Gym support key to gains

It takes guts and determination to recover after a life-threatening event. This week The Star reporter Simon Henderson uncovers how finding a gym community that cared as well as challenged was a game changer for stroke victim Greg Abbott.
It was November 2012 when Greg Abbott’s world completely changed.
He was 41, with three young children and working as a company manager when he had a massive stroke to the left side of his brain.

His partner Mireka van Looy said he lay in a coma in an intensive care unit for 10 days.

"The prognosis was pretty bad; they said the likelihood of surviving was very slim."

There was a strong chance he would not be able to walk or talk again, and be a "vegetable" for the rest of his life, Miss van Looy said.

Mr Abbott thanked his partner Mireka, saying she was wonderful and the amount of help she gave him was "unreal".

After finishing six months of rehabilitation Mr Abbott found it difficult to maintain what movement he had gained.

In 2016, Mr Abbott and Miss van Looy heard "through the grapevine" about Nick Chisholm and his Iron Warriors training programme run from Skyfit24 gym in Dunedin.

Mr Abbott now trains about three times a week, including weights, cross-training, cycling and stretching.

He can walk without a wheelchair and his mental health has improved.

"It’s hard work, but interacting and communicating helps working out," he said.

The emotional and mental support of the other Iron Warriors was as important as the physical workouts, he said.

Mr Chisholm, who has locked-in syndrome, said he was impressed by Mr Abbott’s commitment, aggression, perseverance and passion for Iron Warriors.

"He used to hate the gym, now he loves it. [He] comes three to four times a week."

It was important people who had a stroke were able to take back control of their own life and make decisions for themselves, Mr Chisholm said.

Miss van Looy and Mr Abbott said Skyfit24 owners Phil and Ange Chaney were amazing.

"They are so supportive and encouraging, and provide a great gym for us to work in."





Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter