Guide dog accompanies blind Sheffield woman to city gym

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Fitness instructors at a Sheffield sports centre have one extra body in some of their classes - a guide dog which accompanies a blind woman to her sessions.

Nicola Gardner works out at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre with her guide dog Keith at her side.

The 49-year-old, who has lost two-and-a-half stone since she started using the venue three years ago, is training to run a half marathon in aid of the Cathedral Archer Project, which supports the Sheffield’s homeless and vulnerable.

She visits the sports centre three times a week, taking part in boxfit and spin classes, as well as using the gym.

Nicola, from Waterthorpe, said: “The staff at Ponds Forge are lovely. They’re always happy to help and are so friendly, I always feel comfortable there.

“Becoming a member of Fitness Unlimited at Ponds Forge has helped me in so many ways – I’m walking a lot faster whilst not running out of breath, my balance has improved and I’ve had a massive surge in confidence.

“The classes are great fun – I really enjoy them, even though they’re hard. I couldn’t do it without my guide dog, Keith.”

Fitness advisor Alex Constantine said: “Nicola’s continued commitment to keeping fit demonstrates that fitness is for everyone. She is a real inspiration.

“She attends either the gym or fitness class three times a week. She can already notice the benefits, with general fitness being so important to everyday life.

“We pride ourselves on ensuring our gyms are open and accessible to everyone.”