Tribute to Yvonne

Tribute to Yvonne
Yvonne Pratt died this week at 81.
Yvonne was one of my first ever clients with my personal training. She called me up one day with the softest, quietest voice, I had to check if anyone was on the other line.
Little did I know that Yvonne was recovering from Chemotherapy. I debated whether to start her as her problems were lengthy, but my business was young and individuals with great physical challenges seemed to come my way early.
This made me so careful now, the sheer numbers of things that could go wrong if you didn’t research someone’s problems.
Yvonne had a lifetime of ill health. She told me of the times as a child she was sent to the earliest versions of health farms. There was no science in getting fit then when she was a child and young adult, it seems often like bad guesswork that seemed to only make yvonne worse. She had regular injections of all sorts of drugs without much success.
Physical activity was not something her body tolerated too well.
Yvonne was my quickest learning lesson/a great experience. No matter how many studies I did, nothing prepared me for her.
Exercise is a stress on your immune system, a positive one for most. In Yvonne’s extremely low level of immune system, exercise in large amounts could be dangerous.
Our first session was 5 minutes, I am deadly serious, and she almost couldn’t breathe after the lightest of efforts. She was in bed for 3 days after the session and I was ultra-careful.
Next week was 7 minutes, in bed for 2 days.
A month later she was up to 15 minutes and in bed for just one day.
Fast forward two years later, and Yvonne would easily handle 5kg dumbbells on all exercises, do step ups, boxing vigorously and despite the odd relapse, she was proud of her physical achievements.
I soon formed a great friendship with Yvonne, and indeed Milan, her American husband from California. Yvonne met him after catching a 6 week “banana boat” to the Caribbean sent by her father to “gain more experience” living with her relative.
For all her physical frailty, she was a true adventurer and always encouraged me to be the same.
Yvonne would have a hot baked potato with peanut butter ready after every session in their Swiss valley home (they later moved to the Bryn).
Whenever I had a cancellation I would call at their home if I was in the area and had the most incredible of welcomes.
Yvonne was herself a successful business woman, having had a card shop by the old YMCA in llanelli. Her father had run Reginald Watson, the only school wear shop in Llanelli that many of you will remember.
She taught me a lot about business, the need to work hard, keep your standards high and to treat people incredibly well.
Her stories about living in Nassau, the Bahamas were legendary.
I will say this cliche but it is true, I can’t think of a more gentle, more genuine, more caring person, and it was with true sadness I was told of her passing.
Yvonne Pratt RIP, and thanks for all you gave me in all ways.

Wednesday, 15th March

Post traumatic stress disorder is something you probably know affects many people in the forces, and in this case was referring to US army veterans who had seen many conflicts.

The study started when the soldiers were back in the hospital in the US. Their disorder was so bad that some had failed to talk-for 5 years! That’s quite a thing on its own, quite how much they had withdrawn into themselves was startling and deeply disturbing after witnessing the ravages of war.

A radical experiment got them to be more active. In this case, they were taken out to sea by a surfing instructor. The men were being taught to surf, they didn’t really want to go but they managed to get them in the water.

Within literally 5 waves crashing over them, some men starting smiling and laughing, which according to the nurses and doctors present was the first time they could remember it happening.

Within 30 minutes, many of the group uttered their first words since they had been in the hospital (5 years ago).

The benefits continued to get better the more sessions they spent being in the water, and being active in general.

Most treatment for anything to do with the mind starts with exactly that-treating the mind and often medication.

A growing movement around the world by doctor’s and think tanks to create real change focuses on the subject getting active and moving more first.

There are numerous studies to show that you think more positively when you are exercising, being more active than when you are staying still and contemplating a solution or lack of it.

As the soldiers showed, whilst not completely solving their many problems, they got them on the road to a better future, getting them back “to live life” and hopefully in a place where they can make better and more empowering decisions about their future.

Get active, celebrate your ability to think more clearly and enjoy the opportunities that brings.