Emma Seal – My Story
I haven’t always had a career in the health and fitness industry; I spent 18 years in various roles within construction and engineering until 2013 when an accident changed the lives of our family.
One Saturday afternoon during a game of rugby league, my husband Mark took a heavy tackle. Not thinking anything of it (just putting it down to being too old at 35 for the game anymore), he came off the pitch and watched the remainder of the game, putting a can of beer onto his neck to soothe the pain, and once the final whistle was blown, had a shower as normal.
Still in pain sometime after, he went to A&E to get checked out and upon x-ray, it was discovered he had broken and dislocated his neck. This is when I had a call from the hospital to get there as soon as possible.
Most of this bit is a blur, like in the movies when the character is in slow motion and noise is just a hum. Now, up until this point, a broken neck to me meant that you were either dead or paralysed. I had no idea what I was going to be presented with when I got to the hospital. I dropped our young daughters off with my sister and drove to the hospital as quickly as I could.
On arrival, I was taken to Mark who was strapped to a hospital bed with his head in a large orange block to prevent any movement. I was told that due to the severity of the injury, any movement could damage the spinal cord and leave him paralysed at best. Currently, he had full movement of all his limbs and was extremely lucky but he needed an operation to stabilise his vertebrae to prevent it from getting worse.
1001 things are going through both our heads at this moment. We had a construction business to run, a team of people working for us and a project to be finished. What was I going to tell the kids? How would we manage with him in a wheelchair? How would Mark manage not being able to walk again? How could we keep our home if Mark couldn’t work and I had to become his carer?
After 16 hours strapped to the bed and a very slow ambulance journey, Mark was in Leeds to be operated on the next day. I went home for a shower and the whole incident hit me like a train. The house was empty and I sat in the bath crying as I’ve never cried before, frightened and overwhelmed.
Mark’s operation was successful and he was released home two days later with a neck brace that he couldn’t remove at any point for the next 12 months. We were told by the surgeon that normally with an injury as severe as this he should not be able to walk, he should be paralysed but his physique and strength had saved his life.
And that was it – Go home and do NOTHING for 12 months. We were both a little dazed and unsure of what had happened in the last 72 hours.
We tried to continue with our construction company, but I was trying to be a site manager, labourer, mum, company director as well as a nurse. It wasn’t possible to do it all and my family was my priority. Mark had become depressed within a short time of the accident. It’s very hard for a person so physically active to be told to sit in a chair and do nothing. We decided to close the business and concentrate on Mark’s recovery.
Due to his injuries still being volatile there was no rehab available for him. No one was brave (or stupid) enough to risk their career touching him. One day Mark said, “If I’m expected to just sit here for 12 months unable to move, you may as well give me a gun now!”. Not willing to see my husband deteriorate in front of me any further, I stepped in to help with the limited knowledge I had, working on his lower body strength and mental wellbeing.
We would go out for walks about the village where we lived, or a day trip window shopping, just to break up the monotonous days. My wheelchair driving wasn’t up to much so he used two crutches which kept him as stable as possible with no peripheral vision due to the restrictions of the neck brace.
Despite the difficult circumstances we were going through I loved caring for Mark and knowing that I wouldn’t be going back into our business, I realised that fitness and helping people was the career I had always wanted. Within 6 months we were back in front of the surgeon who was extremely impressed with his recovery, so I knew I was doing the right thing.
This is when studying began. I started with a level 2 Gym Instructor qualification which looks at nutrition as well as the anatomy and exercise techniques. This is the first step for anyone who goes into the industry, but for me, it was only ever going to be a stepping stone as I knew I wouldn’t be happy in a high street chain or local authority gym where members are often just another number.
I have been a member of one of these types of gyms in the past and found it impersonal. When I went I just tended to do the same thing each time because there was no-one approachable to advise me on anything different. This made me feel more self-conscious and as though it was, quite literally, a pointless exercise.
From qualifying as a Gym Instructor, I continued working full time and doing my studies for a level 3 in Personal Training, as well as Outdoor Training and Sports Conditioning. Like level 2, these courses look at the nutrition we need to live healthy, balanced lives as well as the anatomy and exercise principles, all in far more detail.
Learning more about how our body and mind react to exercise and nutrition sparked my passion further. Our bodies are fabulous machines and working in unison with the mind produces the signals we need to live in the best possible way. Unfortunately over the decades, we have lost the ability to read the signals of illness and trauma (both mental and physical), with the need for a pill or potion to be able to cure what we are feeling and expecting instant results.
The personal reasons I exercise are to clear and soothe my mind, de-stress and balance my emotions. The physical changes that come with that are a bonus.
Our world is so fast-paced, full of distractions and sources of foods that are in effect poisonous which means it can be very difficult to have a healthy balance. Add in all the conflicting information about diets, the latest fitness craze, and what’s good or bad for you, it can be very confusing.
I know many clients feel the same and I try to encourage them to regain a balance with their mind and body with my more holistic approach to health and wellbeing. I aim to streamline the information into a no-nonsense easy to grasp package, providing individuals with the best chance at being able to live the best quality of life for all their life.
What my clients say
I have never been this fit & healthy, my strength is going up every session with Emma & I can 100% see & feel the difference! Emma is an incredible trainer, I’m pushed to my limits, I ache in places I never knew could ache & I can do exercises now that no way I could do before! Hand on heart, signing up for sessions with Emma was the best decision I’ve ever made & I look forward to every session.
I love these classes, if anyone is looking for a class where you work hard then this is perfect. Emma is very knowledgeable & is a great coach. For years I’ve been struggling to find something that I love but I’m so pleased I found S.E.A.L Fitness
I started Outdoor HIIT with Emma at the beginning of summer, in the cold & wet! Emma was a great motivator pushing us through the dreary weather. Now it has brightened up & my fitness has increased I can really enjoy the different sessions Emma creates. They are inclusive & you work at your own level but always challenging & fun, she has some great concepts – best of all I come away feeling like I have worked hard & Emma has made it fun.
I have just completed 6 sessions, one a week, with Emma & have loved every minute. Each week brought new challenges & new exercises & I always left feeling tired but fab! I am so pleased with my results, far better than I had hoped for. My confidence has grown & my waist has shrunk.
If you’d like more information about my online training programme, personal training sessions or group classes, drop me a message using the contact form and I will get back to you.
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