Squad rise to the challenge

WHEN 20 Evening Star readers signed up for our 12-week fun fitness programme called Spring Into Summer, they didn't know quite what they had let themselves in for.

By Tracey Sparling

WHEN 20 Evening Star readers signed up for our 12-week fun fitness programme called Spring Into Summer, they didn't know quite what they had let themselves in for.

Week Two brought an early challenge to their adventurous spirit, as features editor TRACEY SPARLING reports.

IT was only the second week of Spring Into Summer - and already we were driving each other up the wall!

Well when you're faced with a range of eight-metre high climbing walls for the first time, you need all the encouragement your friends can muster.

So it was a case of cheers and applause all round, as the first intrepid Spring Into Summer members jumped into action at The Copleston Centre in Ipswich on Sunday.

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Strapped into harnesses and attached to a safety rope, there was no way the team of instructors from The Leading Edge climbing club were going to let us fall. This was an opportunity to learn a whole range of new skills and build muscle tone. We could go as high - or stay as low - as we liked, and there was also a 'boulder wall' to practice traversing across a rock face, rather than find a way up it.

Once on the wall, there was no room to lose concentration, and you soon got to know which ledges were easier to haul yourself up by.

Sometimes it took a giant leap of faith to reach further than you thought was safe, to grab the hand hold which you then found opened up a whole new route to make progress.

There were a few scared faces but in the end everybody had a go, and several people surprised themselves with what they achieved.

Ezenna Hoy, 34, from Sidegate Lane, Ipswich immediately showed a flair for the sport, as she headed up four different routes seemingly without fear.

After she abseiled down elated, she said: “That was good, I tried to do the overhang too, but that was really difficult.”

Hospital housekeeper Sue Beeston, 51, from Blyth Close, said: “I'm glad I did it - it's definitely a challenge, but I found it was good once I got used to it.”

The Star's design editor Jonathan Elsey said: “I surprised myself - I certainly didn't think I'd manage the overhang but I did, and it was a real sense of achievement as well.”

He fell off the wall, and added: “The instructor said he saved my life - twice!”

Lorry driver Peter Chenery, 48 from Renfrew Road, said: “It's not something I would dream of coming to do normally. The ropes make you feel so safe, and the walls are really well designed for beginners. “Coming down was the easiest bit!”

Today Star reporter Kate Boxell was among many of us still aching. She added: “My arms are still killing me!”

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To keep the momentum for exercise alive in between Spring Into Summer events, Swallow Belstead Brook Leisure Club gave the squad swimming vouchers to use on a weekly basis.

Courses are run by qualified instructors and equipment is supplied. They run for half a school term.

There are courses for:

Pebbles: Seven to ten-year-olds Wednesdays 3.45pm to 4.45pm £3 per session. A new group starts Friday April 21 at £18.

Rocks: 11-16 year olds Wednesdays 5pm to 6.30pm £4.50 per session. A new group starts April 19 for £27.

Introductions: 14 year olds to adults, two sessions to be arranged as required £40.

Fun sessions: Age seven to 80 maximum eight people, an hour and a half, to be arranged as required, £60

One-to-one lesson: £35 per hour.

Call 01473 274178 or see www.coplestoncentre@copleston.suffolk.sch.uk.>

Do you know how many chocolate biscuits to cut out, to lose 1lb of weight?

Or how many tablespoons of vegetables make up one of the five portions of fruit and veg you are supposed to eat every day?

Practical answers to dieting dilemmas, were addressed by Ipswich Hospital dietitian Kathryn Sutton in an hour's talk before the climbing lesson.

The talk followed the squad completing three-day food diaries to identify how they could improve their diets.

Kathryn taught the group about the importance of the five basic food groups: fruit and veg (two or three tablespoons is one portion) carbohydrates, protein, dairy, and sugars and fats, and what proportion of your diet each should be.

You need to balance your body's daily energy intake and output. Kathryn said: “You only have to be 100 kcals out for a month to put on weight, so it's worth being aware of the balance needed.”

You need to burn 500 kcals a day to lose 1lb of body fat.

Eg: 100kcals input is two chocolate biscuits or half a pint of bitter.

100kcals output is 20 minutes of cycling, 55 minutes walking, or one hour and 15 minutes of playing snooker!

Name: Rob Willows

Age: 36

Lives: Pinmill Close, Ipswich

Occupation: Unemployed

Q: What do you hope to achieve with Spring Into Summer?

A: This is part of getting healthy. My other half says I am not getting any younger and my daughter Syan talked me into it. She is 13 next month. I gave up smoking about three months ago and I think that is part of the reason I have been putting on weight. My daughter said to me 'You're going to die before you are 50 if you don't give up smoking and get healthy.' She is quite sensible and told me she really wanted me to get healthy.

