt so much about what I should be eating and what I should steer clear of.
“Dan is a constant pillar of support and on those days when you want to give up, he’s there making sure you carry on.
“Everyone here is willing to help, encourage and provide in-depth knowledge of exercise and nutrition. If you need a jump-start, GO!”
We would like to say a HUGE well done to Chloe one of our duty managers at our Durham club.
At the beginning of the month Chloe had set herself a goal, as a New Year Resolution, to get back into training and improve her fitness.
Chloe said: “Since I got my MyZone Moves belt at the start of last year I have wanted to get my first month iron status. I was unable to train enough in the month to get the MEPS I needed due to fatigue. At the end of last year my ill health peaked and I was unable to exercise at all due to chronic fatigue and tiredness.
“I am now getting the correct treatment and today I got enough MEPS to get my iron status!”
This month, with a pure drive to progress, Chloe has hit iron status with her MyZone. She is now dedicated and is looking to increase her fitness along with completing a level 2 fitness instructor qualification! Well done Chloe!
We are well and truly moving along with 2020. We continually talk to our members about their personal challenges and goals they have achieved to date and what their plans are for the coming year. Mark Bedford, a member of our Kingsford Park club, is most definitely on a mission to overcome adversity.
In February 2019, a mass was discovered on Mark’s right kidney. He was told the odds of it being cancerous were 85 to 90%. Due to the size of the mass, it was decided to monitor it for six months with continued scans and ultrasounds. During the same meeting, it was also discussed that at some point an operation would be inevitable, but there would be no timeline. Mark was told that it would be of benefit for him to lose weight, not only for continued health reasons, but also to assist with the operation and the recovery once the procedure had been done.
Mark decided it was high time he started to use his membership at Kingsford Park for the purpose he had originally purchased it: to lose weight and get fitter. Not only did he become an avid fan and regular of RPM & spin, he also signed up for Hatton Boxing with the now departed Ksenia, which he enjoyed. As Mark became fitter, he realised he really enjoyed the environment and the other members and staff at Kingsford Park, so much so, he decided that he would look into what he would have to do to get qualified as an instructor.
Mark has signed up to a number of local events for which he will be training very hard. These include tabbing Para’s 10, ROC24 team event and even a sprint triathlon. Mark believes that the only explanation for this strange turn in events is a mid-life crisis. But really, he knows it is down the truly inspirational individuals he has met whilst on his journey, both at Kingsford Park, members and instructors alike, and external activities such as Parkrun and Colchester Bootcamp.
Mark is current studying for his Level 2 gym instructors’ qualification with which he hopes to complete by the end of February. He will then continue his training, right through to level 4, specialising in diabetes and obesity, both of which Mark has experienced.
Well done to John! John has been a member at our Bannatyne Health Club Durham since February 2019.
John suffers from Parkinson’s disease and was diagnosed around seven years ago. Parkinson’s is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement and affects everyone differently. John’s journey with Parkinson’s started with stroke like symptoms down his left-hand side before being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
Through appointments at North Tyneside Hospital John was referred to Speedflex in Newcastle to help control the disease and to try and reteach his body some of his lost movement and mobility.
John was pre-diabetic 18 months ago and weighed around 21st. He used to get arm pains when walking due to the disease and had to use a stick to walk longer distances. For shorter distances John uses objects to help him balance such as tables, walls, equipment in the gym etc but has to really concentrate to walk properly and heel strike first.
John now attends about three Speedflex classes each week at Bannatyne Durham and through this exercise, along with dietary changes, has dropped to approximately 16st!
He said “My mobility and range of movement is getting better and the pains I get when walking have become less. I believe this is all down to Speedflex.”
John enjoys coming to the classes because it gives him a ‘rush’. He has made friends within the club along the way and has noticed improvements in his physiological state. He also likes the fact that Speedflex leaves you with little to no soreness after exercising.
John uses a Myzone belt to track his efforts, his calories burned, and get feedback from his workouts. He says the belt pushes him to train harder than he would without it and on one occasion when he did forget his belt, he did not enjoy the class as much. John has recently hit his first ever red effort zone and also managed to complete his monthly World Health Organization target 1300 MEPS (Myzone Effort Points) for the month of December and earned himself Iron status ranking. He is looking forward to pushing himself even further to improve his fitness, and to gain his Bronze status.
Well done John, keep up the great effort!
Have you been sticking to your New Year's resolution? One of our Dumfries members, Louise Laurie, wants to share her story so far and her goals for the next year with you!
Louise said: "My weight loss journey started in July 2008. After attending a family wedding and seeing what size I was in the pictures, I decided it was time to lose some weight. I was also borderline diabetic. I joined Weight Watchers the following week weighing 16 stone 9lb! With hard work and determination, I aimed to lose around 5 stone.
