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Mishael Aklekar Crowned Welcome Gym Member Of The Year 2019

Mishael Aklekar Crowned Welcome Gym Member Of The Year 2019

Earlier this year, we asked for applications from and nominations for members, who had achieved something special over the past year in terms of their fitness trials and triumphs. As always, we received a huge number of inspiring, moving and uplifting stories about people who had overcome adversity, illness and the many other problems that life tends to throw at us, to become better, healthier and fitter versions of themselves.

As always, it was exceedingly difficult to choose the winners at each of our six Welcome Gyms around the country. It was even more difficult to select, from those six successful regional winners, one person who stood out as truly exceptional. Well, the decision has been made and we’re delighted to announce that the overall winner of the title of The Welcome Gym Member of the Year 2019 is Mishael Aklekar from our Cheltenham club.

As a plump child and teenager, Mishael faced constant criticism, teasing and downright bullying about her appearance and her weight. She was put off sport and exercise after being forced against her will to participate in gym sessions, by those that thought they had her best interests at heart. With low self-esteem, she turned to comfort eating, which led to more weight gain. Then began a vicious downward spiral of failed crash diets and pills, which combined with adverse events in her life, increased her anxiety and depression, for which she was eventually prescribed medication by her GP.

Despite feeling at rock bottom, Mishael realised that tablets were not necessarily the answer and that exercise might help her. So, she decided to take her courage in both hands, walked into the Welcome Gym in Cheltenham and joined up. The friendly welcome she received encouraged her to try a few classes, which she was surprised to find she actually began to enjoy and look forward to.

She then enlisted the help of personal trainer, Luke Owen, who is ideally placed to understand how low self-esteem can lead to weight gain, having himself lost close to 9 stone in the past, before he too found the transformative effects of exercise and healthy eating. She says, “Luke made me feel comfortable and pushed me just the amount I needed.” Over the past eight months, with Luke’s coaching and advice on nutrition, her weight has dropped by an incredible 4 stone, her depression has lifted, her anxiety has diminished and at last she is optimistic about enjoying a healthy, fit and happy future. She says, “I needed courage to put my health and wellbeing first, instead of expecting a quick fix. It was difficult and strenuous, but so worth it. Without my PT, Luke, I wouldn’t be where I am today. And thank you, Welcome Gym, for being one of the most supportive gyms and encouraging me”.

Mishael wins a year’s free gym membership, plus £150 in Nike vouchers and £600 in vouchers to spend on a fabulous holiday of her own choosing – all very much deserved! Mishael is evidently delighted to win and looking forward to choosing some stylish Nike fitness clothing to flatter her new figure and to keep her motivated, as she continues working out with her personal trainer, Luke. As her friend is getting married in Bali next year, her prize holiday vouchers will come in very handy too, and she is very excited about being able to join in the wedding celebrations and enjoy a relaxing break in that exotic location.

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