ACTIVE Tameside member Paul Barraclough won the Member Achievement Award at this year’s National Fitness Awards in November in recognition of a truly incredible weight loss and fitness journey that has literally given him a new lease of life.
Father-of-five Paul (56), from Denton, was 23 stone and taking 20 tablets a day to treat a number of health conditions including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, gout and depression.
Eight years later, Paul has lost an incredible 11 stone thanks to Active Tameside’s flagship facility, Tameside Wellness Centre, in Denton, where he attends the gym up to four times a week.
His health has improved so significantly, he now takes just two tablets a day and says he feels the healthiest and fittest he’s been in 30 years as a result of the regular exercise and healthier lifestyle.
Reg Patel, Active Tameside’s Interim CEO and Director of Operations and Asset Development, says: “This is fantastic for Paul and for Active Tameside. He is a great example of how positive transformations can be achieved when you set goals and put your determination into accomplishing them.
“We are very proud our facilities and support have played a part in his achievement, and it illustrates the importance of the benefits we can bring to the health and wellbeing of our communities of Tameside.”
The National Fitness Awards are seen as one of the industry’s biggest nights of the year and the member achievement award is open to gyms throughout the UK to showcase a member who has overcome adversity or a disability to achieve a personal goal.
Paul says: “It was great to go to the awards and participate in it, but to win it was a great experience. I was surprised to win because there were other people there that I spoke to in that category who’d done amazing things, so I was amazed to win. I don’t often say so, but I’m pretty proud of myself.”
Paul’s journey began when he was advised by his GP to exercise more as part of a vow to lose weight. He first attended Active Ashton and Active Hyde gyms with a friend but when his friend gave up, Paul lost motivation.
As his health and confidence hit rock bottom, Paul managed to summon up the strength to start again, halving the size of his meals, eating healthier and going to the gym again.
By self-managing his weight loss, and after attending a Tameside Council course to rebuild confidence and self-esteem, Paul became a member at Tameside Wellness Centre, where with the help of the team there, he embarked on a programme of strength and cardio exercises.
He now visits up to four times a week – often popping into the sauna and steam room where he can enjoy some well-deserved relaxation.
Paul is the first to admit that becoming who is today wasn’t an easy journey at times.
He says: “I lost my mum to ovarian cancer within a week of her being diagnosed and it was a big wrench. We were all very close and she was the kingpin of the family who held us all together.
“It really hit home, and I thought, ‘I’ve got my children and my wife, if I carry on the way I am, I’m not going to be here much longer’.
“From an early age I was a big lad. Eight years ago, I was 22 stone, I had a 54in chest, a 48in waist and I’m 5ft 4ins tall.
“Previously I could eat four bacon sandwiches easily for breakfast, for dinner I would eat pie and chips and a full packet of biscuits with a cup of coffee. It was easily done so the calories were piling on.
“I didn’t want to go out because my confidence level was zero. I didn’t want to speak to people because I basically felt ugly about myself and I’d felt like that for years, even before my mum passed away.
“I was a mess – losing my mum was the kick I needed.”
Paul and his family have also benefitted from attending Active Tameside’s Live Active service, which works to improve the health and wellbeing of those with long term health conditions through an ongoing physical activity programme and expert support.
He referred his 22-year-old daughter, Kirsty – who suffers from psychosis – and she now attends Tameside Wellness Centre gym with Paul and his wife Katherine.
“I’m a full-time carer for Kirsty and the Live Active service has really helped me to encourage her to get into physical activity. Her mental health is improving and she’s definitely getting there by being more physically active,” said Paul.
“It’s great to go as a family and when one of us doesn’t feel like going we motivate each other and then feel much better for it.
Active Tameside is a not-for-profit organisation which operates community leisure centres across the borough and provides an extensive programme of health and social care intervention services in partnership with Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council.
As a charitable trust it reinvests every penny of profit back into providing high quality leisure facilities and its life-changing services to ensure everyone can live happy, healthy lives and reach their potential.
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