Gym on awards list for its healthy work

Swindon Advertiser: Top, from left, Carole Jones and Fred Moss. Bottom (from left): Donna Fox and Keith Bell. Top, from left, Carole Jones and Fred Moss. Bottom (from left): Donna Fox and Keith Bell.

A POPULAR gym, which has helped hundreds of people cope with debilitating conditions and injuries, has been shortlisted for a national award.

The gym at Broome Manor Golf Complex is one of only six gyms nominated for Best Rehabilitation Facility of the Year in the National Fitness Awards, with the winners announced today at a ceremony in Manchester.

The Swindon Council-run gym’s rehabilitation sessions are managed by the council’s Sport and Health Improvement team and are for people aged between 14 and 80 who are living with specific health conditions and disabilities.

The gym has various pieces of equipment, such as an arm cycle and multi-cycle, which can be used by people with disabilities. Paralympic powerlifting bronze medallist Keith Bell, who is a qualified instructor, supervises the sessions and is supported by other qualified staff and volunteers.

Since the sessions started two years ago there has been a 10-fold increase in the number of people attending with 200 of the 700 monthly visits to the gym being from people attending the rehab sessions.

The Sport and Health Improve-ment team works closely with other health professionals, such as GPs and physiotherapists at the Great Western Hospital, to raise awareness of the sessions and to facilitate referrals. Referrals to the sessions also come via other council-funded public health programmes, such as Steps to Health and Healthy Lives.

Keith, who won his bronze medal at the 1984 Paralympic Games in New York, said: “Although winning the bronze medal was good, this is more rewarding because you get to help people achieve really great things in their eyes. This could be as simple as having the strength to make a cup of tea.

“But we have had individuals arrive in wheelchairs and we have got them walking again, which is superb. We have had amputees, people with neurological conditions, people with MS or Parkinson’s and those that have had strokes.

“It is great we have been nominated for this award, but the most important thing for me is that we continue to help people.”

Fred Moss, 74, of Lawn, was diagnosed with a lung disorder three years ago and attends the sessions at Broome Gym two or three times a week. He was referred to the sessions after attending the Council’s Healthy Lives course for people with Chronic Pulmonary Obstructive Disorder.

“I have to carry oxygen around with me all the time,” said Fred. “The more efficiently my muscles use oxygen the better, so my muscles need to be in good nick. I am much fitter than I was.

“It is a great place and we get to know each other by name and there is a social element to it. The gym has helped my quality of life. I sing in the Swindon Male Voice Choir and enjoy watercolour painting.”

For more information visit: www.leisureinswindon.co.uk

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