Marie Barley - Fitness Instructor at Bushfield Court

Marie Barley is the Fitness Instructor at Bushfield Court in Bilston, Wolverhampton. Here, she tells us about her job…

Marie with resident Emily

I was taking part in a race on Sunday and when I reached a hill I thought: “I just don’t want to do this.” It’s times like this when I remember having to push and motivate gym members to achieve their goals which they struggled to do and I thought, "practice what you preach, head down, carry on!" Their achievements continue to be an inspiration.

I’m always encouraging the residents to take on new challenges, so I feel that I need to take on challenges myself. I regularly take part in Triathlons. I’ve been doing that for longer than I’d like to remember. I also work as a Sports Masseur working alongside both recreational athletes and those lucky enough to be representing Great Britain for both Duathlon and Triathlon.

I’m 51 now and have always kept fit. I’ve taken part in the London marathon five times, and other local and national events. I think keeping fit improves your general well-being. We all need new challenges, however large or small. That’s what makes the activities here so successful.

With ExtraCare I am given the freedom to develop new initiatives and ideas. I have taken courses that have helped me to provide a better service, including Nordic walking.

I have been here for 14 years. I saw it as a great opportunity to do some real good. There have been some memorable moments, like taking part in the Three Peaks challenge with residents, staff and volunteers. Those who couldn’t get to the top had activity challenges in the foothills. It was absolutely brilliant to see people when they came back from that event, it was as if nothing was insurmountable, they do anything. There was one woman who was terrified of water but she got on a boat and sailed to Britain’s most remote pub. She was terrified at first but on the way back she was asking if the boat could go faster.

My role involves running the gym and also the outdoor pursuits and walking groups.

I have seen lives completely changed. One gentleman feared he would never go out into the countryside again. He is part of the walking group now. Another man joined our riding for the disabled group. He said: “It’s the first time for 20 years that I have moved around and seen things without holding onto an aid to keep me upright.” Hearing something like that makes it all worthwhile.

We have people who come into the fitness classes and sing along to the music. It gives them a great feeling of well-being.

I’m lucky here. I have tremendous support from staff and some great volunteers.

I enjoy my job. It’s great.