TOP TIPS FOR DISABLED GYM GOERS
So as most of you will know I am a bit of a fitness geek! In lifting and working out I found something I could do and really enjoyed - a focus and motivation.
However, as a disabled individual, it is a little bit more difficult to get into a gym regime. I am very fortunate in my gym in that I have developed relationships with the Personal Trainers (PT’s) and so getting help with the equipment is no problem. Although, that only began because I started the conversation and was open to their assistance, and with that comes my first Top Tip:
1: Talk to people:
When I first started at the gym I found some of the personal trainers and spoke to them - explaining my condition, what I wanted to do and how they could help me. I formed a good relationship with a PT called Ryan who was incredibly helpful when trying out different equipment, figuring out the best way for me to use it and finding out how to adapt exercises to my ability. I was fortunate in that a PE teacher at my school had already begun training with me whilst I was a student, so I was already familiar with what my body could and couldn’t do. But forming the relationship with Ryan meant that I was comfortable enough to try different things and allow him to help me with different things. Of course, this also comes from Ryan being patient and understanding, and I am lucky that I have found a flexible PT to help me with my exercises.
You may not be able to get a PT with every session - you may be charged for their time, but having people who know you, know when you might need help and are there to look out for you will make your gym experience a lot more relaxed and enjoyable.
2. Just give it a go:
One of the biggest fears for everyone going into the gym is “What will people think of me” “What if I use a machine wrong” - well this is a lot worse for a disabled person, with the fear of approaching equipment and finding you cannot use it, or trying to use it a falling or hurting yourself. But the thing is you will never know until you try, everyone has those first few sessions where they're still getting used to the equipment and workouts, so you have to just try. This is also why it is so important to talk to people, they will be able to explain how the equipment works and help you to understand how you can adjust exercises to suit your own abilities.
3. Stick with it:
Another trait which is hard, whether you are disabled or not, is keeping up with your gym regime, it is so easy to say “Nah I will skip it today and go tomorrow” but if you keep doing that not only will you not achieve your fitness goals but also you won’t grow comfortable with the equipment. All habits take time to build, so it is important to push forward and encourage yourself to stick with a routine in order to get comfortable with it. I am lucky in that - not only do I enjoy working out but I also have gym appointments with PT’s so if I don’t go I am taking time out of their day, not just my own, which encourages me to go even when I really don’t want to.
4. Make a routine:
As I mentioned it is hard to stick with things when you do them all over the place, if you tell yourself you will go to the gym on Tuesday and Thursday then you are already prepared for it. Stick to these days as best you can and maybe even stick to similar workouts so that you're mentally prepared and know what to expect when you go to the gym. This will help you build the habit of going regularly and using the equipment. The other benefit of ensuring you stick to a routine is that you make better progress in the gym. As it is recommended you train each muscle group at least twice a week to build and/or maintain muscle mass (I will explain this further in another blog post)
That about sums it up, so if you’ve always wanted to go the gym take a deep breath and approach it with an open mind.
Don’t let your wheels hold you back with a bit of research and preparation you can make the most of a day out.