Welcome to the new health, fitness and sports page. I am genuinely excited about the opportunity to share with you the real world of all things fitness and wellbeing.

I’ve grown surrounded by the ever evolving industry that can play a positive part of your daily life including awesome opportunities to ensure you stay motivated and active. I have also seen the confusion and hype of unsafe propaganda causing yo-yo dieting or injury, causing once motivated participants to become deflated and confused by their constant binge eating or their ‘sleeping’ membership to the fancy gym down the road.

I have been a personal trainer for many years, working in some of the best known health clubs in the country, I’ve worked alongside some of the best trainers and trained 100s of clients myself and taught classes in community halls to prestige clubs and now own my own company working with fantastic clients as well as athletes, delivering performance related programmes. I’ve worked as management, supporting teams of instructors and trainers in various Health Clubs and leisure centres. If you really wanted to see my credentials, then a quick visit to my website will fill in all the gaps. What I do want to get across is the experience I have had and the amazing people that I have helped. Exercise really does do more than people initially believe. It’s not just the physical benefits but more so the psychological changes that can be made to improve a person’s outlook on life.

This page will not be filled with pictures of exercises that you can find in every other magazine but I will be sharing real stories from real people that train at my gym and have overcome some real life obstacles and why exercise has massively improved them in so many different ways. Maybe you might connect with these people and in some crazy media way, it may just give you the confidence and motivation needed to get up and go for it.

If it is a workout you are looking for, then at the end of each article will be a link to a video coaching you through some awesome moves. I’ll also leave my email address, in case you want to connect with questions or your own stories.

My future articles will contain real life stories from clients that I currently work with. We will cover real life issues and how fitness and strength training has not only been a milestone to pursue but how it’s allowed them to grow psychologically and helped them overcome barriers which has brought amazing results.

We will cover stories including recovering and training after cancer, tackling obesity, anxiety and dealing with life changing experiences that have left women desperate and unhappy.

Real women, real stories and how training has given them that lift…

Cancer, a disease that has affected so many lives, whether it’s dealing with the disease itself or caring for a family member, maybe a friend or just someone you know. It’s everywhere, it attacks any part of our body and can ‘hit’ at any part of our life. Dealing with such a life-changing experience can be traumatic physically and psychologically for the person concerned and, after dealing with the news of having cancer to dealing with the treatment in any capacity, is both terrifying and traumatic for everyone involved. Around 2.5 million people currently suffer from cancer in the UK with breast cancer being the main devil of the disease in women.

I have had my own unfortunate experience with cancer, the closest being with my mum who over the years has had cancer 3 times. She has battled and fought a tough fight, surviving skin, breast and the latest and worst, cancer of the colon. It was a tough and emotional time especially as it was the time I was pregnant with my son. I saw the impact the illness had, the psychological distress, the fatigue brought on from the chemotherapy. She gave up work, driving, sewing, painting and cooking. Her life was turned upside down. Although, she couldn’t do much, she never gave up, she tried to keep herself as busy as possible, trying to keep her creative hat on even though she lost the feeling in the tips of her fingers and her coordination was shot to bits. I and my sisters tried to keep her active, going for short walks, just getting her out. Thankfully after a big operation and 6 months of chemo, she beat it and has fully recovered physically. Psychologically there are scars. The fear of its return and could she go back to where she was, be who she was. It took time and I think for a woman in her 70’s, it knocked the confidence right out but she survived and is now fully recovered and has been given the all clear. It took time but her confidence grew and with gentle persuasion, she started to join some of the classes we hold at the gym. I also gave her mobility moves which she does every day and this has helped her movements and mobility for everyday activities like gardening, shopping and generally feeling energetic to do the things she loves: getting creative. The best bit is she’s started driving again. The feel of independence is back and that is so important to feel alive and enjoy your hobbies and passions.

Unfortunately, it does affect all ages and has no preference for who it attacks. Kate was 38 when she found a lump in her breast and was quickly diagnosed with breast cancer. Kate is now one of my personal training clients but before coming to work with me, thinking about exercise or even getting back in to exercise seemed a long way off or if ever!

