When you ask Samantha what she got out of eight weeks of one-to-one exercise with Chris Robertson of Don’t Tone Alone, her first reaction is: “Pain!” Then she laughs and admits just how much she appreciated the chance to work with a personal trainer.
“It was nice to look forward to, nice to do, and we even had a bit of a giggle. It wasn’t just clinical and professional, it was very friendly.”
Samantha has more reasons than most to need a break from daily life. Married to Rob, with two young sons and a part-time job, she is also a carer. “My youngest son Harry is 11 and he has Down’s Syndrome, autism and a heart condition.
“He was born very small – just 4lbs – and was in intensive care for a month. Down’s Syndrome wasn’t detected until he was three months old.
“Ever since, it’s been a non-stop whirl of appointments. He was later diagnosed with a hole in the heart and, in 2010, with autism. It was heart breaking and, at one point, I got very depressed.
“Harry still wakes up early and in the night, and it does isolate you. We don’t go to friends’ houses – being as he is, he would break things. He needs watching every minute. So there’s been an awful lot going on and it’s affected the whole family.”
When Samantha heard about the home-based exercise sessions through Carers Support Merton, she liked the idea. “I thought – I’ll do that for my 50th. I’m a very young 50, but this isn’t the sort of exercise I usually do.
“In the first week, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But Chris turned out to be a nice cheery guy and it was so good someone could come to me.
“Chris first checked what I wanted to get out of the sessions and we completed a questionnaire with questions like ‘How do you feel?’.
“We worked out a programme of exercise and, the next week, out in the back garden, we went straight into it.”
Samantha was grateful for Chris’s thoughtfulness. “For the first couple of sessions we did exercises that were going to be helpful to me. One thing Rob and I struggle with is getting Harry out of the bath. Chris got me to work on my shoulders and back.
“Chris was good at pushing me. He adapted the exercises week on week, as I got stronger. I definitely saw the difference. But he also made it fun and I didn’t feel stupid doing it in my own garden.”
Samantha ends by saying: “I would definitely recommend Chris. I’m not surprised to hear from friends that demand has been high.