Pearly Queen Keeping Fit For Life Thanks To Ability Bow

An Ability Bow gym user with a visual impairment as part of recovery from a brain aneurysm which kept her in her ‘bedroom for a year’, says she can finally be her again thanks to the ‘life-changing’ 12 month rehabilitation work she has completed as part of our service, which is inner London’s only disability-tailored gym.

Lorraine Sadler, 61, Pearly Queen of Tower Hamlets, was awarded a 12-month completion certificate alongside 16 other participants as part of the Bow-based gym’s Fit For Life Open Day celebration event on 16 April 2018, which also saw our new disability activist and campaigner and Ability Bow gym user, Samantha Renke, become our new official supporter.  

Around 45 attendees gathered at the Ability Bow Fit For Life event - including Lorraine’s husband Terry Sadler, 70, who is the Pearly King of Tower Hamlets - which featured fun and healthy eating-based activities including smoothie making, as well as connecting Fit For Life participants with various Tower Hamlets health and wellbeing-based services and activities on the day.  

Being Lorraine Again  

Run in partnership across Bromley by Bow Centre and Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust services, Ability Bow’s delivery of the Fit For Life programme has helped more than 200 people into exercise since launching at the gym in 2013, whereby its members including Lorraine have benefitted from various specialist rehabilitation services for people with disabilities and long term health conditions.  

Speaking at the Fit For Life event - which highlighted participants’ progress in healthy eating, physical activity, weight management and motivational support since completing the programme - Lorraine said: “Not only have Ability Bow brought me back to fitness, they’ve seen me as me, rather than someone with a disability, which means I can be Lorraine again, which is great, because that’s who I want to be. 

“My disability in itself feels hidden and when people get to know of it, you get all the sympathy, which for me, I don’t really want and by coming to Ability Bow and meeting everyone that I have trained with here and who’s helped me along the way, I’ve got so much confidence that I don’t sit in my little room and don’t use my cane anymore.” 

Keeping Fit For Life  

Alongside Lorraine, other Fit For Life programme participants were also recognised for their achievements at the event - hosted within our service at St Paul’s Old Ford Church, St Stephen’s Road, adjacent to Roman Road Market - including 63 year-old Mark Mapstone, who first joined two years ago and says that thanks to the gym, he’s kept his independence and mobility.  

“I came here with a lot more weight than I have now and with severe depression and thanks to thanks to the people here and the trainers, they’ve all got me through it,” Mark said.  

He added: “If I hadn’t have done what I’d done here at Ability bow, there is no question I’d be in a wheelchair permanently now, so it’s thanks to the gym that I’m feeling ‘fit for life’.” 

Fit For Life participants were awarded certificates at the open day by Shoreditch-based Samantha Renke, 32 - who lives with a rare genetic disorder called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, also known as Brittle Bone disease - who says she’s looking forward to consistently using Ability Bow’s fitness services, after stumbling upon our gym and finding it to be inner London’s only rehabilitation gym for disabilities and long-term health conditions. 

Speaking at the Fit For Life event, Sam said: "Although I get involved in a lot of projects, Ability Bow really struck me when I first visited them and as I couldn’t find anywhere to go to the gym, I wanted to feel healthy and by being here, it’s helped me to not feel overwhelmed by big abs or macho attitudes like in other commercial gyms, which can be really intimidating. 

“There’s a lot of misconceptions regarding people with disabilities, which can be anything from we’re benefits snatchers, we’re lazy, we don’t want to go to work, we don’t want to socialise or have relationships and this is totally untrue.  

“Thanks to places like Ability Bow, its users and I can feel part of a fantastic team which is like a little community and which has such a variety of people who help to remove the stigma.” 

Health and Wellbeing Connections  

Welcoming services including the Bromley by Bow Centre’s walking football team, community partnerships-focussed Social Action for Health and other social prescribers on the day, Ability Bow director and Fit For Life event host, Victoria Kent, said: “I’m delighted with the fantastic achievements of our Fit For Life 12 month programme award winners and the work which has gone into their health and recovery. 

Victoria added: “This is thanks to not only Ability Bow’s great partners and its specialist team and supporters, but most importantly, all of the programme’s members themselves, who are putting the ability back into disability with what they can do on a daily basis.” 

Claire Dunne, Bromley by Bow Centre Fit For Life Programme Manager, said: “We’re ecstatic to celebrate the amazing work Fit For Life participants have achieved in partnership with Ability Bow and Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and we’re hopefully going to be able to connect many people to both our services and partners borough-wide to bring real health and wellbeing benefits locally.”  

Donating To Us  

To help support our members with disabilities and long term health conditions connect with their community and enhance their long term health and wellbeing: 

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Find Out More    

To find out more about the Fit For Life programme, visit Bromley by Bow Centre's Fit For Life Programme page and take a look now at Ability Bow’s variation of the programme.