After losing all sight in his left eye and suffering deep anxiety, Aaron’s enjoyment of physical activity and nutrition has helped him lose nearly five stone since first lockdown

After losing all sight in his left eye in 2013, Aaron Slade’s life flipped upside down.

A successful chef for over 18 years, he woke up with an unexplained black dot in his left eye and after going to the doctor right away, was diagnosed with birdshot, an incredibly rare condition and form of eye inflammation.

Birdshot can affect both eyes and cause deterioration very quickly, and Aaron was quickly rushed to surgery.

Unfortunately, all vision was lost in Aaron’s left eye and while they managed to save his right eye, he’s technically declared blind and was left with vision that he describes as ‘looking through black net curtains on an icy window’.

His loss of sight meant he could no longer do the job he loved and he spiralled into an incredibly challenging time for his mental health.

“Getting birdshot was incredibly hard but it was my mental health that suffered the most,” said Aaron. “There were times that I felt like giving up and I was all alone, even though I had my friends and family around me. I had psychosis and was hearing negative voices and had deep feelings that I was being watched wherever I went. Not feeling safe in your own home is an awful feeling which is amplified further by having very little vision.”

After being assigned a mental health worker to support with his recovery, Aaron was introduced to Anytime Fitness Truro in 2018. After initially attending alongside his health worker, Aaron developed the independence to go alone and after seeing the benefits, made a number of changes to his lifestyle.

“Since I started going to the gym, it caused a complete lifestyle change for me and I’ve quit drinking and smoking. I took up studying diet and nutrition which further made me realise just how much physical and mental health were linked. At times I didn’t feel safe at home, but I felt safe at Anytime Fitness.”

However, despite this change in lifestyle, Aaron admitted that he wasn’t using the gym to its full effect and it took a moment of realisation in the first national lockdown that it was time to put everything he’d learned about exercise and nutrition into practice.

“In lockdown, I got a glimpse of what I actually look like. I was up to 16½ stone and it was time to do something about it. I’d bought some fitness equipment ready for lockdown and the confidence and the knowledge I’d gained from being at Anytime Fitness and studying nutrition meant I was able to apply this and get back to the gym and do things properly in July.”

Since the first lockdown, Aaron has lost close to five stone and after taking control of his health with physical activity and nutrition, has turned his life around.

“Thanks to Anytime Fitness Truro, I’m back on track physically and I’ve never felt fitter and healthier. I know I’ve had support from the mental health team and my doctor, but Anytime Fitness has been equally involved in me getting to where I am today. The gym is so well maintained and the staff, cleaners and members are all so considerate. People see me come in and they’ll move stuff out the way. It’s so nice and welcoming for me. I’d never join any other gym.”