Derick takes steps to a fitter future

Active: Derick Wilkes gets to grips with gym equipment.
Active: Derick Wilkes gets to grips with gym equipment.
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A MAN who was once unable to walk to the end of his street is taking strides to a happier, healthier future after battling through the pain of arthritis to lose five stones at the gym.

Derick Wilks from Grimesthorpe was forced to give up his job as a joiner after being diagnosed with osteoarthritis, gout and hypertension.

Tipping the scales at 21 stones, Derick couldn’t walk five steps without getting out of breath and daily tasks like gardening or walking down the stairs would cause pain and take a long time.

The 63-year-old then turned to food to cheer himself up while his wife, Shirley, 59, was at work and his confidence plummeted.

Derick said: “I tended to just sit in the house and mope about.

“Having arthritis knocks you back, especially at work. The nature of my job meant I had to be down on my knees but I couldn’t get up again because of the arthritis. Then I would transfer my weight from my knees and damage my back.

“It’s a horrible feeling watching your wife go out to work and thinking it should be you doing that. It made me feel like a second class citizen.”

It was after reading an article in The Star about the GP referral scheme operating with Concord Sports Centre in Shiregreen that Derick decided something had to change.

The system works by offering patients a 12-week reduced rate at the gym to allow them to take part in low intensity exercise. In his case, he worked with fitness specialist Dave Birds to build his mobility, muscle strength and aerobic capacity - all techniques proven to help with the symptoms of arthritis.

Along the way, Derick lost 5.5 stones in just nine months, after becoming a gym member once the 12 weeks were over: “Exercise doesn’t cure arthritis completely but now I can go in the garden without suffering back pain.

“I go for walks by the canal for an hour, and I’m more confident because I look smarter.

“I’m really thankful to Dave, I enjoy going to Concord seeing the other customers.

“I never went to the gym but I would encourage anyone with arthritis to do exercise because it really does help, especially if you lose a bit of weight.”

Dave said: “People who have arthritis are often scared to exercise because they think they will hurt themselves when, really, the condition will only get worse if people don’t get moving.

“Arthritis affects people of all ages and fitness levels but one of the most crucial things to do is to stretch the muscle to increase flexibility around the arthritic joints.

“It’s pleasing to hear that now some people come through Concord’s doors not because they are told to by their doctors, but because they’ve heard of what we do and they want to help themselves. I encourage people to think about exercise to improve their health because the GP referral scheme we run at Concord provides vital support and knowledge which has the ability to change people’s lives.”

For more information on the GP referral schemes at Concord, Hillsborough or Ponds Forge leisure centres contact Dave on 0114 2574426.