Heather says weight training has made a life-changing difference to her body and her health at the age of 53.
She had always been a keen runner and cyclist, but years of debilitating injuries and chronic arthritis in her joints left her feeling old and unable to keep fit.
It got to the point where the pain meant she was ready to give up on her health and fitness altogether, after doctors advised her to stop running, give up cycling and even avoid walking.
But coming to Ultimate Performance Manchester and working closely with a personal trainer on resistance training and building up her strength changed everything.
Learning how to safely and effectively train with weights helped build strength around her joints and ease her arthritis, enabled her to be more active, and even allowed her to destress from her job, where she often works 70-hour weeks.
Over 12 weeks, Heather has lost 6kg and a third of her body fat to make a remarkable transformation.
“With the support of my trainer, I had the confidence to try weight training for the first time.
“Knowing he was there planning exercises, taking account of weaknesses and building strength in the right areas, whilst constantly monitoring, improving technique and ensuring I was safe, made a massive difference.”
Weight training has enabled Heather to get out and enjoy life again, and even try new activities like ballet and yoga.
None of this would have been possible just 12 weeks earlier.
Heather, who has two children and cares for her elderly parents, has an incredibly busy life and a demanding career which sees her flying internationally on a weekly basis.
Her stress levels are high, her time is limited, and it used to be that her health and fitness took a backseat to the growing list of competing priorities in her life.
“I felt previous injuries and worsening arthritis meant I was not able to improve my strength and fitness and was restricted to low level walking for the rest of my life. This left me feeling too old and past it to dare enter a gym.
“I thought I was on the verge of, and it sounds a bit dramatic really, but just collapsing in a heap, so I thought I better do something about my life.
“They said cut back on the walking and not to do any impact exercise, which I already couldn’t do because of my knee, and it just felt like the last straw.
“Someone was telling me I couldn’t walk, so I decided I would have to fight back.”
It was then that Heather decided to walk into Ultimate Performance Manchester and start her life-changing journey.
She had never lifted weights before, and was worried that she might not even be able to handle the training.
“I wanted to make sure that when I came in, it wasn’t going to be a big gym where they just pile weights on you and you’d end up even worse, injured, or you couldn’t do it.
“I had to trust what I was told which was ‘we will work with you to see what you can do’ and we will adapt things for you.”
But what she found was completely different to her preconceptions.
Her trainer developed a personalised program that worked for her body, took into account her injuries and health issues, and enabled her to make great progress and build up her strength safely and effectively as a beginner.
“U.P. is a large, successful global company and the approach is very professional yet it does a great job of remaining very personal and supportive.
“All the staff seem to love fitness and their work and it provides a very welcoming atmosphere without being overpowering or ultra-competitive with a good mix of gender and ages.
“They have a clear strategy and focus on ensuring they only have the best trainers supported by appropriate technology and equipment and, very importantly, it works for all ages and sizes!”
It was in this supportive and encouraging environment that Heather was able to take strides in getting fit and strong again, and learn the art of resistance training for fitness, health and wellbeing.
The impact in just 12 short weeks has been phenomenal.
“I feel physically stronger and support my joints better by strengthening the surrounding muscles enabling me to do more and reduce the strain and inflammation.
“By maintaining this strength, I intend to avoid surgery considerably longer than would otherwise have been the case.”
This improved physical strength hasn’t just improved her health and helped in managing her arthritis, but it has touched many other areas of her life too.
“When you feel stronger, you walk differently. You feel taller, rather than feeling hunched and lacking confidence.”
“The best thing to do to make you manage your life is to feel strong, fit and healthy, because then you can manage things better.
“I don’t want to sound dramatic, but I don’t think I’d have been able to cope with the last few months if I’d not been able to take the time to come here because I think I would have just gone even more downhill.
“If it wasn’t for this, I would be in a lot worse state looking after everything else.”
Heather says she wishes she had started strength training years ago as a way of keeping fit, strong and injury-free.
She credits the personal training at Ultimate Performance for creating an adaptable training program that worked for her to get back to fitness.
“I have to say a big thank you to my trainer, Anthony, for his constant patience, and continual research and thought to adapt exercises.
“He has been great at judging just the right amount of weight and repetitions to push me forward without injury. He really made a massive difference.”
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