“At 87, Pilates transformed my life, and I never thought I’d be saying that!” 
Meet Sue, the amazing woman who captured our imagination with her inspiring story of overcoming illness through exercise.
This is Sue's incredible story, as told by Sallie at Cheltenham Pilates and Yoga Studio:
Sue is the first to admit she is not a lover of exercise, in fact, she will tell you she has never done any at all. An ex-Wren, she brought up two children and worked for Whitbread for many years. Sue is an intelligent and determined woman. She has always been fun, vibrant and positive. Then two years ago, during a stressful time in her life, she fell ill. 'It was the most horrendous pain I’ve ever known. I was literally crying with the pain. I could barely move and was totally dependent on my daughter for several weeks. At my age you imagine 'that’s it' - you will never get better - and I have to admit it really got me down.'

Sue’s daughter, Lesley, helped her to keep moving but Sue had lost some of her legendary tenacity. A friend of the family suggested trying Pilates to improve mobility and strength, and so Sue booked a couple of half-hour sessions.
'It took a bit of bullying from my daughter and my friend and they more or less made me come along, but straight away it felt good to be doing something.'

'It took me a few sessions, but then I started feeling stronger, my balance was better, and I felt confident enough to stand up without any support. Basically, I got my independence back.'
'I really do feel fitter and stronger than I’ve felt for years. Now I’m determined to hang on to that new-found strength, which is why I’ve continued for nearly 18 months to come twice a week.'

Sue's Pilates instructor, Jess, said: 'When I first met Sue she was walking with a stick and had very limited movement and constant pain. She seemed to pick up Pilates so quickly and we found a programme to suit her needs. It’s an absolute pleasure to see her amazing improvement. She still comes to us twice a week, and she is a joy to teach.'

After reading Sue's amazing story, we were desperate to meet her! It also happened to coincide with the launch of our new activewear range, designed for optimum performance by our garment technologist, Emily, who is a keen sportswoman, frequently running half-marathons, cycling up the Malvern hills and walking her dog.
Our new activewear range is made from a specially designed technical fabric which is durable, wicks away moisture, stays fresher for longer and is easy to wash and dry. With this in mind, we asked Sue if she'd like to try it out.
Sue was delighted at the prospect so we met her at Cheltenham Pilates and Yoga Studio, where she practises twice weekly. Filled with natural light, beautiful wood interiors and plants that grace the corners of this open and welcoming space, it made an ideal location to shoot in.
As we arrive, we notice that Sue happens to be wearing one of our yellow t-shirts, which she assured us is still going strong after countless washes over the years. Unbeknownst to us, she is a loyal customer, who recalls shopping in our Cirencester store, our Spirit of the Andes concessions and reports that she is very impressed with the quality of our clothing, which is one of the reasons she stopped shopping at the high street brands in the 1990s when they lowered their quality and she hasn't looked back.

Sue quickly put our activewear to the test. She said the tops were made from a 'lovely, cool fabric' which was perfect for exercising in. She not only liked the softness of the trousers and jacket but also the stretch fabric which made them comfortable to wear and easy to move in. The grey hue also really brought out her tan, emphasising her healthy glow. She liked the lilac-grey performance top most of all, as it was 'just my colour'.

Sue's vitality and enthusiasm are infectious. She happily chats with us about her hobbies and interests: alongside Pilates, she goes for lots of walks in the countryside with her daughter, takes herbal supplements and has her hands full looking after her daughter's Basset Fauve de Bretagne puppy, which we immediately fell in love when shown a photo. She is also working her way through the TV series Suits, on Netflix.
We ask her if there are any other secrets to her success, as she still lives life to the full, enjoying her favourite breakfast of bacon and eggs but no bread and with her favourite tipple, tea. She says that the reformers (the machines she exercises on) are her favourite and 'actually quite easy' and since starting Pilates just 18 months ago she has lost a couple of stone!
And of course, we had to ask her where her favourite place in the Cotswolds was! It is the small village of Daglingworth and its beautiful 11th-century church, which holds lots of special memories for Sue, as it is where her late husband is buried and where her daughter was married. She was a church warden there and recalls the beautiful windows and floral arrangements.
It's incredible to think that only a year ago this wonderful lady couldn't get out of her chair without assistance!
We're off to book our Pilates class...
With enormous thanks to Sallie at Cheltenham Pilates and Yoga Studio for all her help and allowing us to use her story about Sue, to Jess and of course, to Sue herself, an amazing model and all round inspiring lady.
Cheltenham Pilates and Yoga Studio hold classes for all ages and abilities - take a look here >
Do you have a story of overcoming illness through exercise or has this story also inspired you to take up a new activity? We'd love to hear it! Let us know by leaving a comment using the box below.
To view our full range of activewear click here >
For more interesting updates and special offers, sign up for our email newsletters here >