Toning suite is like being 'part of a family'

Christina's Story

Christina Van Vuuren moved to Grimsby from Daventry in August 2019. Since childhood she has been managing a medical condition called Scoliosis, which affects her mobility and causes her back pain. Scoliosis is where the spine twists and curves to the side and as in Christina’s case, most often starts in children between the ages of 10 and 15 years.

Having lived with this condition for most of her life, Christina has tried many different things to help improve her symptoms, ranging from physiotherapy, pain relief medication and even wearing a spinal brace for four years when growing up. After moving to the area last year, she was keen to join a supported gym programme and when discussing this with her GP, was referred on to Active Forever. 

Prior to starting the twelve week programme, Christina was struggling with daily tasks that included walking, or activities that involved raising or twisting her body. As well as these physical problems, she was also finding it difficult with the emotional side of having moved to a new area with barriers that were keeping her from being active and social. However, since exercising twice a week in the toning suite, Christina’s strength, mobility and wellbeing have improved greatly.

Christina said: “When I moved to Grimsby I could hardly walk, and there were times when I could barely move my leg. Within only a couple of weeks of exercising, my mobility had improved and I was feeling much more positive. It has been a gradual process, but I can feel my core getting stronger and my back healing. My back pain has become more manageable and I was recently able to take my dog for a five mile walk in the countryside.

“I feel better emotionally because of the exercise, I feel more in control. If I hadn’t received the support from the staff and members at the toning suite, I would have probably dropped out within a month or so of starting.”

With being new to the area, Christina was also finding it difficult without having a support network of family and friends around her, something that the toning suite has also helped with. She added:

“Coming here has really helped with my low mood, everyone here is so kind and cheerful. If you look around, people are talking and encouraging each other, there’s a positive atmosphere. It’s like being part of a family. It’s also been something that’s brought me out the house, which has been great from an emotional point of view”.

Having completed Active Forever, Christina is now setting herself goals for the near future. Her target is to complete a Park Run at some point during 2020, and she also plans on adding swimming to her workout regime later on in the year.

Christina’s story shows the benefits of regular activity for people managing long term health problems. Within just twelve weeks, her mobility has improved and her pain has become more manageable. She has found the support of being part of a community of like-minded people has helped her emotional and mental wellbeing.

Outside of the toning suite, Christina has recently taken part in one of Grimsby Local History Library’s 6 week Family History Workshops and from this has managed to trace a cousin of hers. She describes this as something that has given her back her roots. She also listens to audio books through Lincs Inspire Libraries’ free service RB Digital, meaning that even on quieter days in the gym, she has always got something to keep her occupied whilst working out.

Active Forever is a twelve week wellness scheme intended to support people managing health problems to keep active, meet new people and achieve their aspirations. The programme includes access to Lincs Inspire’s gyms, swimming pools, group exercise classes and toning suite. If you are interested in joining the programme, please speak to a member of our Health and Wellbeing team at Grimsby Leisure Centre, or to a health professional, i.e. your GP, practise nurse, health trainer or physiotherapist, to see if you can be referred.