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Depression Took Over My Life, Exercise Saved It

By David Saunders, Health Editor | UPDATED: 08:28, 05 June 2020

Gemma started experiencing symptoms of depression in her mid-twenties. Seven years on, the illness had taken over her life; she lost motivation and interest in things she previously enjoyed. It affected her social life as she stopped seeing friends and family and began to isolate herself as a form of protection. She knew that something had to change.

“It took four years for me to recognise that I needed help and when I finally got the medical diagnosis from doctors, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted,” says Gemma, 35. “I was immediately prescribed medication to help me manage my mood and while this did improve things somewhat, I knew I didn’t want it to be a long term solution for me.”


“The true turning point was when I felt completely on my own; I was single and living alone, a lot of my friends were moving on and I wasn’t in a happy place in my life. I didn’t feel like I was the true version of myself anymore. I decided I needed to completely overhaul my lifestyle in order to turn my life around and drastically improve my overall mental wellbeing.”

“I looked at various health clubs but decided to join the 12-week Total Loser programme which runs in the Total Fitness club facilities. It is designed for people who want to lose weight, tone up and ultimately change their lifestyle to become fitter, which is exactly what I wanted to do.”

“The weekly group training sessions are run by Pro-Fit personal trainers who I found really friendly and made me feel instantly supported. The great thing about a group session was that I didn’t feel like I was on my journey alone.


“Being new to fitness, I was able to understand the importance of health and nutrition more clearly. It can be quite daunting for someone completely new but the staff and personal trainers across Total Fitness and Pro-Fit are really approachable and knowledgeable.”

“Total Loser provided a fantastic support network, so much so that on the day of my first session I created a group WhatsApp chat to connect with other people from the session. It was a great way for us to push and motivate one another, and it led to us attending group gym classes together at Total Fitness which gave me the motivation to tackle exercise head on.

To this day I still keep in touch with the group, many have become great friends and a fantastic support network.”

“Exercise is now something that I ensure is factored into my week and even now if I miss a gym session, I feel a negative impact on my mental health. A regular training routine is helping me to continue on my journey to recovery and I couldn’t be happier.”

“My favourite group classes offered by Total Fitness are circuits and HIIT. I enjoy the camaraderie and extra motivation, which comes along with group classes as I really challenge myself to go the extra mile.

“It’s amazing to look back and see how far I have come after my depression. I’m now in a relationship and have a beautiful 18 month daughter and credit this to having a varied and regular exercise regime which helped to turn my life around.”

“Noticing the small changes exercise was having on my life made it so rewarding and I knew that I couldn’t go back to the dark place I was in before. I was able to turn my life around through nutrition, health and exercise and it was the best decision I ever made.”


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