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Fitpro magazine’s deputy editor Aislinn Kelly enthuses about the fitness industry’s shifting focus from pert bottoms and washboard stomachs to successfully using exercise as therapy.


More to life

It’s encouraging that, as an industry, we’re shifting some focus towards exercise in a therapeutic sense and – as I find when I speak to PTs and group X instructors working with clients with injury or illness – we’re embracing and enjoying this aspect of the industry. I may not be a PT or group X instructor but I can imagine the sheer delight and satisfaction of seeing your client overcome physical – and mental – difficulties through exercise. A few years ago my husband and I moved in with my grandmother for a few weeks after she had a new knee fitted. You could say (she does say!) that I bullied her into doing the daily exercises given to her by the physio, but she also tells me she believes it was this that ensured her new knee was a success. Do I feel chuffed about my small part in her recovery? Of course I do!

It is often my pleasure to interview the Inspirational Trainers we feature in Fitpro magazine. A good number of our Inspirational Trainers over the last year have worked with people recovering from injury and illness, which shows the shift in our focus at Fitpro. Our Autumn 2015 Inspirational Trainer Stephanie Wadlow, for instance, runs a cancer class, stroke classes, better balance classes, a weight-loss class, a chair aerobics class, and a re:balance exercise and advice session. Awareness has increased around the rehabilitation work Stephanie and the team are doing at Freedom Leisure and she tells me, “We’ve opened two more classes to cater for the demand and, increasingly, when I’m speaking to GPs and nurses, they understand what we can offer. Things have taken a leap and that’s great.”

More recently, I spoke to Tom Higo, our Summer 2016 Inspirational Trainer. Tom told me about his work with clients with MS. “My goal with someone with MS is to make that client more independent,” he says. “If you give me an elite athlete to train I might be looking at shaving a couple of seconds off their time but, with a client like this, you can make such a big impact on their life.”

Hearing from such committed trainers made me want to know more about the impact of exercise on those who have – or are recovering from – an illness so, in the next issue of Fitpro magazine (autumn 2016), you can read my article profiling three group X instructors who run classes for clients rehabilitating from cancer and strokes. Take a look at this video for a sneak peek at what one of the fit pros I spoke to – Jan Sheward – is doing to help cancer patients. 

Watch the video here:


Another of the fit pros profiled is Sheffield-based Lucy Annandale, who runs stroke classes. She’s involved in a new scheme that sees the doctors of tomorrow experiencing a work placement in the gym in the hope they will refer patients to an exercise environment once qualified, which seems like a fantastic initiative to me. Then there’s Richard Latham, who works closely with Wiltshire Council on the Places for People physical activity referral programme, Active Health. Richard says, “NHS-based healthcare professionals (HCPs) across the county have access to an online referral programme developed by Wiltshire Council. The HCP can make an instant electronic referral for their patient for a wide range of health conditions. This allows the patient to access a 12-week programme of increased physical activity, in addition to specialist programmes for cardiac rehabilitation, exercise after stroke, falls prevention and long-term neurological conditions. At the end of their 12 weeks, the client gets assessed again and this information is fed back to the HCP. At this stage, we encourage clients to continue staying active by offering pathways to other activities.”

If you want to read more about how these fit pros run their specialist classes, the autumn edition of Fitpro magazine is out on 1 September, free to all FitPro members. Within the issue, we’ll also learn how to perform the human flag in calisthenics, find out how one fit pro adapts his sessions for a child with ADHD and autism, check out studio cycling equipment, look into new research on whole grains and loads more … so you don’t want to miss it.

If you’re not yet a FitPro member, well that’s easily remedied (no pun intended!). Head over to to find out more about us and how you can join up.

And … could you be our next Inspirational Trainer?
Have you pushed the boundaries in your career? Email us at and you could be our next Inspirational Trainer. We really do want to hear from as many of you as possible, so drop us a line!