A bodybuilder competed for five years without realising she had two broken feet.
Helena Phil, 44, suffered two separate injuries whilst driving and at work, which caused chronic pain in her feet.
For the next five years, the North London based personal trainer had no idea both her feet needed surgery.
Since undergoing two operations, Helena, a fitness enthusiast since the age of 26, is now on the mend.
Helena said: “My original injuries were actually within two days of each other.”
“I used to be a lorry driver and a roof leak caused me to slip backwards out of the van landing on my feet”
“The pressure on my feet as a result of the fall was agonising. The second injury, I was with a friend on the motorway when we had a collision which caused the car to roll.”
“My accident originally affected left foot but because I was putting weight more on my right, the lack of symmetry caused damage to the right side as well.”
Suffering with constant pain in her feet and frequent headaches, the 44-year-old simply added insoles to her shoes and tried to carry on as normal.
When she finally went to the doctors for help, an MRI scan revealed both feet were fractured and needed surgery.
The 2014 operation left her needing to use a wheelchair for a month and then crutches for more than a year, meaning her personal training business had to be put on hold.
Helena said: “I really struggled with not being able to exercise and nine months into my recovery, I started using dumbbells just to stay active. I was also fitted with a special shoe in order to still attend the gym using crutches.”
“The experience did inspire me to take my business in a new direction though and I used my recovery time to train as a life coach. Now I offer both personal training and life coaching so I work with clients on their body and mind.”
The fitness mogul faced her second round of surgery in 2016.
She added: “In both of my feet today I have wires, pins and plates inserted. I bleep whenever I go through customs!”
Helena’s journey to personal training and bodybuilding started nearly 20 years ago.
She said: “I used to be obese but during my 20’s I decided to do something about it. During that journey, I thought this was the kind of work I wanted to do and help other people.
“Years later, I was in the gym with a friend of mine who was competing at the time, and he said you should come and try it out as a joke, I considered it and thought why not?”
Helena’s bodybuilding career has led to her competing at venues such as the O2 Arena.
She said: “I had literally 4 months to prepare for my first WBFF competition in 2013. I was only really focused on not dropping to the floor in 6-inch heels in front of everyone as I didn’t have full balance. It was extremely painful.
“I certainly feel stronger for this. Life is a mystery, you assess the situation you are in, open your mind and re-focus. You need to get on, do what you need to do, and take time for yourself. Regardless of the situation, you have to keep going.”