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.