“This target came, and I wanted to lose more! The week I got married in February 2010 I weighed 10 stone 6lb - my final target weight.
“I joined Bannatyne Dumfries in March 2016 because I wanted to maintain my weight loss but also start toning my body and keeping my fitness levels up at the same time. Whilst at Bannatyne's I attended cardio classes and had a weights programme which I followed.
“Around September 2018 and nearly approaching 40 in February 2019 I was not happy so decided I wanted to change my body shape. Between October and December 2018, I lost a total of 16 inches by changing my routine.
“Since July 2019 I have resumed weight training 4-5 times a week, with limited cardio along with personal training whilst still maintaining my weight.
“My weight loss goals going forward over the next 12 months are changing on a week to week basis due to pending surgery. Unfortunately, this brings a lot of anxiety due to a strict rest period of 6-8 weeks, but until the time comes, I will continue to work towards my goals of building muscle, strength work and personal training along with good nutrition and thinking positively towards my recovery.
“Post-surgery my goal will be to slowly start building my strength back up with limited weights and personal training. I will then reevaluate where I am once fully recovered and then make a new set of goals to work towards! My weight loss journey has been one long road with tears, frustrations, anxiety, wanting to give up, determination and hard work - however it was also a lifestyle change I committed to when deciding to lose so much weight and follow my dream. It has all been worth it and even more so in the coming months ahead.
“All the staff at Bannatyne's are fantastic, but I can’t thank Robert (fitness manager) enough for all his help, support and encouragement. With personal training he has pushed me completely out my comfort zone at times!"
We have been chatting with one of the members at our Mansfield club, Claire Mackintosh, about her fitness journey so far and her goals for the new year.
Claire said: “I joined Bannatyne Mansfield eight years ago wanting to lose weight and get fit. I weighed a stone and a half more than I do now and was totally unfit. I never imagined how it would change my body, social circle and become part of my life!
“I initially started using the gym but, I didn’t particularly like working out on my own. I quickly realised that classes were the way forward for me. It was a game changer and I really enjoy the variety available. My regular weekly classes are Strong by Zumba HIIT, body pump, body combat, B/Strong, B/Conditioned, SpeedFlex, blubfit and the occasional body balance. I also use the virtual system too if I’m not able to make a class which is a fantastic option.
“However, after several years, weight had started to creep back on, and I’d managed to gain over a stone in a year. This was extremely frustrating as I felt like I was pushing myself physically but still putting on weight.
“So, I decided to finally bite the bullet at the beginning of November and see Laura for an Inbody scan and some advice. I was shocked by the results; it was definitely the kick up the bum I needed! Laura pointed out that the main problem was my diet – eating far too many carbs and not enough protein. She gave me some helpful suggestions and I really started to think about what I was eating. Six weeks later and I had lost almost 5lbs in weight and 2% body fat.
“Laura gave me my induction eight years ago when I first joined, and I have loved her ever since. She is an amazing instructor who really knows her stuff and I now feel motivated with a goal thanks to Laura.
“I’ve still got a way to go however, with Christmas and New Year out of the way I can concentrate on getting back on track and continue in the right direction.''
We have been chatting with Debbie and Trevor Rush from our Bury St Edmunds club about their joint fitness journey with us.
Debbie said: “When we joined the Bannatyne Bury St Edmunds club, we were two unfit people! Exercise had no place in our lives. We fell in love with spin classes and over a three-year period lost more than 21kgs between us.“Using MyZone has been a great help. We have a lot of banter with lovely like minded members whilst being able to have individual goals to achieve.“Finding something that is fun and not just exercise has made getting fit a great journey. Who knew we would be cycling 62 miles? Fitness through fun has really caught up with us.”
Personal trainer Daniel Renton shares his Christmas story of Bannatyne Health Club Newcraighall Member, Lucy Craig. Read Dan’s blog below:
What a difference a year makes! “I will start after Christmas”. How long are you willing to wait?
Sure it’s scary, it’s a risk (well it’s not actually!) But everything valuable worth having comes with a certain element of risk? I have coached literally thousands of folk over the years to improve not just their body, but their confidence, the way they carry themselves, and their lifestyle. All of them didn’t want to do it, they gave me their best excuses, they didn’t want to feel uncomfortable both financially and physically. I wanted them to stop waiting and putting off the challenge, so I pushed them because I knew what was on the other side, the rewards they would get from feeling at their physical peak. Individuals tend to put off getting in shape and especially at this time of year, they literally stop focusing on their health because they are worried to take the challenge (or they succumb to the mindset that Christmas is an excuse to do nothing!) Your body can do almost anything, it’s your mind you need to convince. You can do a lot of damage in a month…or you could start now.
