Dawn C's story

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Dawn’s fitness journey began after spending 52 days in hospital in a life-threatening coma due to septicaemia, resulting in her living in hospital for a year. As a wheelchair user this was beyond damaging, not only to her psychical health but also her mental wellbeing. With her lengthy stay in hospital causing extreme muscle wastage, Dawn did not have the strength to propel her chair forwards and felt stuck as to where she could go by herself, so she confined herself to her home causing her to feel very isolated and lonely. After attending an AquaFit class to build up her confidence to get her started on her journey, she was ‘hooked’ and hasn’t looked back…making use of the gym, group exercise classes, personal trainers and the pool which she says ‘all helps with getting around and now being completely independent...I've got my life back and I'll be forever grateful.’.

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Keep reading for Dawn’s story in her own words

It was the concern for life passing her by stuck indoors, in addition to the determination to prove doctors wrong who told her she would never get better without surgery, that lead Dawn to join Aldershot Pools and Fitness Centre and start attending the water-based aerobics class, Aquafit as a gentle way to build up her strength. Not only did this build up her strength, it also built her confidence and inspired her to progress to attending the gym. Dawn says, ‘it was the thought of starting the journey that put me off going to the gym, plus I was anxious as a wheelchair user that I might get in the way of the equipment or other users, but I was so wrong, people have been nothing but kind and helpful.’

Starting off with completing exercises from her chair, Dawn began building her strength up and this progressed into the gym staff helping her out of her chair to use the gym equipment. Roll on 2 years later and Dawn is now at a point where she is able to do most of this herself! Her fitness routine has also expanded, she now attends studio classes around 5 days a week – she was invited by another member and became ‘hooked!’ as well as using our personal trainers and occasionally swimming.

Dawn cannot thank Aldershot Pools and Fitness Centre enough ‘it’s their welcoming staff that make you feel confident and comfortable enough to use the gym at any time of day and night. Plus using their pool has helped me tone up too, which all helps with getting around and now being completely independent’. Not only has she got much more strength and the ability to be more independent than when she started her fitness journey, but she also generally feels in a ‘much better headspace’. 

Her advice for other wheelchair users who may be anxious about starting on their own fitness journey is ‘you have to go for it! It’s changed my life and given me my confidence back and made me lots of new friends. It feels like home now, as everyone looks out for each other. It's just a lovely safe space to work on your goals’.

We asked Dawn what the future of her fitness journey looks like… ‘I intend to keep on coming to this gym for the rest of my life, and I pray one day I get the ability to completely use my legs again. I’ve come so far and made so many improvements that I see a bright future as I continue on my personal journey’. We wish Dawn all the best and our team will continue to support her on this journey!

If you have been inspired by Dawn’s story, or if you like Dawn are a wheelchair user, we have a range of facilities across a wealth of our centres which can cater to different disabilities. Our main goal is to create active spaces for health people and communities to thrive in, so it is important to us to ensure the landscape is accessible for all.

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