Surrey Coalition of Disabled People

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Life Change by Karen Wilson

Having taken early retirement from a job in central London, I had time on my hands. After filling it with holidays and other fun I was becoming fatter and unmotivated. Akaren2 search of the Internet provided me with opportunities to get active within the week.

At the weekend I already rode a pony with RDA to help my tummy muscles and water-skied with BDWSA at a lake round the M25. I needed something more local that I could do mid week. I started swimming at Rainbow, a local accessible gym and increased my distance but it had no social aspect. An opportunity for a swimathon came and went. Then one day I discovered a fun mini triathlon. I’d not cycled for over 20 years and remembered it was fun: rushing along country lanes with the wind in my hair. So I found three local cycling charities and gave each a go. I tried out adult tricycles, tandems and sides by side tandems.

Settling for a geared red tricycle I started to regularly train once a week. Over 3 cold months my distances crept up towards the day of the event and I completed 5 km cycle, 1mile walk & 1 mile swim over 3 days. Having a goal gave me focus for all my activity and helped me achieve far more than I ever imagined I could.

After such a big effort, I had to rest and recover. Without a focus for my training I didn’t have enthusiasm to get back into the gym. Muscles lost tone and weight piled on. I had to do something to change my direction so I headed back to the gym to burn those calories. I didn’t really know what I should be doing in the gym but I knew what I liked.

karen1By chance my partner found me a purpose to my activities when he discovered in a local magazine the Instructability advert seeking disabled people to train as a fitness instructor and help other disabled people access the gym.

Since I qualified as a fitness instructor with exercise for disabled people I’ve been working at my local gym facility, Rainbow Leisure Centre. Here I’ve been supporting both non-disabled and disabled people helping them get active and improve their health. I’ve been out to disability charities delivering talks, outreach events within the community and encouraging many people to improve their health. After working there for over a year, I’ve been supporting many disabled people by instructing them on the correct use of gym equipment on their own or with their carers. Some people have gone onto access group exercise classes, others joined disabled sport clubs to row, cycle and even waterski.

I’ve seen people have lost weight, got fitter, regained mobility, confidence, improve their stamina, improve their sleep regime, reduced health risks and make friends!

Whether you are limbless, blind, deaf, have nerve damage or mental health problems there are activities that you can do. If you want to find out more about this please contact me and come in to meet me, Karen Willson at Rainbow Leisure Centre. We can discuss your health needs, personal fitness requirements and realistic ways to get achieve your goals.

Karen Willson
Disabled fitness instructor
Rainbow leisure centre
07771 647 132


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