My Professional Experience
I have more than two decades of experience as an exercise professional and I can't imagine doing anything else. Twenty six years after starting my career as a personal trainer in a corporate gym in London, I still love what I do and bring endless energy to my work. I'm deeply passionate about having a healthy relationship with exercise.
I now work more clinically and specialise in helping people after stoma surgery, with cancer, burned out or injured runners, those with chronic illness/fatigue and people with ongoing injuries or pain who want to finally get to bottom of their problem.
I keep up to date with my training and thinking, and weave together a unique range of movement based modalities including cancer rehabilitation, biomechanics, movement coaching and clinical Pilates ... and with decades of knowledge and experience I offer a holistic and individualised service.
Although I love to work with a wide range of clients, due to my own personal experience, my passion is probably in stoma surgery and bowel cancer and the role that exercise plays in recovery.
I have been working in an increasingly clinical role with nurses and people with bowel conditions over the last few years. I have developed the industry-leading training course (me+™recovery) for ConvaTec (www.convatec.co.uk) to educate nurses about exercise, movement and recovery for their patients. I have trained thousands of nurses around the world and over 300 NHS and private nurses in the UK.
I am currently recognised as one of the UK’s leading practitioners in abdominal rehabilitation and recovery after stoma surgery.
This work led me to write and publish my first book The Bowel Cancer Recovery Toolkit.
I have also conducted research and published clinical research papers in peer reviewed medical journals – British Journal of Nursing and Gastrointestinal Nursing in 2016 and 2017.
I love presenting and teaching, and regularly speak at conferences and workshops around the world about stoma rehabilitation, bowel cancer, hernia and exercise in this specialist population.
In addition to this, I volunteer at the Hospice in the Weald in Tunbridge Wells where I work with the outpatient exercise group and run cancer exercise groups for Nuffield Health.
BSc and MSc Sport and Exercise Science Degrees
BASES Certified Exercise Practitioner
Diploma Biomechanics Coaching including Low Back Pain
L4 CanRehab Cancer Exercise Rehabilitation
APPI Clinical Pilates
Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Rehabilitation
UKA Coach in Running Fitness
RSA Exercise To Music
Chair Based Exercise
British Cycling Breeze Ride Leader
Sports and Outdoor First Aid, CPR and AED
No-one should be scared to move, run or exercise. We should never feel that we're missing out on life, events or activities or unable to contribute to the world or do the things we love. I can relate to that feeling. I've been there and know how frustrating and vulnerable you can feel when unwell, in pain or injured.
I specialise in working with people with a wide range of medical conditions, injuries, aches, pains and challenges. I enjoy helping people overcome 'stuff'. In particular I love working with people with cancer, after bowel/stoma surgery, injured or burned out runners or people who want to move better and with more confidence.
I don't offer 'hands on' passive therapy, but instead empower you to take care of yourself. I teach you what your body needs and how you can help yourself with the right movements and exercises.
My personal story
And how it's shaped me and my work...
It was June 2010 and I was lying in A&E with 'off-the-scale' abdominal pain. 'I'm doing an Ironman triathon in 8 weeks' I said 'I'll be better by then right?'. The bewildered look on the surgeon's face said it all. There would be no Ironman. In fact at that point, staying alive was the only goal.
It turned out I had life-threatening peritonitis due to a perforated colon, was very poorly and had to have emergency surgery to remove a section of my large bowel. Part of the surgery meant having an stoma formed. Back then I had no clue what that was. I learned fast!
Most people know it as a ‘colostomy’ or having a ‘bag’. Technically it’s an ileostomy (the end of the small bowel is called the ileum) and it essentially bypasses the rest of your digestive system. It's both weird and incredible in equal measure.
Between 2010 and 2012 I was in and out of hospital countless times and had 5 major abdominal surgeries. Looking back I’m not entirely sure how I got through it. I do remember feeling desperately low, desperately ill and rock bottom (and very thin). In 2012 I finally had a successful surgery to have a permanent 'stoma bag' and could slowly learn to eat and exercise again.
Since then I've rebuilt my body and my confidence, and I wouldn't change my experience. It's taught me so much.
It's taught me how to train intuitively, be kind to myself and care for my body. It's one where I have far more gratitude for my health and being able to run. Running is a privilege. Not everyone is so lucky.
Since then I’ve gone on to run multiple marathons (31 at the last count), ultra-distance runs. The 100 mile stage run in the Himalayas in India and the Transrockies (120 mile stage run) in Colorado.
My experience has given me a unique level of empathy and understanding. It’s made me a better trainer and coach and taken me on a new journey into the world of rehabilitation, cancer recovery and clinical exercise. I wouldn't be here doing this work if it wasn't for my experience.
If you’ve always been fit, it’s impossible to understand just how hard it is when have a major illness. In many ways the cause of the illness or surgery is irrelevant. The roller coaster of treatment and trauma leaves it’s mark. You can choose to give in and give up, or you can dig deep and find a way to overcome the challenges and learn to go in a new direction.