Joining a Gym

I was wondering if anyone had experienced problems in joining a gym because of their asthma or other health issues?

I'm on long term steroids <insert rant about useless doctors and not trying more suitable treatment> and have put on quite a bit of weight. My exercise tolerance has also reduced. I decided I really wanted to do something about this, so tried to join the gym. I was totally honest about my asthma and to say they freaked out would be an understatement, and they wouldn't let me join.

I feel really stuck and caught in a bit of a vicious circle. I go swimming but wanted to do something else regular, that I could cope with and build up, with the aim of helping my weight gain and asthma so I could possible reduce my steroids. But they won't take me on and I don't have the option where I live of another gym - it's the only one for miles.

Anyone else experienced this or found a way round it?

19 Replies

  • Have your GP/consultant said it is ok to go to the gym? Because if they have said it is ok surely they can't refuse you.

  • My respiratory nurse is able to do referrals to am exercise scheme (she said a firm no when I asked as too uncontrolled at mo) so may be worth asking about something like that?


  • Yes, ask for a referral to your local exercise scheme.

    I have been referred by the community physio - it does cost apparently.

    I have had a chat with the trainer at our local leisure centre and haven't scared him so far.....

    I want to do swimming but if there is anything else I can do, I may take that up too.

    Hope this helps



  • Hi Ratty,

    I joined a gym a few months ago. I had to have an induction and was very honest about the asthma - triggers are allergies, exercise and some.

    The trainer was really good. He recommended I don't bother with distance or equipment settings but exercise around how I'm feeling and my pulse rate. This has worked really well for me. Of course, we're all different but it shows that some gyms do understand.

    Different gym? Maybe theres another that will help you work with the asthma?

    Good luck!

  • HI Ratty,

    If your GP and consultant are fine with you going to the gym, then presumably they actually think it's a good idea for you to exercise. Could you get one of them to write a letter for you to show to the gym, saying that it's ok for you to exercise, they want you to and maybe any precautions the gym should take? I'm guessing the gym's worried about liability but would have thought if you have a letter from a doctor saying exercise is approved they should really pay attention to that. And you could point out that you already manage to swim without too many problems.

    Good luck! If you do join - am sure you know this - but don't go mad esp. at first. Guess what I did to start with... Mine (LA Fitness) offered a free personal trainer session which was handy; would be worth asking what help they offer to get you started.

  • Hi,

    I too am on long term steroids and have a huge range of other health issues, I also have brittle asthma. I joined a gym this year and they have been fantastic. They look after me very well and have no problems with them. I go to their aqua care class and they make sure they have a lifeguard on duty that knows my health issues and knows what to do if I become ill during the session and also the gym have a copy of medical history and an action plan of what to do if I become ill in the gym. i got referred to the gym etc through vitality health referrals from my Gp and pharmacist, so I think that helped too.

    I had an induction with a trainer and he went through what I could use and how to use them etc and what to avoid in terms of my asthma, so as long as you can get an instructor to give you an induction and between you work out and come to some agreement on what to and what not to use that makes you breathless etc you should be fine.

    Good luck, sorry I have not been very helpful x

  • Thanks for all your responses. My GP referred me through the exercise referral scheme, as he said I would be fine and it would be good for me, but the gym turned round and said no. :( My GP is now writing a letter saying, 'erm, yes...'! :)

  • I'm glad to hear it Ratty, it sounds like the decision maker wants to wrap unwell people in cotton wool. Have they not heard of deconditioning making people even more unwell?!

  • Ratty wins!! :D

    Got a letter from my GP saying, erm, yes, can use the gym, signed, stamped and dated.

    Gym then had the cheek to say ""who wrote this?"" and in not so many words accused me of forging it :O They then rang the GP, dunno what the GP said, but you've never seen someone come back so apologetic!!

    I start at the gym tomorrow. Trainers are packed, wish me luck, I can see myself doing a Bridget Jones and falling off the bike or something equally silly. :)

  • Hi Ratty,

    I hope all goes well at the gym tomorrow. Good luck.

  • Take it gently ratty and build up slowly. Hope it all goes well. Good luck.

  • Oh my Ratty, can't quite believe someone could say that (actually I could being cynical) but good on you for sticking with it.

    Hope it goes well tomorrow.

  • Woop woop! Gooooooop Ratty!

    Glad you got it sorted, still pants they wouldn't take your word for it then had the cheek to question your gp letter.

    Lets hope it makes them think twice in future.

    Enjoy your 1st gym session :-D

  • Hi Ratty,

    Please keep us informed as to how you get on at the gym.

  • Well done Ratty and enjoy!

  • Think this gym is very lucky they're the only one around your area or they'd lose a lot of custom with that attitude! Glad you got the better of them in the end, hope you enjoy I!

  • I'm still alive ... I think! A bit sore in odd places though - wonder if I shall be able to get out of bed in the morning. Will put emergency supplies of chocolate by the bed, just in case. :)

  • Excellent idea Ratty! Always keep your medication within reach... ;)

    Hope tomorrow isn't too painful. I definitely found it gets easier after the first time.

  • I am so pleased that your gym session went OK. Well done.

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