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My name is Franco Gasparotti and this is my story:

I am a former soldier who served in Her Majesty’s Elite Coldstream Guards Regiment. Whilst serving with my unit in Northern Ireland in 1988/89, I was part of a patrol team which came under attack by a large mob. During this incident, I sustained serious spinal injuries resulting in my undergoing intensive surgery. I then spent two years in RAF Headley Court, which is one of the finest Military rehabilitation centres in the world. During my time there, I underwent an extremely tough rehabilitation regime consisting of physiotherapy – occupational therapy – hydrotherapy – as well as modules in swimming and fitness training.

After two years of treatment, where I had gone from being wheelchair bound to walking and jogging again, it was decided by the medical professionals that I would no longer be considered fit to resume military duties.  I was therefore medically discharged from the Army.

This meant I had lost, not just my career and the job I loved, but, also, my friends who had become my family and the aspirations I’d had of progressing through the ranks and fulfilling my ambitions as a soldier.

After my discharge, I trained as a professional body guard before retraining as a personal trainer. I quickly established a strong client base and was enjoying my work helping others achieve their health and fitness goals. However, unknown to me, I was suffering the condition Post Traumatic Stress Disorder caused by the incident in Northern Ireland. This condition has been known to take 15 years or more before showing its true symptoms – one of these being comforting eating as a way of blocking out flashbacks and intrusive thoughts from traumatic incidents.

I began eating on such a scale that my weight soon grew from a healthy 10st with a 17% body fat, and a 30 inch waist to that of a 27st morbidly obese person, with a 68% body fat, and a 72 inch waist. I was informed that I was 3 months away from heart and organ failure, as well as certain death unless I took action to change the way I was living my life.

It was at this point that I found Combat Stress. They provided me with the diagnosis of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) They helped me understand my symptoms and assisted me in turning my life around.

However, I also realised that as a qualified personal trainer who had undergone training with the highly regarded London Central YMCA, I had helped many of my clients lead healthy and fulfilling lives.  It was now time to use my considerable experience to save my own life! 

Having thought carefully about how I was going to achieve my goals, I developed a plan that would not only see me overcome my serious eating disorder but would also see me achieve a massive weight and body fat loss of 17 stone in 18 months reducing my body fat level to 17% and regaining my 30 inch waist.  The plan needed to be all-encompassing and it embraced the physical, emotional and psychological steps needed to bring my life – and my health - back under control.

I can honestly say that the experience of achieving this goal will stay with me for the rest of my life.  And, truly, it fills me with pride when I see my clients meet their aspirations of fitness and health through using my own methods of personal training. In my world any goal is achievable if you have the belief and determination to succeed!

My journey of recovery, whilst it has been tough, has been a most rewarding experience and, crucially, it has allowed me this amazing opportunity to inspire others to success.

Thank you for reading my story:

Franco Gasparotti

Personal Trainer