Member Journey –Will Wood

Name: Will Wood
Age: 32-years-old
Occupation: Sports Journalist
Member at Leisure at Cheltenham Leisure Centre, Cheltenham

Taking the Treadmill One Step at a Time

For 32-year-old Will Wood every day brings a new challenge, and just being able to walk is a huge accomplishment. That is why running on the treadmill, and even thinking about competing in a 10k run, is a success he is extremely proud of.  Just over two years ago Wood was found by his car having a fit and was diagnosed with a subarachnoid haemorrhage – commonly known as a bleed on the brain. The prognosis was that he would never use the left side of his body again and, along with severe memory loss, impairment of planning abilities and impacting his confidence, effectively meant he had to learn to walk again from scratch.

Rehabilitation was a large part of the healing process, but when Wood could walk again, albeit with a pronounced limp, he felt he wanted to continue to achieve more.  He says: “The biggest thing was to reduce my limp because I felt like it made me stand out from everyone else.”  

A moderate exerciser before the bleed; going for the occasional jog, doing some weights and push-ups in the evening and having just completed a 10k run, exercise played a crucial part in Wood’s recovery.  He joined Leisure at Cheltenham and embarked on his fitness journey. 

I believe in the power of the human spirit
Believing in his recovery, being determined to succeed and wanting to inspire and provide hope to people, Will allowed Precor to follow his progress over a six-month period and the results are amazing.  His first day in the gym was a real boost to his confidence.  He states: “It felt brilliant and while I was working out I felt like everyone else again.  It was as if my bleed had never happened.”  Starting off slowly by using the Precor recumbent bike and an arm ergometer, along with a circuit of air-pressure resistant stations to gently strength and condition the muscles, Wood began to improve, and by the third month had progressed to the Precor treadmill. Just walking on the treadmill was a feat, but he was elated when he managed to walk a mile, and then promptly gave himself the goal of being able to run on the machine.

I desire a life without limits
Wood uses an analogy from his job as a sports journalist, and comments: “If you have a goal then you have something to aim towards, if you don’t shoot then you won’t score.”

Chris Davis, Fitness Suite Supervisor at Leisure at Cheltenham observes: “What I noticed about Will immediately was his tenacity and drive to progress with each and every session, sometimes perhaps even well before he was ready. 

“A great example of his eagerness to conquer the Precor treadmill independently is when he became focussed on building speed to get back to running as soon as possible. An inspirational and equally amusing moment, even though I had strongly advised a gradual build up and to use the treadmill under supervision, was to find Will jogging away by himself.  Albeit slightly unsteady, but jogging nonetheless!  It was the realisation that weeks of what Will found to be a frustratingly simple but equally valuable strength regime had given him the stability and confidence to fulfil one of his most important gym related goals.” 

By month five Wood was running on the treadmill and continued using Preva to plan his workout.  Given his inability to plan journeys or retain directions he found Preva a key component of his gym activity.  He found it easy to use and the simplicity of being able to save his favourite workout and get going at the push of a button gave him the motivation to succeed.

Over the six months of filming Wood noticed he could not only run for longer, from just a few minutes to over 45 minutes, but had also got to the point in his exercise schedule where he could do some light free-weights to strengthen the rest of his body.  Today he’s committed to his fitness regime and gives himself jobs and shopping trips to make sure he continues to exercise throughout the day.

Having reduced his limp significantly, so that it’s almost imperceptible, being able to run on the treadmill and even walking to work, Wood is well on the way to a full recovery and has a lot to look forward to. 

He comments: “Being back at work as a sports journalist, if only for six hours a week, is a huge accomplishment as it’s a big part of my life and I cannot wait to show my bleed that it has not beaten me.  Apart from the fact that I can actually walk again, the most positive aspect of my fitness journey has been strengthening my walking by using the treadmill, so that I feel and look like everyone else.

I believe fitness is key to living the life I desire
“I took exercise for granted before but it has played such a major part in my recovery especially as there was so much at stake.  The Precor treadmill is a vital piece of equipment that I will carry on using as it represents the fact that I couldn’t even walk, was told I would never move my left hand side again, but now I can run!  It was so easy to use and great that I could watch or listen to music or TV, which helped the time to pass easier and took my mind off the fact that I was exercising.

I believe tomorrow will be even better because of what I do today
“My goal for the future is to continue to go to the gym three times a week and use the treadmill in order to train for another charity run, either a 10k or a marathon to support Headway, the national brain injury charity that has assisted and helped me to get back to normality.  Not only has exercising given me the use of my body back again, but it has restored my confidence and I’m looking forward to fit and healthy times ahead.”