‘Life is for living’: Jon’s back flying high

Jon Martin and plane

One of the low points in the high-flying career of ex-Cathay Pacific pilot Jon Martin came in a hotel room in Taipei.

‘Just prior to pick up for a flight to Hong Kong I called my First Officer, also staying at the hotel,’ Jon explains. 

‘I asked him to help me put on my socks and shoes and tie my shoe laces.’

With a ‘litany of back issues’ over many years, some the result of an action-packed life of Aussie rules football, motorbikes and horse riding, Jon generally suffered in silence and got on with the job. 

The incident in Taipei was no exception.

‘Once I got going, things improved enough to operate the B747 flight back to Hong Kong’, Jon says. 

Jon spent 31 years based in Hong Kong as a pilot for Cathay Pacific and later, flying jets for private clients.

Yet, despite consulting the best practitioners he could find, his back pain couldn’t be resolved. 

‘No matter how much money you spent, no matter how diligent you were in finding the best practitioners, it was only of temporary relief,’ Jon recalls.

‘I ended up around 100 kilos, which only exacerbates pressure on the spine and pain that leads to all sorts of bad outcomes, mental health and things like that.’

After a series of surgical procedures over the years, Jon eventually returned to Melbourne and was introduced to getback physiotherapy. 

To his profound relief, ‘it worked’.

‘It was absolutely stunning how getback worked for me,’ Jon says. ‘It was the first time I’d been pain free for probably 25, 30 years.’

After three months in the getback program, Jon reached his program targets for spinal strength and mobility.

‘They couldn’t do any more for me, but it was something that I just wasn’t prepared to let go,’ Jon says. He jokes that ‘they ended up having to tell me to go home.’

Jon eventually started a back strengthening program with an alternative provider.

While there were some benefits initially, he says there was ‘nowhere near the same level of control of people on the machines that there was on the getback devices.’

‘I actually hyperextended my back and had to go back to (getback Head of Exercise Physiology) Adam again to resolve that.’

Jon Martin

At 73 years of age, and despite two reverse shoulder replacements, a knee replacement, and a fused ankle, Jon is now 88kg and leading ‘a very full life’.

‘Being fit and pain free underpins everything,’ Jon says. ‘It enables you to have a very full life.

‘I have my own aeroplane, I do woodworking, I’m happily married, we do all kinds of things.

‘I cycle with my brother, I go for long walks, I go to the gym.

‘It (getback) has had such a profound effect on my life.’

It also gives Jon confidence knowing he has a go-to resolution if issues arise again.

‘If you’ve got a crook back, you don’t feel like doing anything,’ Jon says.

‘If you’re fit, pain free, the world is your oyster.

‘I’m just so grateful for the program.’

Jon says that in the past he has been reluctant to recommend programs to friends.

‘You can get burnt recommending programs and people,’ he says.

‘I’ve advocated for getback and a number of people have gone there, and they’ve all had the same outcome.

‘This one has never let me down.’

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