Chris, the unsung hero of South Rings Leisure Centre
09 January 2024
As an organisation, we see amazing triumphs of personal achievements every day. Whether it's a Customer reaching their health goals or a family moving into their dream home, we exist to improve our Customers' lives. However, behind every landmark moment is one of our unsung heroes. One such person is our Places Leisure Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer, Chris Keegan.
Chris joined the Places Leisure Community two years ago, and over that time, he's seen so much personal growth from his Customers. However, one person in particular stands out.
Benjamin started training with Chris six months ago to improve his strength in his right shoulder. Until then, Benjamin had been suffering from severe shoulder issues and couldn't raise his right arm to a 90-degree angle for ten years.
"I related to him," Chris explained. Chris had experienced an AC injury in his right shoulder and a dislocation in his left years prior. "I was advised not to lift weights following my accident, but you never know what the human body is capable of. I trained myself to regain strength and mobility, and now I pride myself on enforcing good movement over big muscles to my Customers."
Over the space of six months, Chris worked with Benjamin on a programme of high frequency movement exercises to improve Benjamin's mobility before gradually incorporating resistance training to strengthen his joints and muscles.
Benjamin achieved the unthinkable thanks to his hard work and Chris' support. After six months of training, Benjamin raised his right arm for the first time in ten years!
"When it happened, I couldn't have been happier! I was just so proud because I knew how much it meant to Benjamin. I had taken previous clients down similar paths, so I knew we could and would achieve Benjamin's goal. But when he started to cry, there was nothing left to do but hug it out and let him know how proud I was," he explained.
"Of course, the gym can be about looking good, but exercise has a greater power – it gives people hope. It's taken me a long time to realise that I'm good at my job, but when I get the privilege of working with champions with hearts of gold, like Benjamin, I realise I'm in the right place."
Earlier this year, Chris was walking back to the Moor Park skate park, about six miles from Places Leisure's South Rings Centre, when he noticed his Colleague attending to a young man.
"The lad was on the floor with a crowd surrounding him. When I made my way to the front of the crowd, I noticed a bump on the boy's head – it was clear he'd sustained a head injury."
Chris then proceeded to check the young man's eyes for evidence of brain trauma. "I could see that one of his pupils was more dilated than the other. I knew right away that this was serious."
Chris was notified that there was a three hour wait for an ambulance, so Chris stepped in to save the day.
"I'm not a hero - I just did what was right. Anyone would have done the same in my position. It was just fortunate that I had been first aid trained and owned a car. I drove that lad to the hospital because I knew this was a serious incident."
The boy’s parents arrived at the scene in a taxi shortly after, just in time to help guide their son into Chris’s car to the hospital.
Following that incident, the boy's mother called the South Rings Leisure Centre, looking for the PT that helped her son. When she eventually found our unsung hero, she informed him of his heroic deed.
"She told me that her son, Phillip, had suffered a brain haemorrhage, and my quick decision to drive him to hospital saved his life.
"I won't lie; it was lovely for her to have told me that, but I just did what was right. No one tells you how to be a leader - you just are or you aren't. I knew I had to take the reins and take the lad to a medical professional, and I'm just so happy that I was there that day to save his life."
Chris' heroic actions are just one of many stories from across our organisation. We are a vast network of Community-conscious People who are trying to do our best for our Customers in all aspects of their lives. Chris' story embodies our People Promise of 'doing the right thing, always'. Through his brave actions and determination to help his clients, he has shown that anything is possible when you believe in yourself and what you can offer your Community.
The future looks bright for Chris. He’s currently studying for his CMI Level 3 Leadership and Management. Places for People is financially supporting Chris to achieve this goal to meet his full potential. We hope this support will help Chris and many others across the organisation to feel ‘fired up and ready to grow’.