"When you have had a cancer diagnosis or surgery, you may not know where to start or how to exercise safely. Helping people to navigate this and to get their confidence back is incredibly rewarding."

Sarah Russell, fitness instructor

Lloyds Bank
03 February 2021
2 min read

A fitness instructor who specialises in working with people diagnosed with cancer and people with stomas has moved her service online with the support of Lloyds Bank.

Sarah Russell, who is based in East Sussex, has been an exercise specialist for 25 years, specialising in personal training and teaching Pilates. When her eponymous business was impacted by Covid-19 – as clients were no longer able to visit her and her work at a local hospice was put on hold – Sarah applied for a Bounce Back Loan through long-term banking partner Lloyds Bank to help grow her operation online.

Sarah says that she has always been interested in working with people with health conditions, a focus that became even more defined when she had stoma surgery herself in 2010, which meant she would need to wear a colostomy bag for the rest of her life.

She now offers clinical exercise and rehabilitation support and advice to clients who have or have had cancer or a stoma, on how to exercise safely and keep fit as part of their lives, providing both one-to-one and group sessions.

Growing the business

The loan from Lloyds Bank has enabled Sarah to get her clinical Pilates website ‘The Ostomy Studio’ – for people who have a stoma – up and running, as well as purchase filming and sound equipment to create professional videos, and a large TV to see all of her clients at once during group sessions.

Sarah, who has been a business customer of Lloyds Bank for seven years, says the pandemic pushed her to start producing her own videos, and that the move online has seen her go from two or three clients a week pre-lockdown to now receiving three enquiries a day.

Sarah reflects: “I’m busier than I’ve ever been, and I’m so glad that clients can reach out and get my support online now. It’s a real gamechanger for me and for people needing my help.

“From my own experience, when you have had a cancer diagnosis or surgery, you may not know where to start or how to exercise safely. Helping people to navigate this and to get their confidence back is incredibly rewarding.

“I’m currently working virtually with people all over the UK, as well as in countries as far away as India and Australia and, when you consider who the beneficiaries are, it’s fair to say that the backing and continued support of Lloyds Bank has been lifechanging.”

Jamie Whitington, Area Business Manager at Lloyds Bank, added: “Sarah’s story is simply inspiring. Her determination to keep offering her expertise and first-hand experience to cancer and stoma patients throughout lockdown has provided a lifeline of advice and support. We will remain by the side of her business as it continues to pivot and expand its service to those who need it most.”

Sarah Russell had her first book, The Bowel Cancer Recovery Toolkit: Recover faster with activity, exercise and lifestyle, published in November 2019 and she has also worked closely with medical consultancy ConvaTec to train around 350 stoma nurses to deliver rehabilitation exercises to their patients.

Find out more about Sarah’s work at sarah-russell.co.uk and theostomystudio.co.uk.

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