Woman’s drumming career saved after devastating illness

A musician who trained with Beyonce’s drummer today told of her joy after she was “cured” of a painful muscle condition that left her unable to move.

Mairi Newberry, from Ferryhill, became bedridden and feared she would never drum again after being struck down by joint condition fibromyalgia.

But the 41-year-old said her life was “saved” after she took part in Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) with Sheddocksley-based muscle expert Garry Nimmo.

Stretch:  Mairi Newberry and, inset right, with Garry Nimmo of Active Balance.

The mum-of-one, who has been drumming since she was four years old, was in the US last summer for meetings with her music company Syrenne Sync when a rash appeared all over her body.

Mairi had been experiencing some pains in the months before but had put it down to the work she put in while training with drummer Kimberly Thompson, who has toured with Beyonce, Jay Z and Kanye West.

Mairi had contacted her idol Kimberly about five years ago and was invited to train at her New York home.

She said: “It started off with sore tendons and I thought I’d overdone it with Kim. I was drumming four nights a week.”

Mairi experienced bad cramps and began to feel like she wouldn’t make it through performances.

She said: “It was like somebody injected fire into me.”

Holding sticks from Kim (Kimberly Thompson) in New York.Mairi Newberry

After the rash appeared she visited a Los Angeles hospital but doctors were baffled.

Mairi said: “The rash started off in little bits. I went to the medical health centre in California.

“They gave me an injection of cortisone. Next day it was worse.”

Mairi contacted her husband Simon, 55, and decided to book a flight back to Scotland.

She said: “I came back home, went to the doctor and 22 blood tests later they said, ‘We think it’s fibromyalgia and treatment is going to be drugs’.

“I said there was no chance because that wouldn’t help me play.

“I had given up at this point, I was really depressed.

“I couldn’t bend, I couldn’t get up, I couldn’t walk.”

It is unclear why some people develop fybromyalgia.

Possible causes include chemical imbalances, triggers such as a viral infection or genetics.

Some sufferers have to take dozens of tablets each day to cope with the crippling pain.

Mairi was devastated. Her career had taken her across the world, including to the Royal Albert Hall.

She said: “I fell ill when I was becoming the best drummer I’d ever been.

“I’d also started training with Pete Ray Biggin, who was Amy Winehouse and Chaka Khan’s drummer.

“Then it got to the point where I felt I couldn’t get out of bed anymore.”

Mairi13

She turned to Garry, who runs Active Balance, from Sheddocksley Sports Centre.

Garry said: “Fibromyalgia is a hyper sensitive pain.

“When we do our normal everyday activities we get tired and everything becomes painful.

“A lot of treatments nowadays require touch.

“They can be very painful and uncomfortable but AIS stretching is not touching to the same degree, it’s a totally different way of treating someone.”

New Zealand-born Garry, 58, who was trained by AIS creator Aaron Mattes, has worked with a wide range of patients.

They include Olympic champions, sufferers of muscle conditions and even just people who want to improve their posture and fitness.

Garry helped Mairi perform a series of stretches and, after a few weeks of treatment, Mairi was able to get back to her drum kit.

She said: “It’s just amazing that I can do this without drugs.

“Garry is the person who completely saved me.”

Mairi is visiting Pete Ray Biggin in London next week and is returning to New York in June, where she hopes to visit Kimberly.

She is also expanding her music syncing business, in which her son Jack, 16, is also involved.

Mairi said: “My health is near 100% again. I’m right back to where I was.

“Without Garry I wouldn’t be playing today, I wouldn’t be me.”

For more information about AIS and Garry’s clinic contact 01224 640931 or visit the Active Balance Facebook page.

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