All change please, all change.


Change – it is one of the things we must get used to when living with a long-term health condition. I can attest to the fact that it can hit you on an otherwise normal Thursday afternoon at 2:30, often without warning. I can also share that change isn’t always bad as it can lead us into new opportunities, situations and awareness.

I have had to get used to a fair bit of change over the last few years. It started with the stroke which cost me the sight in my left eye in February 2016, then escalated in March 2017 when I was diagnosed with endocarditis. Emergency open heart surgery, two months in hospital, the loss of much of my physical capacity and then being forced to close my rehab studio due to the debt… was definitely a bumpy year.  There were points when it looked possible that I wouldn’t survive.

Yet here we are 18 months later. I have regained so much control, redefined my business and rebuilt my health. I have also had plenty of time to think on what I still want to achieve in life, and the legacy I want to leave. What has become apparent is that I no longer have the resilience to do it all.  I have cut my working hours to be bare minimum, but still come home physically and mentally worn out.


I am like a chameleon and it is time to change!

I have therefore come to the very reluctant decision that the Merlin Fitness studio will close on 14th November and I will not be running any more classes after that date. The business itself will continue, but in a different guise. I don’t know exactly what comes next for me, but some time away in Florida until the new year will be my opportunity to think and make plans.

I have never been one to admit defeat, and I have resisted making this decision for so long. In my heart of hearts (pun intended), I know it is the right thing to do. It is time to enter a new phase of life. Am I scared? Yes. Will that stop me? No. As Susan Jeffers wrote, I need to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway!’

If my life experience has taught me anything, it is that I need to be prepared to get uncomfortable if I am to evolve.  Much as there is a part of me that wants everything about my life to stay the same, I equally recognise that is not going to leave me feeling challenged or fulfilled. Comfort and complacency are not necessarily my friend and can only lead to a mediocre life where I fail to live up to my full potential.

I have been going through the motions for a while, partly to avoid coming to a decision. It is no secret that my classes do not make money and are break even at best, and realistically I am unable to work more hours to change that situation. I have been waiting for inspiration, but it now seems right to be proactive rather than wait for circumstance to force my hand.

Awareness of mortality

I want to make the most of my life and leave a tangible legacy. Living as I do with variable health, I have had several big lessons that the future is not guaranteed. The capabilities I have today could be gone tomorrow. The sight in my left eye disappeared over the period of a few days and cannot be restored. In the figurative and literal blink of an eye, everything changed. I don’t want to wait for the next crisis to force me to try something new.

Yet this is not a story of sadness or self-pity.  So many positives have come out of what could have been big traumas in my life. It may surprise you to know that I wouldn’t change any of it. I am happy and grateful for it all as it has made me the person I am today.

Letting go isn’t easy. Many of my clients have become my friends over the last 6+ years, and I hope that in some way our paths will continue to cross. I have always believed that the more I give in life, then the more I receive in return, and this has certainly been true with the inspiration and support which I have received. That said, I know that someone else will be able to admirably fill my shoes, and that a new routine will be good for us all.

Very few people like change. I am an absolute creature of habit, from the food I eat, the daily routine I keep, the clothes I wear and a whole lot more.  But those same habits can also trap me and leave me stagnant and unfulfilled. I am finding the positives and am determined to see what I can learn from this experience.

It is going to take some adjustment, but I have a funny feeling that my life will end up even better. There is a well-known saying, variously attributed to Henry Ford, Tony Robbins or W L Bateman, ‘If you keep doing what you’ve always done, then you will keep on getting what you’ve always got.’

Embracing a new future

I am ready for something new so forcing myself to embrace this change. It is only by accepting it, and whatever it brings with it, that I have can grow and improve. If it turns out that my old plan was good, then I can always go back!

I will truly miss my classes and that happy routine. At the same time, I know that other, equally wonderful things are just around the corner. Only by shutting this door behind me will I be able to see the light at the end of the room.

This is far from a goodbye, but rather a see you soon. If you choose to do so, please do stay on this mailing list so you stay apprised of what I am up to next. I have tentative plans for a walking group and for some other ways for all my current clients to stay connected. If you haven’t been an active part of the Merlin Fitness family before now, it may be that you will be in the future. Of course, I will still be sending my monthly updates and writing these blogs as I have so much feedback that they are appreciated.

My Upbeat Warrior online group continues to evolve, and I have plans to add so much more in that community. If you are living with a long term health condition and haven’t joined yet, here is the link to do so. Our Facebook group is growing, and in the background, I have been working on a new website, online course, podcast and retreat. If nothing else, this change will allow me space to drive that project forwards.

I haven’t entirely ruled out coming back to teaching my groups at some point, but there are other things I want to explore first.  In the meantime, for my current class attendees, I have a list of other cardiac and pulmonary classes in the Plymouth area, and some pointers towards low-level fitness classes available to all. Just ask when you are next in the studio.

It is not unusual for change, particularly that which is forced upon us, to knock us off course and lead to overwhelmingly negative thoughts. I know that at certain crossroads in my life, I have wasted time feeling resentful or trying to re-create the old me, rather than simply embracing the new.

Not this time. This change, although sad, is on my terms. I am quietly confident that this potential step backwards will in fact lead to a giant leap forward. I can’t wait to share what I am learning as I go through this evolution, as with a bit of luck it will inspire some of you to make your own leap and try something new.

I would love to know your thoughts and share your stories.  What has change meant to you? What positive things has it brought into your life? What have you done when life has thrown you a curved ball and you have been forced to adapt?

Until I write again, stay upbeat!


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