AN arthritis-sufferer who was told he was too heavy to undergo surgery has lost more than 13 stone - with the help of a local gym.

Garry Heil, 62, desperately needed surgery on his hips and knees, but at 31.5 stone he was not able to undergo the procedure.

Garry embarked on a fitness journey with the help of staff at Total Fitness in Altrincham, and has now dropped to 18 stone, has improved mobility, and has drastically reduced the amount of medication he needs to take.

He said: "At the peak of my struggle I was being prescribed 27 tablets which I took daily to manage the pain.

"It became increasingly difficult to stay in shape and I wasn’t shown how to exercise with my condition, so I quickly began to pile on weight.

“By the time I hit 43 I was 31.5 stone and desperately in need of a number of operations to help alleviate the arthritis in my hips and knees.

"Unfortunately, there are BMI restrictions for operations to treat non-life threatening conditions, and at this point in time I was over the limit, meaning I couldn’t undergo the surgery.

"This was the turning point when I realised I needed to get help to become a healthier version of myself."

Garry says he has been a member of gyms in the past but didn't find the support he needed until joining Total Fitness in Altrincham.

He said: "It offered everything I wanted – great equipment, lots of space, a supportive network of staff and perhaps most importantly for me, a hydrotherapy pool and steam room.

“My sports rehabilitation physiotherapist worked out a programme to help me manage the pain and gave me simple exercises to do in the hydro pool. For the last 12 years I have been going to Total Fitness every morning and I spend 30 minutes running in the pool.

"At first people thought I was mad for running in the pool rather than swimming, but my mobility has improved tenfold; I no longer need my crutches or a stick to get to the gym. My strict exercise regime coupled with key changes to my diet and lifestyle has changed my life.

“I’m now down to 18 stone which means, thankfully, I qualify for the surgery that I was previously refused. I had the first operation on my hips last year and it’s been a god-send. The number of daily pain relief tablets I take has now reduced from 27 to just four."

Garry hopes to have an operation on the first of his knees this year, with a second planned in the near future.