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Guest post: Breaking the barriers of keeping fit
By Joe Harman, Breaking Barriers disability and exercise personal trainer and sports massage therapist
Fitness activity is something we can all do, and it helps us to feel strong and healthy, it can give us energy, improve sleep, and make us generally feel good. I believe anyone should be able to access fitness activities regardless of disability, injury or illness.
I created Breaking Barriers specifically to focus on helping people with injuries, illness
or disability to access fitness activities, through individual personal
personal training for people with disabilities?
Personal Training can be for everyone and can be a lot of fun.
At Breaking Barriers we work with people with physical or cognitive impairments including people who have experienced stroke, head injury, spinal injury, and those diagnosed with diabetes, arthritis, autism, chronic pain, back pain etc. Whatever your difficulty – for example if your disability means you use a wheelchair or walking aids, have lost a limb, or have weakness in a part of your body – sessions can be designed to suit you.
Setting your fitness goals
Specialist personal training sessions should focus on your personal goals. These can be different for everyone. For some people this is increasing fitness or addressing weight or shape. For others, it might be rehabilitation sessions e.g. making a limb stronger, increasing core strength or stability, improving balance or walking, or reducing aches and pains.
Personal training involves working one-to-one with a trainer to complete an exercise routine or specific exercises to help with physical rehabilitation. As well as using exercise machines (if you are able) for running/walking, cycling, stepping, or cross training, there are so many different types of exercise equipment that can be used, such as kettlebells, battleropes, TRX systems, bosu balls, fitness step and free weights, to name just a few!
There are many different exercises routines that you can do, based on your abilities – for example you might use some combination of sit ups, squats, lunges, stepping, arm circles, high knees and other movements, with using weights, exercise equipment or the fitness machines. Don’t worry if you don’t know about some of these things – a trainer can show you, talk you through everything, help you to adapt equipment and exercises to your own abilities, and to find what you like doing the most.
can be different, interesting and challenging! Some sessions may be active and
energetic, whilst other sessions may involve opening up or strengthening the
use of an arm, hand or leg or completing mobility exercises, slowly and
carefully, at your pace. You could be supported to complete exercises without
any specific adaptions (e.g. you can use arm weights in a wheelchair or use a
TRX system despite limb weakness). You could also be supported to use
specialist equipment to assist exercise (e.g. equipment that makes it easier
for you to grasp if your grip is weaker), or the exercise may be adapted to
enable you to complete it (e.g. completing wall squats instead of free standing
squats to aid balance).
train and finding the right trainer
training can take place in your home, in the park, in a private personal
training gym space or in a local gym. Look for a specialist personal trainer
who is qualified to work with injury/disability and check they are skilled to
work with your specific needs and can offer the right workout environment to
suit you. You can speak to the trainers in your local gym, ask advice from a
physiotherapist or have a look online, where trainers often advertise their
Taking the first step
If you would
like to consider exercise, whether it is purely for fitness or for
rehabilitation purposes to help improve your physical abilities, consider
trying a session with a specialised personal trainer. Having a personal trainer
supporting you during your sessions will help encourage, motivate and inspire
you to achieve more than you thought possible.
If you would
like any help or advice or would like to talk about a session with Breaking
Barriers, do give us a call anytime. You might also like to look at the English Federation for Disability Sport website
or the NHS Live Well Site, or check
out Scope’s disability sports pages to get more ideas about fitness
activities for you.
Breaking Barriers, Buckinghamshire
Have you got any stories about using exercise or training to make yourself fitter or stronger? Is it something you’ve thought about but have been putting off? Let us know in the comments below.