Finding a community through gentle exercise after surgery

Date: 5 August 2021   Author: Energise Me

Gloria shares how having a knee operation led to her start gentle exercise at Active Nation. She has found a sense of community and camaraderie that has kept her going through the loss of her husband.

Women doing gentle exercise on a machine (Active Nations)

*Image of Illustrative purposes only.


Having knee surgery

A few years ago I was due a knee operation. I used to walk back and forwards to work but could feel it getting worse and knew something needed to be done. A couple of weeks before my operation I saw an advert for Active Nation in my local newspaper.

It said that starting gentle exercise before surgery could help you build muscle and aid recovery, so I decided to give it a shot. I went for about two or three weeks pre-op. It’s a bit like a gym, but the exercise is gentle. There are machines you go on and they help move your body. After my operation I had physio but after 6 weeks I asked if I could return to exercise. The physio said it was a great idea so I headed back.

I’ve been going ever since, for about three years. I go every morning for an hour and I love it.



It does me good. I couldn’t do everything, to begin with, but Kenna, the manager helped guide me and explained how to do things. They helped me understand what was good for my knee and what I could or couldn’t do.

Eventually, I was able to give the bicycle a go. I was wary at first because you have to push your leg round the whole way. But gradually I was able to do it. I was so thrilled that day! I went “Whoopie!” and everyone clapped and said well done.

It’s little wins like that, that keep you going. You know you are improving all the time and that’s motivating.

There’s a real sense of camaraderie with everybody who goes. Everybody is so friendly and supportive.

Good for you mentally

It’s not just the physical side of things though. It’s great mentally. There’s a real sense of camaraderie with everybody who goes. Everybody is so friendly and supportive.

I’ve had down days, I lost my husband last year, and everyone is always there to cheer you up. Kenna always notices when I am quiet and pre-covid she would give me a hug and set me back on my way. If I know I am having a bad day I say to myself “Right I am off to do my exercise, that will make me feel better”.

As I spend all day at home alone, it’s so lovely knowing I can go along and I will see and speak to other people there. You get out of the house and you see people to talk to. We talk about all sorts, any topic or subject.


Staying active

Before I joined Active Nation I wasn’t really very active. My husband was very ill for about 4/5 years so we were in and out of Southampton General. We used to go out for walks down Milford-on-Sea, but he couldn’t go very far.

I don’t really like going walking on my own. I find it boring. During the lockdowns, I had to force myself to walk around the park near my house. I also don’t really like going to the gym as I get bored and you have to work hard.

After lockdown, I couldn’t wait to get back to Active Nation. I don’t really see it as exercise anymore. I just want to be there with other people. The activity is just a side effect of that and it doesn’t feel like hard work but you move your whole body.

It’s the setting, you see. I think that’s just as important as the activity. Being able to go out and go somewhere and you know you are going to meet people that day.  

Community and camaraderie

I know the exercise is doing me good but it’s about seeing people as I am in the house on my own all the time. It’s the setting, you see. I think that’s just as important as the activity. Being able to go out and go somewhere and you know you are going to meet people that day.

One of the best things is you don’t have to wear special clothes or anything. You don’t get a sweat at the end of it. You can just turn up in your normal clothes and normal shoes and give it ago.

It doesn’t matter what you’ve got. Not everyone has had surgery. Some people have had a stroke or have MS, but we all give it a go together.

Feeling inspired?

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