As a runner, Bill Hardy has always been fit. But it wasn’t until he was diagnosed with prostate cancer that he resolved to make a business of it.
“During my recuperation, I had to go to physiotherapy classes and there were quite a number of other men there,” he says. “I noticed how difficult it was for them to get up off the ground, to do stretching exercises and move in a healthy way.”
A light bulb went off in his head.
When Bill retired from work 12 months later, he didn’t hop into a caravan to travel around Australia or take up gardening. He went to TAFE and spent his days sitting in classrooms full of 20-year-olds, getting his Diploma of Fitness. His singular aim was to: “Help men put some years into their life; to give them more vitality.”
Today, he operates fitness classes and his business has expanded to focus on women too. Each and every day, Bill’s classes are full of regulars.
“We do the same exercises as younger people, but I modify them for the level of fitness that these people are at,” Bill says. “Because I’m not a 20- or 30-year-old trainer, I know how a 60- or a 70-year-old person feels. That’s what makes people come back all the time.”
Five days a week, Bill wakes up at 5am in preparation for a 7am start. Each class is supposed to run for an hour but, as Bill admits, they usually go over time because he’s enjoying it so much.
“The best thing I get out of it is seeing other people become so much fitter,” he says. “I just can’t believe the exercise programs that I give to people now. I get so much feedback from people saying ‘my blood pressure has dropped’ or ‘my doctor told me I’m the fittest 70-year-old she’s ever seen’.”
Bill’s aim is to keep people fit, healthy and out of hospital, which is also why he’s a supporter of My Health Record. He first heard about it when he was on a committee for his local primary health network. After researching and using it himself, he started telling people about it in his classes.
“I do my training job to keep people fit and healthy, and I see My Health Record as a great tool to help with that,” Bill says. “At any given time, 20 or 25 per cent of my classes could be away travelling somewhere. Someone came to me this morning and said 'I won’t be there next week, I’m going to Kakadu.'
“If someone is away or goes to a different GP or specialist, My Health Record means the doctor can access their records and make sure the treatment or medication they’re given keeps them fit and healthy. This could save lives or keep people out of hospital.”
Vital for life
Bill’s kept health at the centre of his life. He and his wife are both runners. So a call from his doctor telling him he had a fairly aggressive form of prostate cancer came as a shock.
The first line of treatment was an operation. It seemed successful until a test showed his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels were rising again and Bill had to undergo further treatment.
It’s been stable for several years, but a recent test showed Bill’s PSA had risen slightly. While it’s not at a high level, Bill is getting PET scans and other checks just to ensure everything is as it should be.
During his treatment for cancer, Bill didn’t have My Health Record. But now he’s glad to have it as a record he can refer to as he monitors his health.
“At this particular point, I couldn’t tell you what date it was that I got my diagnosis, when I had my operation, when I had radiotherapy or when I had that blood test,’ Bill says. “From a scan I had the other day through the rest of my journey, I’ll be able to use My Health Record and know exactly where I’m at.”
Bill credits his exercise regime as a key part in his recovery from cancer and maintaining his health.
“The exercise that I do helps me get on with life,” Bill says. “This is what I say to people: you don’t have to go to classes but you have to keep moving. It keeps your head clear and increases your vitality.”