Helen, who is retired and volunteers for a couple of charities, also cares part time for her elderly mother, who has dementia and is bed-bound in her own home.
“The dementia means she doesn’t respond to instructions, so I have to turn her myself. I’ve been wanting to strengthen my upper body to help me with that.
“When I got the email about Don’t Tone Alone, I thought it was amazing offer – in fact, I wasn’t sure I believed it! It was at timings I could manage and my timings can be a bit inflexible. I can also be a bit unreliable, because I can be called out to my mother at any time – though luckily that didn’t happen.”
Helen already did a bit of running but, to her surprise, she enjoyed the training with Chris. “When it wasn’t raining, we met on Wimbledon Common and twice we met at my flat. We did exercises in twos, alternating between two types and then going on to the next two – four groups altogether, usually.
“I found it very, very tough, but within my bounds of possibility. If there were things I really couldn’t do, Chris would adapt them.
“My ability to do things really improved and I was motivated to carry on. I now have a little list that I still do. It’s kept me going. I wasn’t interested in that sort of thing before, but Chris gave me a programme and, though I do give up more easily now without Chris beside me, urging me on, I am still doing it!”
Since starting the sessions, Helen’s mother’s condition has deteriorated. “It’s been difficult to judge if the exercise has helped me with my mother directly. But my sense I can do things has definitely improved. And, also, in a gruesome sort of way, I enjoyed it!
“This was infinitely better than other offers that come from the carers’ email group. Not a minute of the time I spent with Chris was a waste of time. It was really good that Chris had experience of being a carer himself. I’d recommend it to anyone.”