This time of year we all make a promise to ourselves to make changes to our lives and fitness and health are top of the list.

As a reporter, I’m not immune to the allure of the New Year resolution and improving my fitness after an over-indulgent festive period.

Where else to go, than my local leisure centre for some expert advice and motivation to put the promise to myself into action?

Thomas Ellacott is my allocated personal fitness trainer, that’s not a title I’d ever had dreamed of. To be honest I’m rather allergic to gyms and being told what to do by people who I’m secretly envious of.

However, Thomas, fitness instructor with Fusion Lifetyle which runs Meadowlands Leisure Centre in Tavistock, where I work, is reassuringly low key and seems to be ideal for people like me who are scared of gym torture instruments - ie rowing machines and the like.

He is also a reassuring and supportive professional presence to people who have far more rational reasons to worry about organised fitness.

Thomas is running special programmes for people referred to him by general practitioners as part of their treatment, including those with obesity, arthritis, depression and other mental health issues and patients in long-term recovery from back or other surgery.

As a novice, I am therefore more confident about trusting Thomas to gently introduce me to the gym. If he is trusted by people who have never done any exercise (unlike me) and are only doing it because they are advised by a GP, or because it’s good for their depression (and not because they enjoy it) then surely he is the right person for me.

I am, after all, lucky in many ways and enjoy exercise — as long as it isn’t regimented.

Thomas said: ‘Due to the pandemic, we haven’t done GP referrals for a while, but recognise the need for it even more now. The programmes include building strength for those coming back after limb surgery for instance.

‘I have to be on hand all the time if people with heart problems are taking part. If people with depression get too anxious, I can go with them out of the gym and walk round the park and have a chat to help reassure them.

‘The very fact of doing exercise is good for the mind and body. But also people gain confidence by doing something for themselves out of their comfort zone and improving.

‘People in my groups always support each other and even become friends when they might not have anything else in common and would be unlikely to meet and chat normally. That gives me great job satisfaction.’

I now look forward to Thomas’s gym induction. Watch this space!