As a general practitioner, Rita Forster knows how to keep herself fit and healthy, and says she can count on one hand how many times she has suffered a debilitating health problem.
But five years ago she started getting dizzy spells and collapsed twice, resulting in several fractures.
She damaged her spine and pelvis, which could have seriously affected her retirement plans with husband, David.
She said: “I treated patients for so many years with conditions that affected their mobility due to problems with their joints, bones and muscles causing pain and restricted movement. Activities I took for granted were not always possible for them.
“When these afflictions came closer to home I finally realised that many parts of my life I had always taken for granted were actually being affected.
“I had to use a walking stick and in the worst periods a four wheel walking aid to do the most simple of journeys. I found that as my balance and ability to walk unaided became affected I started to lose my self-confidence. Without getting fitter I feared our retirement plans would just be a dream.”
Rita and David, of Thornton, had planned to travel around the UK and Ireland in their new motor home.
To make sure they could still have the retirement they had dreamed of, Rita realised she would have to improve the muscular support in her spine as well as her balance and general agility.
She said: “I had looked at fitness options and understood Pilates could be my way forward.
“I knew Pilates classes at a gym would not be good for me as I was limited in the range of exercises I could do and my pain can easily be aggravated. I had been looking for one-to-one instruction and fortunately found this at the Spire Fylde Coast Physiotherapy Department, with Samantha, a member of the team, who had recently trained in Modified Pilates.”
Samantha Wall, Physiotherapist at Spire Fylde Coast on St Walburgas Road, Blackpool, helped compile a specific exercise regime to help Rita get more strength.
Rita, 69, said: “The results have been great.
“I’m getting fitter and using muscles that I had long forgotten existed.
“My balance and agility have improved dramatically and I have experienced far less pain. As the weeks have progressed, Sam added more exercises to my regime, and I must say I enjoy the sessions and do feel motivated to do the exercises at home.
“I feel so much better and have now started swimming and have installed a cross trainer exercise machine in my summer house. I will be back to the age of 30 before you know it.”
Samantha said: “Rita’s ranges of movement have improved and her level of pain has lowered.
“We even went as far as recording our sessions for Rita to play at home as a form of homework, as well as giving her printed exercise sheets to follow.
“It is wonderful to see such a delightful lady moving so much more freely and who is now able to be as active as she wished to be.
“I am especially thrilled that she no longer needs her stick and walker.”