Stockport widow becomes a ‘gym addict’ at 69

Lucy Neild is now a self-confessed gym addict

A widow who became overweight and unhappy following the death of her husband has hailed the community gym that helped transform her life.

Lucy Neild, 69, says staff at Life Leisure’s Avondale centre at Stockport Academy helped her pick herself up after the loss of her husband -she had put on more than four stone while caring for him and became so low she couldn’t leave the house.

But with the help of her physical activity coach Paul ‘Rocky’ Lindley at Life Leisure, she was referred to via the Physical Activity Referral in Stockport (PARiS) scheme, she has been able to shed the pounds and find a new lease of life.

Lucy, who was spurred on to join the gym by her son Matthew, said: “I’d been with my husband since I was a teenager.

“When he died all my feelings went. I was at my lowest point, physically and mentally. The PARiS scheme has not only lifted me mentally, it has also transformed my body.

“My metabolic age is 53, and I feel like I have a better figure than I did when I was 18.

“Before, the arthritis in my spine, knees and feet meant I struggled to get out of the bath or reach things on the bottom shelf. The exercise has made me much more flexible and strengthened all my bones.”

Lucy and Paul ‘Rocky’ Lindley

The PARiS scheme, which is delivered by Life Leisure at centres across Stockport, provides residents with an expert physical activity coach for people with chronic health conditions.

Retired Lucy, who is now an ambassador for the scheme and regularly attends Pilates, core training, weights and aqua aerobics at Avondale, said: “After three months, I was addicted. Now the gym comes before everything. I love it!

“The last three years have been incredible, and the Life Leisure staff have been marvellous. It has shown me that nothing in life is impossible.”

The boost to Lucy’s mental and physical health meant she shed her extra weight, ate more healthily and gained the confidence to kick-start her social life and making new friends. Recently, she took her first solo trip abroad – to the French Riviera.

Lucy’s diabetes has also improved, and all the signs are her medication will be reduced next time she visits the doctor.

Rocky, who has been working with Lucy for three years, said she is the perfect example of how activity and exercise can change a person’s life, not matter how old.

He said: “It was evident to me that she was emotionally low, struggling with life in general and it was all beginning to take its toll.

“I took the initial step of meeting up once a week with her at my gym session – this gave her a routine and got her in to a ‘good habit’ of attending. She started to progress, slowly at first, small goals to aspire towards.

“She’s now an ambassador for PARiS and a real asset, whether in my gym sessions or assisting a new starter in to the aqua aerobics session.

“What a transformation, and again, another fine example of how activity/exercise intervention can change a person’s life as well as reducing the strain on NHS resources.”