Determination, Positivity and Fitness

Inspire Blog |

Matthew Bloomfield is a Lincs Inspire leisure member managing an autoimmune condition called Guillain Barré Syndrome, which affects his balance, co-ordination and mobility. With these impairments, daily tasks have become challenging for Matthew, who is 29 and from Grimsby. He met with us to help raise awareness of the condition and share how our Leisure facilities are helping to improve his wellbeing.

Matthew has always led an active lifestyle, using the gym, being part of an 11 aside football team, playing in a local table tennis league and running in 10k and half marathon races prior to his diagnosis. During a holiday to Florida in the spring of 2017, he became unwell after contracting food poisoning and upon his return home, his symptoms rapidly deteriorated. In the summer of the same year, Matthew was diagnosed with Guillain Barré Syndrome and spent six months in a Recovery and Rehabilitation Unit at Castle Hill Hospital in Hull before returning back to Grimsby. 


Guillain Barré Syndrome typically affects the nervous system, and in Matthew’s case, the peripheral nervous system, which includes all the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. This results in impaired signals from his brain to his arms, hands and feet, which affects his co-ordination and balance. The sensory feedback Matthew receives from these areas is also restricted, which makes navigating the obstacles of daily tasks challenging. In March 2018, Matthew started exercising in the gym at Grimsby Leisure Centre’s Health and Wellbeing site, which has been able to support him through specially adapted equipment.

Since joining the gym, I have made significant progress. The equipment here is well suited for people managing neurological conditions. I use the adapted treadmill and upper body cycle machine regularly and more recently have started fortnightly Personal Training sessions. These sessions have introduced weight lifting into my workout, which have improved my strength. All of the exercises have helped to improve my co-ordination, balance and fitness levels, which are helping in my life outside of the gym. It’s rewarding to think how much progress I have made in just over 18 months.

Matthew Bloomfield

Matthew’s Personal Training sessions are delivered by Fitness Instructor Kieran Hough. Kieran said:

“I have worked with Matthew for over 12 weeks and since day one he has been a pleasure to work with. When he came to me he was unable to use the Biodex treadmill and Sci-Fit machine for any length of time. Through using weights and co-ordination skill challenges he has stayed persistent and come a long way. Cardio and resistance training have been increased and his improvements are clear to see. Matthew has a great attitude and mind set.”

Matthew also swims once a week at Grimsby Swimming Pool, with the aid of a water wheel chair and a pool side lift, which is able to lower him into the pool. This is able to provide a full body workout and compliment his gym activity.

Outside of the Leisure Centre, Matthew continues to raise awareness of Guillain Barré Syndrome and through sponsored football and table tennis events has been able to raise over £3000 for national charity Guillain-Barré & Associated Inflammatory Neuropathies (GAIN), dedicated to helping people in the UK and Ireland affected by the autoimmune condition. Through a sponsored coffee morning, he was also able to raise money for the Leisure Centre to contribute towards new specialist equipment.

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Kieran added:

“Matthew has made significant progress and continues to take great strides forward. His positive mind set, exemplary attitude and dedication are a testament to his character. We wish him all the very best in his journey to improved health.”

The adapted equipment at Grimsby Leisure Centre Health and Wellbeing site includes a Biodex treadmill designed for those with neurological impairments, with a monitor to provide visual biofeedback, slower speed settings and rails for assistance. The Sci-Fit seated upper body workout machine is easily accessible, supports bi-directional exercise and has a low starting resistance. The site also has a toning suite, which is able to support people managing health problems.