I have not stepped foot in a gym in years, probably about a decade, so it was a strange experience to suddenly be around treadmills and weights machines again but it felt great to be taking such big steps in my recovery/rehabilitation.
My girlfriend Amy and I have tried to do as much exercise as we can; every weekend we have walked up Gloucestershire's many beautiful hills together to try and strengthen my left leg and get it working properly again, and it is progressing, but there is only so much the two of us can do on our own. So we were delighted to step it up a notch and receive professional help from the Re-Active Scheme.
Re-Active is Cheltenham Borough Council and NHS Gloucestershire's physical activity referral scheme.
The Re-Active scheme uses exercise or physical activity to significantly reduce the effects of many medical conditions so we popped on down to the Leisure@ leisure centre on Tommy Taylors Lane in Cheltenham. Luckily, it is situated opposite Cheltenham Rugby Club, so it brought back lots of nice memories of covering various Cheltenham Combination Cup finals at the end of every season, this year's showpiece event will now have added significance for me when the time comes.
My main goal is just to get back walking properly again so there are no noticeable effects of an injury such as my current limp, therefore, a lot of emphasis was placed on strengthening my legs, particularly the left one as this is most affected by the bleed as it occurred on the right hand side of my brain.
My next goal is to get back running again, as I was interested in running before this all happened. I completed the Gloucester 10k charity run just a month before my bleed occurred so running is important to me. Unfortunately I cannot remember any of it because of the effects of the bleed, which might not be such a bad thing, as I now cannot recall the painful push for the finish line. I would like to get back into fitness again in order to complete more charity runs, potentially, and help raise some money for charities such as Headway, the brain injury charity who have helped me so much in my recovery.
Also, my left hand and fingers still close up so I was interested in anything to try and open it up more. I already sleep with what I call: "the claw" which is a foam aid that stretches my hand and fingers open. However, I like to pretend with my girlfriend, that I have a robot arm, accompanied with the sound effects.
So my first experience of the gym and Re-Active was a brilliant one, I felt very welcomed and looked after. Rachel, my physio, came to oversee and help with everything as she knows my capabilities the most as she has worked with me over these last few months of my recovery.
One of the instructors of Re-Active, John, really took his time with me and was extremely patient, letting me go at my own pace so I didn't feel nervous or uncomfortable with anything and explained everything thoroughly. He got to know me as a person and really encouraged me to push myself all the while understanding any difficulties I have. He wrote down an individual workout plan for me which is kept at the gym, so I don't forget it!
I went to the gym again today for the first time properly after my induction, I found my workout card and got going! Although we got stuck at the first hurdle as neither of us could remember how to adjust the seat of the bike. But John was on hand to help me out, again. It is nice going to the gym but even nicer knowing there is always someone on hand to help.
Re-Active is a brilliant scheme and I am definitely going to make the most of it!