Hello, my name is Wendy

In October 2008 i had an incident, a blackout and falling down stairs. I broke my neck at C5/6/7 cervical level, which essentially means i had instant paralysis from the neck down. The hospital felt it essential to operate with a bone graft from my hip bone, to replace shattered neck bones beyond repair or recovery without it.

Women With Gifts Wendy

I’m lucky to have any recovery of feeling or movement due to the level and severity of my injury.

Some of the staff were more hopeful as i was very physically fit and had always been a gym , weights user and exerciser so muscle tone, repair and attitude were all finding new demands i could not have imagined. Even then lying in bed , not being able to move, I still wanted to work out how i was going to get back to the gym!

I’m lucky to have any recovery of feeling or movement due to the level and severity of my injury.

Some of the staff were more hopeful as i was very physically fit and had always been a gym , weights user and exerciser so muscle tone, repair and attitude were all finding new demands i could not have imagined. Even then lying in bed , not being able to move, I still wanted to work out how i was going to get back to the gym!
I made contact with Aspire , a very supportive spinal charity, after leaving the Midlands Spinal Centre hospital in Oswestry and meeting some of their volunteers. Aspire ran something called ‘Instructability’ , A funded opportunity for disabled individuals gain YMCA Gym and Fitness qualifications. I hoped it could just give me some confidence back. Aspire wanted to get disabled skilled professionals into gyms with support, starting as voluntary placements.
The course was intense, much more than I imagined!! I was sooooo tired with my recovery still in progress, but I wanted to get back to being seen as a person.

I tried to work with as many different disabilities and people as I could reach. I found as I started to work with others in the gym, they began to see options in exercise too. Comments came like..’ you get that i don’t move like other people because you don’t either’….and ……’because you’ve got disability, you’re already thinking like me and for me. So i will trust you’…….

I stretched myself further and applied for Casual Gym and Fitness Instructor post with Sandwell Leisure Trust. That would be another huge achievement to be the first gym instructor with disability in Sandwell .

On leaving the interview, the assessor walked with me to collect the next person. She said they had been so impressed with the practical and that my disability made no difference, that i taught the same as anyone and it was inspiring and they’d not seen anyone like me before.

Some years have passed, and I have developed my own class , FUNction Fitness, designed for all with disability. I know there are none or very few and difficult to access mixed ability classes available.
I now have lots of regular FUNction Fitness participants, in wheelchairs and with other abilities. Their progress speaks for itself.

I always tell them; i can only offer the exercises, the effort is up to them. They do things they never would have tried before. Sometimes it’s just because they need a hand picking something up, or direction how to use it differently.

I encourage anyone to try my class and invite them along, have a chat or simply just for them to see someone else with mixed ability.

I have gone on to create a fitness instructor CPD for Disability Awareness in Exercise , and for instructors to subscribe to my FUNction Fitness to deliver more classes.

There’s a long way to go, and lots of disabled people who still want to exercise. My vision is they can find FUNction Fitness near them and to be found on leisure timetables alongside other classes.

Women With Gifts Function Fitness part 2

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