Ability Bow disability and long term health conditions rehabilitation gym member Sherner Mehmet is a survivor.
After being diagnosed with and experiencing several life-threatening conditions, he’s now doing his best to thrive against all the odds. He talks to us about how inner London’s only disability gym is vital to his physical and emotional recovery.
Sherner is always smiling. A recent Ability Bow member who joined last October, since attending, he already feels part of the gym’s ‘family’.
“Coming to the gym is probably my life now really, as it’s so much fun”, says Sherner. He adds: “The little victories I gain here from myself and those I see in others who attend, enhance both mine and their lives. It’s like a little family and community here!”
For Sherner, his life is gradually improving. Visiting the gym 5 days a week, the 57-year-old rarely misses a day, as he says it’s not only developed his physical wellbeing, it’s also refreshed his mindset.
“I used to find it overwhelming to face people and walk out my front door”, says Sherner.
He adds: “Since being at the gym and talking to our brilliant instructors, they’ve helped me realise these barriers I’ve faced aren’t anywhere near as big as I perhaps feared.”
A Painful Diagnosis
Despite being a regular gym user before becoming an Ability Bow member, the Cypriot-born Tower Hamlets resident Sherner hasn’t always felt as positive during his life. Diagnosed with a Grade 1 meningioma brain tumour last year, Sherner has also experienced various traumatic health challenges - including experiencing a heart attack, a brain bleed and a stroke.
Sherner says: “It was devastating at the time! My health problems left one side of my body feeling completely dead.
“I remember feeling that I was dead and finished at the time and it was only once my occupational therapist told me about the gym, that I was able to start my recovery and since then I now believe miracles do happen since coming here.
“I used to have a wheelchair and quadstick on before entering the gym while I couldn’t walk properly, but I’ve really gained confidence at Ability Bow, including improving my dropped foot, arm and shoulder and slowly I’ve tried to regain full movement.”
Sherner, who used to work as a builder and landscape gardener - as well as selling catering furniture - says what makes Ability Bow unique is how passionate the service is in aiding member recoveries and seeing the person amidst their disability.
A sports enthusiast - and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club fan - he’s always enjoyed various physical activities including swimming, weight training, tennis and badminton when as Sherner puts it, he’s felt ‘fully fit’. He now believes thanks to Ability Bow, he’s gradually rediscovered the energy and desire to enjoy his favourite interests.
“The atmosphere is better than anywhere I’ve ever been! Seriously, it is the best work I’ve seen take place anywhere! What makes Ability Bow different is that it gives hope back to people and make them think, it’s better than nothing – getting any bit of life back is vital for people.
“I used to not want people to see me and for them to see me as weak because of my condition and now, I really don’t care - as the instructors really spur you mentally, which is fantastic,” says Sherner.
“Coming here has made me a lot less embarrassed about my challenges and what others may think too and both the instructors and members are able to congratulate you, say well done and empower each other - which makes you smile and valued too for making a difference.
“What I also love about Ability Bow is it’s motivated me to see friends and family. It’s given me so much morale to pursue my interests, including socialising with my brother more and going out for dinner with him, which has really helped me thanks to the gym.”
Despite his challenges, Sherner also knows while many of the ‘little victories’ he’s experienced are small to most people, they’ve had a big impact on his life - including helping him acquire new skills.
He says: “I can’t thank people enough being here! My arm and leg improvements thanks to the instructors is amazing, as they and everyone else here offer such a boost.
“Mentally, I’ve also really been able to learn to accept the way I am. I’ve never given up trying to get myself out of a negative mindset since being at the gym. The victories I’ve had since being here are huge, as physically I’ve managed to progress my sit-ups and not lock my leg - I’m amazed I’ve been able to do step ups without locking too!”
Why Sherner Recommends Us
Sherner has undoubtedly benefitted from Ability Bow. But why does he recommend others should join?
“What people may not know without visiting Ability Bow, is how much people who’ve never had that function physically or have serious mobility challenges, gain such a fantastic quality of life so quickly, just by being here - which helps them both here at the gym and at home.
“In a nutshell, Ability Bow is designed specifically with programmes for everyone’s individual needs, the instructors are friendly and motivate you and the gym and its equipment is really accessible and easy-to-use,” Sherner says.
He adds: “But essentially, I’ve always been able to smile and relate to people 100 percent through their shared physical and mental experiences - which is vital to my recovery, as I believe this place has truly saved my life!”
To find out more about Ability Bow’s range of specialist exercise programmes for people living with disabilities and long-term health conditions - including for those recovering from stokes, experiencing hearing challenges and for those seeking healthy weight and lifestyle support - visit: www.abilitybow.org/activities.
To donate or fundraise for us, visit our Fundraising page.