YMCA East Surrey

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Real Stories – Clifford

Clifford left hospital in a wheelchair following a stroke four years ago, unable to walk and with an unusable left arm.

With the support, expertise and encouragement of our Exercise Referral fitness instructors, last year he managed to walk a minimum of 1,000 steps per day on the treadmills at the YMCA fitness centre in Redhill.

“It is true to say that the YMCA has helped me through a very difficult period in my life whilst opening doors for further possibilities,” says former head teacher Clifford, 74.

He now drives an adapted car and comes to the gym most days of the week. Clifford attends Stroke Rehabilitation and Seated Movement classes, alongside being a regular gym user, and has taken up Short Mat Bowls.

“I was lucky to hear about the YMCA’s services from a fellow patient in hospital,” he says.

“Before my stroke, I smoked heavily and wasn’t particularly fit. In fact, you would have had to drag me into a gym kicking and screaming! But from the very first time I came here, I felt reassured by the knowledge and experience of the Exercise Referral staff. I knew that I was not going to be stuck in my back room at home for the next 20 years.”

Clifford finds the inclusive equipment in the gym invaluable as it enables him to exercise in a way that would otherwise be impossible. By toning muscles and keeping joints mobile, he has been able to lower his pain levels and reduce his risk of falling.

“Losing my balance is a constant worry,” he admits, “but here, too, the YMCA has helped enormously. It isn’t only the exercise that has done wonders. The exchange of information with other members is priceless.”

In the Stroke Rehabilitation class, Clifford heard about an NHS device which automatically stimulates nerves in the leg and foot, helping the brain to slowly reprogramme itself. He can now consciously flex his left foot and has no further need to wear the bulky and uncomfortable splint which previously held his ankle at right angles.

“When I come home I can take off my shoes and slip my feet into my slippers – such a simple pleasure,” says Clifford. “The YMCA has enabled me to regain a measure of normality, which to anyone else may seem insignificant but to me is a significant step along the long path to rehabilitation.”

Read more about Exercise Referral