Recent reports suggest that 1 in 5 people in the UK identifies as having a disability, this equates to around 19% of the total population. It is also estimated that only 18% of disabled adults undertake physical activity for more than 30 minutes a week. I think it's time for this to change.
I studied sports coaching and as part of this degree I coached tennis at a primary school. My first experience of coaching a disabled person come when a little girl used a wheelchair in one of the classes I coached. At the first session she just came to the class and watched. During the second session I asked the teacher why the little girl didn’t take part and her reply was that “she has never taken part in gym”. I asked if it was ok for me to ask if she would like to join in to which the little girl smiled and said yes.
As there were two of us coaching between myself and my fellow coach we would take turns pushing the little girl around with a ball and balancing on a racket or bouncing a ball for her to hit with the racket and she was as capable of hitting a tennis ball as the rest of the class. From this I realised that it wasn’t the little girls disability that prevented her taking part it was the lack of support, knowledge and the false assumption that disabled people could not take part in physical activities. I then had the opportunity to coach at a “special school” for around 6 months and this is where my interest and desire in working with disabled people come from and for 12 years I worked as a Personal Assistant.
If you would like more information or to arrange a free consultation then please do not hesitate to get in touch and we can look at starting to remove some of the barriers that stand in your way.
During this 12 years I gained a lot of knowledge and experience of working with disabled people and people with long term health conditions, including disability theory and how it relates to practice as well as planning and adapting a fitness programme. I adapted exercises to cover muscle maintenance, strengthening, cardio workouts and flexibility. I have also gained a vast amount of knowledge on disability theory such as the models of disability and language after assisting in delivering Disability Equality Training for 6 years.
I am a fully qualified personal trainer and have a diploma in programming and supervising exercise for disabled people. I also have a diploma in sports massage and rehabilitation which gives a more holistic look at fitness and wellbeing. The balance of personal training and massage therapy works well for my disabled clients as it is important to also acknowledge recovery.
This has now allowed me to start my own business combining a few of my passions, such as fitness and wellbeing and the musculoskeletal system, with a desire to work with disabled people to reach their potential and break down barriers be that physical or attitudinal. I currently run my business from Puregym Quartermile in Edinburgh and also offer home visits to disabled people if the gym is not accessible to them.
There is no prescriptive programming with fitness and wellbeing for disabled people. I feel that there is too much emphasis on the medical side of what a disabled person can not do, my idea is that we look at how we can adapt exercises, equipment and support to enable us to work muscles, joints and get the heart rate up. We will do this by mixing my expertise in personal training and knowledge of disability with your expertise in your disability. I know that we won’t always be able to remove all barriers for everyone but we can have a good go at removing as many as we can so that we can make fitness and wellbeing inclusive for everyone.