The story of 41-year-old Warwickshire resident, Ripon, is truly unbelievable and inspiring in equal measures.
Ripon was leaving work and heading out of the tube station in London on a normal day, like any other, when, without warning, he fell to the floor in the midst of a major cardiac arrest. Had the quick-thinking commuters passing him by not been so fast to act, providing CPR and locating the near-by defibrillator to shock his heart back in to action, he would not be alive today.
“The doctors think I must have been clinically dead (my heart not beating) for at least 10 minutes. This was based on the amount of time I was having CPR, and the distance from to the nearest defibrillator.”
Explains Ripon, who is sharing his story of life-after-death and the road back to physical and mental fitness, as part of our #movingstories campaign.
“When I finally came round from the induced coma, days after the incident, the doctors told me I may never be able to exercise again. Which was the worst possible thing you could say to someone like me.”
“The day before my cardiac arrest I’d ran 10km, and my normal routine involved exercise at least 5 days and sometimes 7 days a week.”
“I was in shock and couldn’t get my head round what they were telling me and how I would cope not being active.” Ripon said.
He felt completely lost and coming to terms with the idea of being stuck in the house recuperating slowly did not sit comfortably with him. The doctors had told Ripon to try walking for two minutes a day to begin with and slowly build it up. But this was a man with a passion for Muay Thai Boxing, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, who would rack up three or four 10km runs each week normally.
On his first attempt at walking, Ripon was insistent to go further and push harder than the doctors had recommended. However, he had to stop and rest for 10 minutes on a bench just 2 minutes from home. When he finally made it back home, he crashed to sleep for 8 hours. The realisation of the severity of his condition was sinking in.
“I was broken, but not beaten and I was so determined to get back some of my independence and re-gain my pre-accident fitness. So I took it slowly, adding 10 – 20 seconds on to my walking time each day. It was a long road, but my willingness to achieve my goal never faltered.” Explained Ripon
“After about two months I was able to manage 5km jogging and this was a huge milestone. I had such a fantastic support network of friends and family around me too. I really benefitted from their help, encouragement and understanding.”
But Ripon didn’t stop there, from the 5km runs, he kept on going. Working harder, training more and dedicating his time to returning to his pre-accident peak-fitness. Eventually getting back into training for his beloved Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu:
“I was so happy when I was able to get back to the gym. The team at Aces Gym in Leamington Spa are awesome and supported me in re-gaining my confidence; understanding the pace that I needed to go at.”
“My biggest achievement, so far, was completing the London Marathon – I was so proud to have achieved that, after everything that had happened!”
A few years on from the cardiac arrest, Ripon can now be found running, training in Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai and doing calisthenics workouts seven days a week, most weeks! He quotes the Rocky films when talking of inspiration, and believes in the mentality of not waiting for tomorrow:
“There should be no such thing as ‘starting tomorrow’. Start today, do it now in the moment, when you think about it. I hear people say – the diet start’s Monday, but why wait until then.”
“Similarly – too many people start out at full speed, putting way too much pressure on their body and their brain. Lower your expectations and lean in to it gently. If my journey of recovery taught me anything, it is to go little by little. Marginal increases of 10 seconds at a time, or 1kg heavier, 500m further. Any improvement is still an improvement.”
We are proud to have Ripon as a #movingstories ambassador as he has clearly demonstrated that you can achieve anything, with the right motivation, support and belief.
“I would encourage anyone to get out and give something new a try. There is so much opportunity out there. Clubs and sports centres are a great place to start, but so is finding a YouTube video and clearing a space in your living room to try out a routine at home,” enthuses Ripon.
If you’d like to share your own #movingstory visit this page.
If you’re inspired by Ripon’s story – find information on how to join a club, find your nearest gym or get tips on where to get started on your road to fitness here: