New fitness classes aimed at boosting the confidence and physical fitness of cancer patients in Gloucestershire are starting in Cheltenham next month.
The exercise circuits are a joint initiative between registered charity Heidi’s Heroes, Specialist Cancer Physiotherapist Clare Lait and gym staff at Cheltenham Ladies’ College Sports Centre in Malvern Road.
The hour-long classes are being offered free to cancer patients and start on Monday May 11th, running from 11.30 am to 12.30 pm. They will be led by Clare, who is a Specialist Cancer Physiotherapist with a wealth of experience in the field. She will be supported by Brendan Ward, Senior Gym Instructor at CLC Sports Centre.
Clare, a former Cheltenham Ladies’ College pupil herself, said: “These classes will provide cardiovascular exercise which is currently not available specifically for those diagnosed with cancer in Gloucestershire. The classes are suitable for anyone diagnosed with cancer from aged 16 years old upwards. It is aimed for those who are awaiting surgery or treatments as well as for those undergoing treatment and those who have finished treatment.
“For many people having cancer takes over who they are, so as well as the obvious physical benefits to exercising and improving your fitness, there are great emotional benefits too. Exercise can help you to regain your confidence, your energy levels, relieve anxiety and depression and give you some control back over your body and your life.”
The classes are open to patients with all types of cancer irrespective of your prognosis. Anyone taking part will be asked to make a small donation to Heidi’s Heroes.
Clare, who works at the Cotswold Sports and Injuries Clinic in Bath Road, said that by improving fitness before surgery or treatments, people can help prevent post-operative complications and improve their chance of a greater survival. For those undergoing treatment, or recovering from surgery, improving fitness can help them return to their hobbies, work or previous lifestyle.
“Each class member will need to complete a detailed medical and lifestyle questionnaire and if necessary we will liaise with their consultant or GP to ensure the level of exercise they are doing is appropriate,” Clare said. “Many people who have, or are recovering from cancer, are afraid of doing exercise or may feel fatigued so think they shouldn’t. But as long as it is done in a controlled, managed and supported environment such as we are offering, it is actually extremely beneficial as well as being fun.”
As part of the initiative CLC Sports Centre is providing the Sports Hall at a discounted rate. It is also offering a 10 per cent discount on membership to anyone attending the exercise circuits who may wish to join the Centre.
Heidi’s Heroes is funding the discounted cost of the Sports Hall and the staffing costs for Clare and Brendan. Paul Wood, founder of Heidis Heroes, said: “When Clare approached us with this idea we thought it was an excellent initiative as there is nothing quite like it available to cancer patients at present.
“Heidi used CLC Sports Centre when she was initially recovering from breast cancer surgery, so improving fitness for cancer patients is something very close to our hearts.
“This is a very practical, focused way Heidi’s Heroes can help provide a very specialist exercise class for those living with cancer. Clare is very experienced and well-qualified in this area and we are delighted to be working with her and the CLC Sports Centre to deliver this new venture.”
Heidi’s Heroes is a registered charity and was set up in 2013 in memory of world championship swimmer Heidi Wood of Cheltenham who died of breast cancer in 2012. The charity’s honorary patron is Sharron Davies, a friend and training companion.