#SimplyLikeMe – Dermot – Coventry Cannon Park – Back From the Brink, A Rehab Journey

In our next #SimplyLikeMe, Dermot shows us that anything is possible. She is a member of Simply Gym Coventry Cannon Park, and has been working with personal trainer, Gurdeep Sidhu!

Back from the brink-A Rehab Journey

In September 2018 I had three heart attacks on the same day and was admitted to hospital . The hospital worked to stabilise my condition and assess what treatment was required. After 10 days in hospital I had triple heart by- pass surgery.

I had played, coached and refereed rugby and would have described myself as ‘fat but fit’ ; I was training 3-4 times per week doing Insanity, Spinning and Circuits. My daughter is an experienced cardiac specialist nurse; she said that I was within 30 minutes of dying and that my residual fitness contributed to saving my life. My heart problems were caused by a combination of heredity, poor diet and high stress levels.

I left hospital 7 days after surgery and was given a ‘Rehab’ program by the cardiac specialists; week 1 required me to walk for 5 minutes twice per day. I was determined to follow the program but found it really difficult to come to terms with my weak condition and muscle wastage.

I was unable to walk for 5 minutes without stopping at least once. My initial walks were with a ‘walking buddy’.

After 6 weeks I was invited to Cardiac Physio sessions at a gym in Leamington Spa. As a result, I did 10 sessions of Cardiac physio under supervision of a physiotherapist and specialist cardiac nurses; this involved using a treadmill, bike and rowing machine at a basic level. These 10 sessions were done at ‘walking pace ‘ and were hugely frustrating; at around 13 weeks after surgery I felt as though I was making no progress and had no idea of my limits. I was also frustrated that few of my peers shared my mindset to get well and use the second chance I have been given

When I finished Cardiac Physio I was assessed and given a program to do at my own gym ; Simply Gym ; Cannon Park , Coventry. I selected personal trainer to support my rehab program. Previously, I had used personal trainers and being very competitive I worked to near ‘blackout’. This time I picked a personal trainer very different from my previous experiences.


I selected Gurdeep Sidhu who did a detailed assessment of my surgery, drug regime and extensive research on how to manage rehab from cardiac surgery.

Going through the process, I will not pretend the personal training has been 100% positive and enjoyable. Initially I was frustrated at my inability to replicate what I was previously able to do and felt I would never recover.There was also an underlying  fear that I would damage my heart or even worse if I over trained. My trainer helped me to articulate my fears and gave me some coping strategies based on her experience.

We began with Cardio and very low weights. Gurdeep trained me with a heart rate monitor and set limits; she also regularly measured my weight, muscle mass and fat content regularly to indicate progress. She gave me weekly updates and developed varied and progressive programs via email which allowed me to work on my own with a heart rate monitor.

Gurdeeps’ monitoring identified some issues with a fluctuating heart rate and advised me to seek specialist cardiac advice. Moreover, the doctors amended my drug regime and advised me to stop training for 2 weeks.

This interval was what was required; since this I have progressed every week and surprised myself. When I first started with my personal trainer the idea of doing press ups, running and burpees was as far away as the moon. My personal trainer supported this challenging journey by giving me realistic boundaries, proving a secure environment and challenging me. Most of all she has restored my confidence to a level where I now train without fear of my heart giving out.

Finally, with the right support and a positive mindset nothing is impossible.

Make sure to come and check out your local Simply Gym and see what we have to offer and the PTs available

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