Treatment for her started straight away. Chemotherapy was harsh and side effects came quickly, losing all her long curly red hair and constantly feeling exhausted. I asked Kate how it was for her going through the treatment, how she coped once she knew about the cancer.

Q. How did you feel when you found out you had breast cancer?
A. It was a huge shock being diagnosed with breast cancer at 38 and I found dealing with the emotional side of things a lot harder than the physical side, such as the surgery, radiotherapy and the chemotherapy. The fear and not knowing my future was the scariest part and that was constantly in my mind which is exhausting as well as the physical symptoms.

Q. How did you cope with the treatment?
A. I lost my hair but I didn’t have many other side effects, I was quite lucky. I just felt very tired and had no energy. I used to be really active but I couldn’t do anything as the treatment wiped me out. With the lack of exercise, I started to put on weight.

Q. Going through this experience, has it changed you as a person?
A. It hasn’t changed me as a person, but I do look at life differently and prioritise things outside work a lot more than I did before treatment. I spend more time doing things for me, seeing friends and family.

Q. How long was your recovery after treatment stopped? What were your symptoms while recovering physically and psychologically?
A. It took about 6 months to adjust back into normal life again. Tiredness was the main physical issue I had to deal with. I went back to work a couple of weeks after my treatment finished and this helped to get back into a routine. Psychologically, the worry/anxiety regarding the cancer returning is ongoing. If I feel ill, it worries me more than it would have before the cancer. It’s a constant worry that I don’t think will ever leave but hopefully will subside.

Q. When did you feel ready to take part in exercise?
A. A year after my treatment had finished, I felt ready as I have a long commute to work and even with a phased return it took a long time to get my energy levels back. I started to exercise in February 2017 as I felt I had the energy to do this and you had been recommended as a personal trainer through friends. Also, I had put on a lot of weight and wanted to try and get back to a healthy weight.

Q. What were your concerns when starting to train?
A. The cancer and treatment left me with mild lymphedema in my arm and prior to my treatment I had back problems, so I was worried I wouldn’t be able to exercise again. This was a concern as I had put weight on and didn’t want to live an inactive lifestyle.

Q. How long have you been training and how has it helped physically and psychologically?
A. I have been training around 7 months at Amazon24 Fitness and it’s helped me lose some of the weight. I have been working on strength mainly which has helped alleviate the symptoms of the lymphedema in my arm. I had to wear a very uncomfortable, thick arm sleeve to stop the upper arm from swelling. The training has increased circulation and has reduced the swelling I used to get, meaning the sleeve does not need to be worn which is fantastic. I don’t ache so much and have felt a lot more energetic in my day-to-day life. I train twice a week and with the help I receive I’ve started to push myself again which has really increased my confidence and self-esteem. My back feels a lot better with increased range of movement. It has been great for my stress level which has kept any anxiety or worries at bay. Being positive through 9 months of treatment was quite difficult for me and it made me anxious, but I had the support of family and friends who helped get me through it. My outlook on life changed a little and I have made sure I make time to do all the things I want to do. Working out for the last 7 months has given me more energy and I feel like my old self before treatment. I still have moments of being anxious about my health, but hopefully in time, this will change and the training has definitely been a huge part of that positive process.

Kate has made amazing progress and it’s through perseverance and determination to not be beaten by what had happened that she now is living her life to the full. Exercise is such a powerful tool to overcome such stressful times in our lives and as long as you get the correct help from fitness professionals and the go ahead from the medical professionals, then I wholeheartedly would encourage anyone to use exercise as a way of recovery for both physical and psychological recovery. I’ve seen mass changes in Kate, probably more than what she sees in herself and I’m so proud of the progress in her outlook on life as well as her lifestyle changes.

Kate, my mum and many other women who have suffered but were determined not to be beaten are a true inspiration to others that are battling this horrible disease. Never give up, keep moving and keep fighting. A true Amazonian war cry of survival!

Mel Young