2022 ESSA Client of the Year

Each year ESSA searches for the most inspirational client story. We were delighted to receive just under 50 submissions this year, each sharing a wonderful message about utmost dedication and relentless perseverance.

With so many stories to choose from, we found it impossible to award just one winner. So instead, we selected three, with an additional honourable mention.

Congratulations to the following winners!

ESSA’s Client of the Year 2022:

Steve Silva, treated by AES/AEP Harley Makin, from Melbourne Yoga and Pilates

ESSA’s Client of the Year 2022 Runners Up:

Lily Sharrock, treated by AES/AEP Helen Legge, from Cerebral Palsy Alliance, ACT

Deb Lachlan, treated by AES Catherine McKenna, from FNQ Health and Fitness, Qld

ESSA’s Client of the Year 2022 Honourable Mention:

Megan Harridge, treated by AES/AEP Catherine Young, from Redlands Exercise Physiology, Qld

Reading about the incredible things ESSA professionals and their clients achieve, reminds us why we do what we do. We’re so proud to represent the people in our industry and we want to keep spreading the word.

Stay tuned for more details of these inspiring client stories, coming very soon....  

2021 ESSA Client of the Year Winner

ESSA is excited to announce Fabio Savoia as the 2021 ESSA Client of the Year, nominated by his Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Courtney Donaldon from Move Better Exercise!

Fabio is 27 years old and has a diagnosis of spastic cerebral palsy and mobilises in a wheelchair full time.

Courtney shared that “Fabio came to see me for support with exercise. Given his level of mobility he requires a bit of support and assistance in the gym. The gym is very important to him and he hopes to eventually compete in a para powerlifting competition.”

What has been the outcome of Fabio's physical/mental health after working with you, Courtney?

Fabio has improved in leaps and bounds since beginning his exercise journey with me. Most recently with a trap machine deadlift 1RM personal record of 167.5kgs. The greatest outcome of his exercise journey has been in his walking. As mentioned above, he mobilises in a wheelchair, however can walk with some support. Before I begun working with him, he had barely done any walking in the past 8 years, now we have him walking up stairs, doing obstacle courses and walking down the street. His mobility has increased ten-fold, his muscle tone has decreased and he feels a great sense of achievement and independence as a result.

Fabio said that “Daily exercise has helped me by significantly decreasing pain and discomfort that comes with my disability and sitting in the wheelchair for long periods of time. I found on the days that I don’t do any exercise my body feels stiff, making it difficult for me to use my wheelchair and transfer.  It has also helped me improve muscle strength and endurance for both upper body and lower body to help with the use of my wheel chair getting around the community independently, also transferring in and out of the wheelchair and around the home independently.  I find that when I exercise daily it helps me function better, gives me confidence and I'm able to live a better lifestyle, I also find that I can physically do things better. it also helps be part of the community and interact with other people.  When I don’t exercise, I feel flat, depressed, isolated, angry and tired.”

Finally, Courtney said that “Fabio is so much fun to work with. He has helped me to grow as a practitioner and I feel within myself a sense of accomplishment watching him achieve his goals and knowing that I am a part of him feeling happier and healthier. #proudpractitioner.”

2020 ESSA Client of the Year Winner

ESSA is excited to announce Marianne Sykes as the 2020 ESSA Client of the Year, nominated by her Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Sophie Pacek from Healthy Connections Exercise Clinic.

Marianne's mental strength and resilience are the defining qualities of her past and present successes,” explained Sophie to the ESSA team.

In 2013, Marianne was diagnosed with dystonia, a neurological movement disorder that causes the muscles in the body to contract or spasm involuntarily. This left Marianne unable to walk and in a wheelchair. Unfortunately, it also meant that she had to move out of her and her husband, Don’s home, and into a residential aged care facility at the age of 53.

When Marianne met Sophie in 2018 she told her, “I want to be walking in a year.” Through a tremendous amount of resilience and hard work, Marianne managed to walk again in just eight months. Marianne explained that it was, “the resilience to get from here to there” that willed her on.

There wasn’t a plan, just an ‘I have to get out of here [the aged care facility] mentality’.

Marianne then started going to the Healthy Connections Exercise Clinic twice a week. At that point, she was not able to walk and struggled to stand up unsupported.

We started with seated exercises, and gradually over time, we got Marianne off a chair and onto a walker. As time went on, Marianne got off the walker and could walk unsupported. From there, Marianne reached her goal and was able to leave the aged care facility and move into a retirement village,” added Sophie.

After six months in the retirement village, Marianne made another tremendous milestone: she moved back into independent living with her husband.

I’ve done a 360 with my life in the last five years,” said Marianne.

Now, at the age of 60-years-young, Marianne walks everywhere – to the grocery store, the exercise clinic and community centre. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to walk a kilometre, whereas before it would take that long just to walk to the bus stop 200 metres away.

When asked about her thoughts on exercise, Marianne said this: “Exercise is really good for everyone, no matter what your age is. You don’t realise how important your muscles are until you lose them, and they’re hard to get back once they’re gone.

Fabio Savoia

Sophie Pacek (L) and Marianne Sykes (R)