“Before I came here I felt disabled. In fact I was applying for DLA (Disability Living Allowance) the DLA application has gone in the bin now!"

Cathy used to have so much trouble with her breathing that when the lift went out in her block she wouldn’t be able to walk up the stairs to her home. On these occasions, Cathy would have to walk to a friend’s house or go and sit in a cafe and wait for the lift to be fixed.

After 20 weeks at Ability Bow gym, things have changed dramatically ; " I have lost 18 lbs in 20 weeks. I eat more healthily and outside of the gym I’m altogether more active and enjoy being able to take part in things I thought I had given up forever. I go to Aqua Aerobics, swimming, and I walk with friends on Hampstead Heath. Last time I went walking I only had to stop twice. Before I came here I felt disabled. In fact I was applying for DLA (Disability Living Allowance). My Instructor Chantelle has helped me get fit enough to climb the stairs to my home and she’s taught me how to overcome the panic when my breathing gets difficult. The DLA application has gone in the bin now! "

As a busy Social Worker, Cathy has a demanding job but it has evolved into a mostly sitting role and she has found it hard to prevent her weight from increasing as a result. She has Spondylitis (arthritis of the spine) which causes her constant pain, Emphysema (a lung disease) which makes her very short of breath, and she has recently discovered that she has a tumour on her spine that needs surgery.

“I never, ever, went to a gym before but I noticed how unusual Ability Bow gym was when I brought my teenage son in to Junior Gym.

It’s comfortable here; the staff are really welcoming. You can be yourself here and not be judged; the people listen to you and you feel really motivated to do your exercise. Before I came here I couldn’t walk properly because of the pain and the shortness of breath and I had almost given up trying to get better. It was enough effort to just manage the pain.

Now I feel so good after each exercise session. My lung capacity has improved but if my breathing gets bad the instructors know how to help me calm down. ‘It’s ok to stop!’ they tell me. I get my breathing under control and I carry on. The pain is still there but I can deal with it better.

If anyone was considering coming to Ability Bow gym, they should  definitely give it a go. I would tell them to get in here now!”