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Beccles gym helps patients get back on their feet with Anti-Gravity Treadmill which feels like you are on the moon

Alice Denham, who suffered a stroke, and has used the Anti-Gravity machine to help her recover.

Alice Denham, who suffered a stroke, and has used the Anti-Gravity machine to help her recover.

©Archant 2014

A state of the art running machine which makes you feel like you are walking on the moon has changed the lives of people recovering from medical conditions and injuries across north Suffolk.

Seasons Gym, Beccles now has a Anti-Gravity Treadmill to help people recover from injury or illness.
Alice Denman has used the machine to help her recover from a stroke. Alice with exercise referral specialist Charles Allen.Seasons Gym, Beccles now has a Anti-Gravity Treadmill to help people recover from injury or illness. Alice Denman has used the machine to help her recover from a stroke. Alice with exercise referral specialist Charles Allen.

The AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill uses technology created at NASA to allow people to walk or run virtually weightless, and Seasons Health Club in Beccles is one of only 150 places around the country to use the innovative piece of kit.

As well as boosting fitness, the treadmill has helped a stroke survivor regain her speech and a man with spinal injuries get out of his wheelchair to exercise.

The machine works by creating a bubble of pressurised air around the runner, which can effectively reduce your body weight by up to 80 per cent. A pair of special airtight shorts are zipped onto a bag on top of the treadmill. Exercise referral specialist Charles Allen said: “The machine is used a lot in the professional market. The nearest one is at Norwich City Football Club. But we’ve managed to apply it to support people with long term medical conditions or mechanical injuries to help them gain confidence and improve their fitness.

“The machine takes your body weight off the board to make it easier to exercise without putting to much pressure on your joints. We can take it down to 20 per cent of your body weight which is the equivalent to walking on the moon, which allows people to do things they wouldn’t normally be able to do.”

Seasons Gym, Beccles now has a Anti-Gravity Treadmill to help people recover from injury or illness.
Sarah Wilby with exercise referral specialist Charles Allen.Seasons Gym, Beccles now has a Anti-Gravity Treadmill to help people recover from injury or illness. Sarah Wilby with exercise referral specialist Charles Allen.

The machines usually cost £34,000 to buy, however the American-based company has loaned the machine to Seasons in Hungate Court, to help them advance their medical research. People can be referred to use it by health professionals or can pay to use it for their own training.

Fifty-year-old Alice Denham of Beccles started using the treadmill after suffering a stroke as a result of a ruptured aneurysm in 2011. She was in intensive care for two weeks and lost her speech. Exercising on the machine and reducing the pressure on her muscles meant more oxygen could travel to her brain - helping her regain her speech. She said: “As a mother of three and with a full time job, I needed to be able to speak in order to go about my life.

“When you’ve had a stroke you need as much oxygen as possible to go to your brain to help it reconnect.

“Having this machine and exercise referral was so important to my recovery. I don’t know what I would have done without it.”

The machine has also helped 46-year-old Sarah Wilby of Beccles, who was born blind. She joined the gym weighing almost 18 stone in 2012, to help her lose weight and gain more confidence exercising. She has now lost seven stone. She said: “When I go out walking with my guide dog Neave I have to be careful about where I am and what obstacles might be in my way. But at the gym they can put me on the treadmill and leave me to get on with my exercise. I love it.”

The machine costs £3 to use for people who are referred, a price subsidised by East Coast Community Healthcare, or £5 for half an hour for personal use. For more information call 01502 470999.

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