On July 6th 2003 I suffered a stroke which affected me down the right hand side of my body. The physiotherapists and occupational therapists were great and within 3 and ½ months I was walking again, although my right arm was still extremely weak and it took a great effort to use it. I was discharged in November 2003. Almost straight away I went back to the gym and started training with Graham the instructor there. I built up some strength and movement in my arm again although the arm did not feel part of me and I really had to concentrate when moving it. In July 2004 I had improved enough to take my driving proficiency test with a manual car, which I passed. I also started my part time job again. The gym was obviously helping, however I wanted to do more to speed up the recovery of my arm and leg.
That’s when ARNI came in. My sister found out about it on the different strokes website. It was quite a long way to travel so I went along to watch a lesson see if it was worth the travelling. I wasn’t disappointed and decided to join up, despite the 3 hour drive. I turned up for my first lesson in November 2004. To begin with I was taught by Dave Waters. He got me running correctly again and doing martial art movements to improve dexterity, balance and strength. A couple of weeks into my training I had a lesson with Tom Balchin, the other teacher there at the time. Tom had also suffered from a stroke 6 years ago and now through martial arts training and doing weights he was a stronger (he is unbelievably strong!) and better person than before which gave me some hope. He got me working out with a disconnected punch bag, doing dead-lifts, arm curls and much more. He also got me doing martial arts moves to improve my dexterity, strength and balance. Tom took me on as pupil after that as he could see how much I wanted to improve.
In January 2005 Tom moved to west London (Isleworth) which took an hour off my travelling time. To begin with Tom got me training in the University grounds where he was working, doing bench presses and shoulder and leg work on awkward objects like heavy boxes. He also got me working out using his bands which are excellent (I bought a set!). We eventually joined LA Gym in Isleworth which was good as it has a large hall so we could do martial arts and also a good weights section. Recently Tom has got me doing squats as well defending myself with my bad arm and trying to get out of holds with it, all of which are good exercises.
Driving to ARNI in Lingfield (Gatwick area) and back was very tiring to begin with. I found that my hand didn’t want to do anything after a lesson. However, as your strength and dexterity improve the driving gets easier. After ARNI moved to Isleworth the distance shortened and the driving was no longer a problem.
Since joining ARNI I have improved a lot. I can now:
- Bench 18kg dumbbells.
- Barbell dead-lift 140kg from floor (yes, 140kgs)
- Shoulder press 12kg dumbbells.
- Front raise 5kgs, side raise 4kgs.
As well as doing rows etc. I also have good balance and better movement. I now plan on going back to University and doing a masters part time in September. I am also going to carry on at ARNI gaining more strength and dexterity.