Ex-Pilot Faces Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Louise Heap

Life Time Summerlin, NV | Member Since 2016

“The added strength has increased my ability to cope with the bad days.”

My name is Louise Heap and I am 35 years old. Originally from the UK, I would like to tell you my story.

I used to be a C-130J pilot in Her Majesty's Royal Air Force. I served in Afghanistan and Iraq, flying in and out of theatre, transporting people, munitions and supplies. In December 2008, whilst serving in Afghanistan, I was struck with an illness that I never quite recovered from. I returned home on completion of my tour and was unable to carry out simple tasks like walking up the stairs. I had always been fit and regularly attended the gym, but could now barely stand long enough to walk into the next room. I was eventually diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). What followed was an incredibly long journey of rehab, graded exercise therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy. I experienced long periods where I would be unable to leave my bed and then get a day where I would feel great, so would hit the gym and run to the point of exhaustion and cause myself to crash again. This went on for many years and I unfortunately had to leave my job as a pilot in the Air Force.
As exercise was helping, I trained to become a Personal Trainer. This helped with my overall fitness and gave me the structure and routine to be able to slowly recover. However, my real recovery started when we moved to the US in 2016.

My family and I arrived in Las Vegas on June 29th 2016 and we joined Life Time gym on July 1st. We didn't even have a house! But it was top of my list of priorities!

With the help of Stephen, who led our introductory PT session, and weekly classes with Violeto, Nichola, Mary, & Ali (No limits Circuits, Spinning, Life Barre & Strike) I have built a daily routine which allows me to find that fine balance between managing my CFS and challenging my body. I have gained a stone in weight, achieved a body fat percentage of between 16-17% and gained strength in places I never knew was possible. The added strength has increased my ability to cope with the bad days, which are, thankfully, few and far between, but has also enabled me to train for something which I never thought possible-Tough Mudder. Thank you Life Time, you have truly changed my life.

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