Lucy joined Bannatyne’s as a size 28 and is now a comfortable size 18. We are now moving on to the next stage of her journey and are aiming for a size 16 in the next 12 weeks then a size 14 by the summer. Lucy can’t wait to see next Christmas progress pictures! She has lost over 50lbs and is aiming for 50lbs more by the summer which will be an amazing achievement.
Lucy is 19 years old and a busy professional, she runs her own very successful make up business which can be hard to balance work and fitness, but she is very determined!
We caught up with Elizabeth, a member of our Cookridge Hall club, about her fantastic weight loss.
Elizabeth said: “Over the last eight months I have managed to lose three stone and drop two dress sizes - although it hasn't been easy!
“Back in January 2019, my brother's partner asked if I would be a bridesmaid at their wedding in 2020. I knew I wanted to lose weight for the big day, so I started going to the gym a couple of times a week, mainly focusing on cardio. After a few months, I realised what I was doing wasn't working.
“I completely changed my diet and began tracking my calories, even the ones I definitely didn't want to track! I started using a MyZone belt to track my workouts which made me quickly realise I hadn't been working to my full potential at all! I included a lot more strength and circuit training into my gym routine and started to notice a difference in my body.
“With the help of weekly personal training sessions alongside my own training and nutrition plan, I'm steadily losing body fat and becoming stronger. I don't rely on weighing scales to monitor my progress, I take pictures frequently and use the InBody machine. I'm still not where I want to be but I'm focusing on the progress I have made!”
Paula Joyce, a member of our Cardiff club, is celebrating after achieving a fantastic weight loss. Paula joined our Cardiff club in January 2019 in order to increase her fitness levels after she was diagnosed with diabetes. Since then, she has achieved a fantastic weight loss of 38lbs, which is almost three stone!
Paula said that a healthy diet and increasing her exercise regime has helped her massively, as well as attending a range of Bannatyne classes. We’re glad you’ve enjoyed your fitness journey so far and look forward to helping you achieve more fantastic results in 2020!
We caught up with a member of our Cardiff club, Naomi Tugwell about her fitness journey.
Naomi said: “I'm hoping by sharing my story that I might encourage anyone who is struggling with weight loss, fitness and/or healthy living.
“I've been on this weight loss journey for a few years. In school I was bullied for being "fat" even though I wasn't. As a coping mechanism I started comfort eating which in turn made me podgy and overweight, not excessively, but I was definitely a lot bigger than I had been.
“I had tried so many times to lose weight and feel comfortable in my skin, but all I ended up doing was self-loathing and getting very, very depressed.
“I then started doing some home workouts. It felt good, but I knew I wasn't doing my best, so I took the plunge and signed up to Bannatyne Cardiff. I had great days and really bad days, that turned into a week or two, but pushed myself to carry on.
“I definitely fell off the horse a lot and cried thinking I'd never get anywhere with my body, but I kept going. I'm so thankful that I kept pushing through because not only do I feel a ton better, but a miracle happened! I went away last month and for the first time EVER I wore a bikini! Albeit I never took my shorts off, I still wore a bikini. I never ever thought I'd reach this point, so keep going because you can too!”
Meet Graeme a current member of Bannatyne Hastings who served in the Royal Navy for 16 years before he was medically discharged due to a renal condition in 2007.
Graeme became a member through Duncan Bannatyne's offer of free membership at our health clubs for veterans living with PTSD.
On leaving the Royal Navy he started Dryad Maritime - a business that provided anti-piracy and counter terrorist forecasts to ship Captains. The business grew to £2.5M turn over employing 50 ex-navy veterans. In this time it became apparent that he was he was suffering from PTSD and in 2017 this came to a head when he was no longer able to work and sought help.
The incident that caused the PTSD occurred when Graeme was second in command of a Mine Hunting Ship and due to a miscommunication, the ship’s crew were placed in mortal danger. Aware of the threat, Graeme was unable to prevent the incident from happening which led to the illness.
The illness, which sufferers experience as constantly being on guard, requires medication, talking therapy to address the cause of the symptoms and self-care, using relaxation techniques and exercise. Physical exercise has been shown to be particularly effective for ex-military veterans which is why Graeme believes membership of Bannatyne health clubs is so important.
Today, Graeme is turning his hardship into a positive and has produced a YouTube video* to offer his help and support to other people suffering with PTSD.
Graeme said: “Just as I was given a veteran’s place at Bannatyne’s, I was offered a chance to do some occupational therapy, which was six months of hard physical labour outside in the fresh air in Somerset. Now that’s over I plan to focus on my physical health by continuing my hard work at the gym and posting more videos of my progress to encourage other sufferers to get exercising.