Q: What stopped you getting fit in the past?

A: I have a long term disability following a motorcycle accident. I had to have pins in my legs and I was bedridden for six months. I was healthy before my accident and I used to do a lot of weight training but after the accident I got myself out of shape and I never really got myself back into shape again. I started mountain biking last year and I do five or six miles a day when the weather permits and when I can.

Q: Have you tried any sports before, and how did you find them?

A: I went weight training and circuit training and when I was really young, at high school, I used to be a cross country runner.

Q: How are you getting on with the group?

A: I know a couple of people here and I have talked to a few others and everyone seems friendly enough. I think everyone has their own individual challenges.

Q: Is weight loss part of your aim? If so, how have you tried before and did you fail or succeed?

A: I think I do need to lose weight. I think I am just under 16 stone and last time I weighed myself I was 11 stone.

I never had to battle with my weight when I was younger and I used to eat and eat and eat. I have never felt the need to diet before.

Q: How has the nutrition advice helped?

A: We looked at labels on packaging and some of that quite shocked me. I have a lot more than the recommended daily allowance. I hope the nutrition advice will help. I have changed white bread to brown or granary and I have skimmed milk.

Q: What is your favourite food and is it good for you?

A: Pasta. In moderation.

Q: How have you found Spring Into Summer so far?

A: I have found it okay so far. The climbing wall looked daunting but I gave it my best shot.

Rob has two special reasons to get fit and healthy - his daughter Syan and son Samuel - spurred on by his other son Nathaniel.

Although it was Syan who persuaded her dad to take part in Spring Into Summer, Samuel is more reliant on his father's health and fitness.

The eight-year-old was recently diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome, a kidney disorder which causes him to retain fluid which makes his body tissues to swell.

Rob is taking part in a sponsored bike ride in the summer to raise money for Kidney Foundation and Ipswich Hospital in the hope it will aid other youngster's with Samuel's condition. Rob said: “Samuel retains water quite often and is on steroids. He goes to school but the thing is he has really bad mood swings and temper tantrums and it is a constant battle. It is a side effect of the steroids. “Hopefully it should clear up by the time he is a teenager but it could get worse and then he might have to go on dialysis.”

Samuel has spent a lot of time at Ipswich Hospital and his diet has to be constantly monitored to make sure he does not eat too much salt. His protein levels have to be tested frequently and if they increase dramatically he is immediately rushed to hospital.

The condition is rare, with only one in 5,000 people suffering from the syndrome, and Rob said there is little support for sufferers. He has contacted the chief constable of Yorkshire, whose child also has the condition, and they exchange tips via the internet.

In healthy kidneys, protein is kept in the blood, which helps the blood soak up water from tissues.

In nephrotic syndrome the kidneys' filters are damaged and let protein leak into the urine.

As a result, not enough protein is left in the blood to soak up the water.

The water then moves from the blood into body tissues and causes swelling often in the eyes, belly, and legs.

Name: Lynne Walker

Age: 42

Lives: Dales Road, Ipswich

Occupation: Hairdresser

Q: What do you hope to achieve with Spring into Summer?

A: I want to lose weight and get fit. I have got a holiday in July to Florida but really losing weight is just an ongoing battle.

The holiday will be our last family holiday really because the children are getting older.

Q: What stopped you getting fit in the past?

A: I have had no motivation really. I am not a lover of exercise at all. I have also had family commitments as I have two children Jack, who will be 18 next month and Sophie who is 16.

Q: Have you tried any sports before, and how did you find them? Not really. I do swim and I enjoy that and I also do some walking.

A: I hated PE at school and I tried to get out of PE lessons.

Q: How are you getting on with the group?

A: I'm getting on with the group all right so far. I am finding it a bit hard to mix as I'm not a mixer really but the people are very friendly.

Q: Is weight loss part of your aim? If so, how have you tried before and did you fail or succeed?

A: Lots of times - I have done Slimming World and Weight Watchers. I have had some success but all the weight goes back on again because I go back to my old eating habits. I need to live by myself really, away from everyone else and the temptations.

Q: What is your favourite food and is it good for you?

A: Crisps, I usually end up having a packet a day. I try not to because I know they are not good for me.

Q: How has the nutrition advice helped you?

A: The advice has helped and I am really going to try to change. I know most of what I am supposed to do and have read all the books, it is just keeping on with it.

Q: How have you found Spring into Summer so far?

A: It's been fine. I am looking forward to each week really and trying to do something different.

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