Meet the Member: Sally shares her Portway transformation
Sally has undergone an amazing fitness transformation over the past five years, which has seen her lose six stone and turn around her mental health, through a combination of running and specialist instruction at her local gym. She recently featured in our New Year campaign and shared her amazing story with us:
Sally Powell has dropped from 14.5 to 8.5 stone and now trains five times a week at Portway Lifestyle Centre - run by Sandwell Leisure Trust (SLT) which manages services in partnership with and on behalf of Sandwell Council - having struck up a really positive and productive working relationship there with SLT instructor Luke Morris.
Sally, who works as a healthcare inspector, explains: “My weight and lack of fitness were really getting me down, so I started running on my own first, at night so nobody could see me, as I didn’t have the nerve or confidence to go to a gym. It was really tough and lonely at the beginning, but I persevered and started losing weight, so that gave me the strength and will to go on.
“A year ago, however, I moved to Oldbury (from Halesowen) to be closer to work and because I didn’t know anybody at all, I finally took the plunge and decided to join Portway for the gym and their classes. I wanted to take myself out of my comfort zone of road running and do something different with other people – and without a doubt it’s been the best thing I’ve done in a long while.
“Portway has a genuine family feel. I love the variety of so many classes and there is always someone to help you in the gym. I love the teamwork, the motivation, encouragement and the inspiration other members give you. The instructors are incredible and the receptionists make me smile before I even get into the gym. I have made some super amazing friends through Portway Lifestyle Centre and coming here regularly makes all the difference – it’s my happy place!
“It’s also taught me that fitness is fun, really good for your mental health and I am a much more cheerful, optimistic and healthier person now. Putting the work in consistently helps you to achieve goals and that’s such a rewarding feeling.”
Sally began at Portway with the Body Pump class run by instructor Luke Morris and she liked it so much that she quickly progressed to Body Attack straight after and also Spin classes – but with Luke always being her go-to person for advice and a pep talk as needed.
She adds: “I started at the back in the corner, but before long I was down the front and loving it and really mixing with the other members and developing a much needed social network as well. I work from home a lot now and can go days without seeing anyone, so my Portway time has forged some great new friendships and really lifted my spirits too.
“Latterly, I’ve been training with Luke for the Nottingham Christmas Marathon in memory of my cousin Ian who lost his battle with leukaemia in late 2018, at the age of 31. I jokingly said to him one day before his chemotherapy that I would run a marathon to raise awareness and money for cancer charity Bloodwise and so I had to honour it.
“Luke came up with a specialist gym training programme for me centred more around strength, core and conditioning than running and it absolutely paid off because I finished in 4 hours, 12 mins and 38 secs, which is exactly 40 mins quicker than my previous best time. I also raised £700 for Bloodwise with the kind support and donations of family, work colleagues and of course my Portway friends, so I hope that Ian’s parents and the family are proud of my efforts.”
Luke (age 24 and from Halesowen) adds: “It’s been an absolute pleasure working with Sally and she’s really come on leaps and bounds and her confidence has grown so much. It started with just general fitness goals, but she quickly got the bug and now does her own research on the programmes we’ve implemented and asks technical questions, which has been really great for my development as well.
“Apart from the weight loss, she’s ultra trim and toned now and the cardio work we did in the gym recently for her upper body and back to assist in the marathon was quite tough, but she’s always so willing and her progress has been amazing and it’s been a gratifying experience for me too.
“Sally has brought a lot more people to my classes as well and it’s really nice to be recommended in that way and much appreciated. Working out with Sally doesn’t really seem like work, so she’s definitely played a big part in me becoming a full time SLT instructor and I’ll always be grateful.”
Sally’s journey and transformation has not gone un-noticed with other Portway members either and she has become a bit of a mentor to others struggling with the likes of eating and drink disorders.
She concludes: “I run a few private What’s App groups and a motivational page off my Instagram and just draw on my own personal experiences really. I remember how hesitant and unsure I used to be and that feeling can stop a lot of people getting started and even binge more.
“Honestly, I am living proof that anyone can lose weight, get fit and generally turn their lives around for the better with a bit of determination and the right kind of support. If my story can inspire just one person to take the first steps towards a fitter and healthier them, then I’ll be delighted.”