“If I met Duncan Bannatyne, I would simply thank him for this amazing scheme. This is the best practical support you could ever give a veteran with PTSD. I am so incredibly grateful.”
Meet Simon, a current member at Sutton Coldfield. Simon was offered the opportunity to join our health club after Duncan Bannatyne offered hundred of free memberships for veterans with PTSD, with every one of our 72 health clubs taking part.
Simon, who is now self-employed, served for nearly 24 years in the Royal Air Force and issues from his service, particularly a tour of Afghanistan in 2006 affected his confidence and caused stress and anxiety, eventually diagnosed as PTSD.
Through his GP, Birmingham NHS Veterans' Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS) and the charity Walking With The Wounded, Simon has accessed counselling, which is helping with his mental health.
Simon has raised more than £16,000 for Walking With the Wounded over the last four years and is currently walking a virtual journey from Afghanistan to the National Memorial Arboretum, more than 3,600 miles which he hopes to complete on 23rd December as part of the charity’s Walking Home For Christmas event.
Recently Simon joined two other veterans and campaign ambassadors, including Wayne Bridge and two leading actors from Sam Mendes’ new film 1917- George MacKay and Dean Charles Chapman to launch the 2019 fundraising.
He has also completed the Cumbrian Challenge, walking the tougher route of 32.5 miles, which Simon says is “one of the most demanding physical challenges I have done for a long time.”
In December Simon is taking part in the British Rowing Indoor Championships in London on 7/12 with a Help for Heroes team.
Simon said: “Facing the fact that I have mental health concerns was a big issue as I did not want to admit I had problems or show weakness, and there was a part that was survivor’s guilt.
“The counselling is very positive and through fitness I have a far greater positivity and outlook. I am able to use the gym during quieter periods to reduce anxiety levels and with the support of the staff there have seen tangible results in my health and wellbeing over the last few months. My family has seen the benefits of using the gym in my personality and behaviours.
Meet Tashana Gregory, a member of our Luton club. Tashana is 17 and has been with us for around eight months, with a fitness goal of increasing her muscle mass.
Tashana said: “I first began to go to the gym as part of my netball training to further develop my muscular strength when landing and passing the ball with power. While still training with my team, I became a member at Bannatyne Luton, and this is where my love for training grew stronger!
“BodyPump was one of the first classes I attended, and it quickly became my favourite. The class introduced me to different techniques and methods of exercising which, after a month or so, gave me the confidence to train on my own on the gym floor.
“After creating my own workouts and beginning my routine, I began to notice results and changes to my body and I loved it. It gave me the motivation to train with the love and passion I do now. I am studying to become a personal trainer to help other people see results and hopefully fall in love with fitness the way I did!”
We caught up with Rob Nichols, a member of our Banbury club, about his fundraising efforts.
Throughout 2019, Rob Nichols and Harry Horner, are cycling more than 22,000 km East to the Japan, ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ in order to raise £22k to install solar power for the Lotus Children’s Centre in Mongolia.
Rob said: “We are raising money to install a solar PV system at the Lotus Children's Centre in Mongolia, a wonderful home for orphaned and abandoned children which we were able to visit on our journey. The PV system significantly reduce the centre’s operation cost, is aligned with the cycle's environmental ethos, and will seek to raise awareness for Ulaanbaatar as the world's worst polluted city.
“As we come to the journey's close, we would like to raise the profile of our trip, and in so doing raise interest in Lotus and our project for them.”
For more information about their trip, visit the website: https://www.farsidestudio.com/risingsuncycle/.
If you would like to donate to Lotus Children’s Centre, please visit: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=RisingSunCycle&isTeam=true
We would like to wish one of our hugely inspirational members at our Ayr club & Swimstars instructor Kayleigh, the very best of luck as she represents Great Britain at the World Para Athletics World Championships in Dubai this week!
Kayleigh has cerebral palsy and has completed competitively in swimming and athletics since 2011. At the world championships she will be completing on a RaceRunner which is a customer-built trike that prevents her from falling over and enables her to focus on speed. Last year, Kayleigh broke the world record in the RR2 100m at the European championships in Berlin, yet this is the first time the sport will appear at the World Championships.
Kayleigh said: 'I've been working really hard since early last year hoping to be selected. I'm so honoured to represent Great Britain for the second time - it's up there as one of my greatest achievements so far. I just want to enjoy the experience, grow as an athlete and hopefully come away with a personal best time - I can't really ask for anything more than that.'
All of the team at Bannatyne are rooting for her, and we're sure she will be rewarded for all of her hard work!
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