Gym Advice for People with Disabilities

Since the London 2012 Paralympics, gyms are under increasing pressure to make their buildings more accessible for disabled people. Exercise is important in maintaining both physical and mental wellbeing, but many people with disabilities still feel excluded from gyms. However, there are a variety of different workout-systems in most gyms that many disabled users can still safely operate. Chartwell Insurance takes a quick look at some of the key options, including home gym equipment, that are available.

The English Federation of Disability Sport’s (EFDS) detailed website offers advice for disabled people seeking more active lifestyles. Inclusive Fitness is a scheme that began ten years ago as way of tackling disabled inequality in gyms, and has since gained management from EFDS. Gyms that cater well for the disabled receive an ISF mark. There are now up to 400 gyms with the ISF mark, and the EFDS site provides a map of the UK indicating where each one is located. If you’re hoping to join an ISF gym, this tool is a quick way of finding your nearest facility.

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For disabled people who want to gain cardio and muscular fitness but are put off by the social environment of the gym, another option worth considering is purchasing home gym equipment. Livingmadeeasy.org.uk lists workout equipment available to buy that is suitable to many people with disabilities, and ideal for home gyms, with each item placed in its relevant category. For example, the Bromaking Training Roller is an impressive ‘upper body’ cardiovascular workout machine that acts like a treadmill for wheelchair users. Designed by Bromakin Wheelchairs, it features a digital display system that reads the user’s speed and distance covered.

Body building is something many of us associate with the gym, and being disabled doesn’t necessarily prevent it. Dan Smith is a paraplegic body builder. In 2006 he was paralysed from the waste-down but has since gained national recognition and respect for his intensive gym work. He now works fulltime as a professional Wheelchair Pro Body Builder. You can buy his DVD ‘No Excuses from his official site.

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Disabled-world.com features an article about four disabled body builders. Three out of the four are wheelchair bound, the exception being Nino Savona, who uses crutches. The latter hopes “to show people with disabilities that … nothing is impossible if you can do it in your mind and have a healthy spiritual life”.

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