When you go to the doctors looking for something to help with pain and mobility, a gym session isn't uppermost in your mind. But Halo's GP referral programme (which offers personal support for those struggling with or at risk of serious problems) has helped countless people tackle ill health in unexpected ways, as Rachel Griffiths found out.
“The problem with my knee and my mobility was serious. I couldn't sleep because of the pain, couldn't walk easily without a crutch. I care for my husband who has had a stroke and the lack of mobility was a problem. I wanted to enjoy my family, including my seven lovely grandchildren. So I was willing to try anything.
“My programme combined exercise and weight loss, exercise to strengthen the muscles around the knee and weight loss to take pressure off the joint. I was told for every stone I lost (and I was 15 stone then) it would be like taking three stone of pressure off my knee.
“I remember my first day in the gym at Bridgnorth Endowed Leisure Centre. I couldn't do more than a minute on the cross trainer at Level 1. Seriously, that was it. It probably took about six weeks working with an instructor (twice a week) for me to get going and feel a real difference. Then I was prescribed another six weeks of support. Within that short time I was going out without my crutch, and sleeping through without pain. Now when I am on that cross trainer I do at least 30 minutes at Level 6 and am addicted.
“The key for me was the support. Having someone who wasn't focused on the end goal, but the mini goals I was working towards every session. Jenny, the personal trainer, would tell me not to worry, remind me that every little bit - every minute I did in the gym - was helping and that encouraged me to keep going. It was so gentle, and so supportive. And I'd always go home with advice about what to do in between sessions - moves and stretches - to support the programme.
“As I started to feel the difference I changed the way I was eating. Not drastically, but by keeping an eye on calories. Making sure I was eating plenty of veg, salad and fruit and plenty of lean meat and fish. I cut out cake and biscuits, but I wasn't missing them because I could see - I could feel - the difference to my health. Now I'm down to 11 stone 5 and feel so much better.
“My GP was so pleased, and perhaps a little surprised at how quickly I felt the difference. As soon as my prescribed referral programme finished I became a Halo member, and now I go to aqua aerobics as well as working out in the gym. This is a change I've made for life.”