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NAME: Sally Reynolds
LOCATION: Broome, West Australia
BUSINESS OWNER: Phoenix Fitness Broome
For Instructional Video on Core Basics Click HERE.
I became a Fitness Leader in 1990 when I realised that my goal of becoming a famous actress was not as likely as I’d first thought. I have worked continuously in the fitness industry since then sometimes as my full-time job and at others as a sideline. I’ve worked as a gym instructor, centre manager, personal trainer, group fitness instructor, course lecturer, anatomy tutor and gym owner.
Today I own and operate a Group Fitness, small group training and personal training studio in Broome. We have been open for 10 months and I’m looking forward to the business growing stronger in the next year.
I first became ill with what was initially diagnosed as ulcerative colitis in 1992 and after various forms of treatment couldn’t stop the disease progressing I eventually ended up having emergency surgery to form an ileostomy on December 23rd, 1999. So my Year 2000 celebrations took place on the top floor of Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. I did plead my case though and was allowed to have a glass of champagne because it was a “clear fluid”!
Biopsies taken during the surgery indicated that I actually had Crohn’s Disease which wasn’t the best news but by that stage, I was lucky to be alive so the only thing left to do was to get better and get on with life. Prior to the surgery, I had been teaching around 16 group fitness classes a week, running 3 times a week, lecturing on fitness leader courses, doing personal training and studying towards a Sports Science degree.
So would I still be able to get up in front of a class of people and take them through a workout? Would the bag show? Would I physically be able to do it? What if the bag came off? What could I wear so that I would be comfortable? So many questions. I didn’t actually know who to ask or where to go for information because I thought I was the only fitness instructor with an ileostomy.
Since then, a lot has changed. While I was quite open with people I considered “needed to know” about the bag there certainly wasn’t the same attitude towards stomas that thankfully exists today. I am still not brave enough to do the “bags out” thing but I have such respect for those of you who do.
What I did discover is that if you want something badly enough you will make it happen. I am a fitness leader and that is just what I do. And I’m a runner. So there was never any question that I would continue to teach classes, train people, train myself and run. In 2006, the year I turned 40, my goal was to run the Perth Marathon. I had done several fun runs and a few half marathons but had never done the big one and 40 seemed like the perfect age to do it! Training long distances in Broome was made a bit easier as my husband and I had the local gym at the time. But I didn’t just want to finish the marathon – I wanted to run it. Without stopping. So planning for potentially 4 hours without emptying the bag was an exercise in logistics and planning to the minutest detail. My last meal before the run was at 5 pm on a Saturday afternoon and I carefully hydrated without going overboard. The run started at 7 am so the final empty happened at around 6.30, in went a Windless tab and a final check that it was as secure as I could possibly make it. I am delighted to say that I was able to complete my goal of running at an average of 12km/hour for the entire 42.2km. I finished in 3 hours 24 minutes coming in 4th female overall and 1st female in the 40-44 age group.
Over the years I have had several surgeries – as many of us have. The most recent were last November at Fiona Stanley where my amazing surgical team spent firstly 8 ½ hours unravelling my “cocoon abdomen”, removing a pelvic cyst, re-sectioning another area of the small intestine, removing a stricture from the stoma and then refashioning the stoma. A further 2 hours of surgery 10 days later was needed as the pelvic cyst had reformed and I have formed some collections of fluid that had to be washed out. I had another small hiccup in March where the knot tying the internal stitches together had become infected but that was quickly and easily removed by my local hospital in Broome.
The reason this is significant is that despite all this, I have again been able to return to work in my fitness studio, am back running, lifting weights and training PT clients. I had to build up gradually and obviously, core training has been the last thing to be included back in my training program, but I’m teaching it again now and this week have taken 12 classes.
Being fit and active is extremely important to me and because I want to be able to run for the rest of my life, I need to make sure I train safely. This is what I’m passionate about. Making fitness fun and effective for everyone, regardless of training history, injuries, age or fitness level.