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Wheely Good Fitness

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Our aim is to ensure that wheelchair users are able to take part in and benefit equally from varying fitness activities suited to their individual needs; to ensure that wheelchair users have an understanding of how lack of exercise affects their health, and to help remove personal and social barriers to enable wheelchair users to freely take part in physical activities. Whilst our main focus is wheelchair users, our aim is to provide the same freedom, support and understanding to clients from others areas of the disabled community, enabling them to also enjoy the fun and health benefits of physical activity. For many years the need to provide appropriate and suitable exercise options to people in wheelchairs has been greatly overlooked. Often where it is provided, it has been an adaptation of an able bodied concept rather than tailored to the needs and physical demands of a wheelchair user. Whilst we are all technically the same, the use of the body by a wheelchair user is very different and therefore exercise and training needs to be built around this difference. Our founder Kris who is a wheelchair user himself, set about trying to improve the choices for wheelchair users whilst also changing the attitude towards disability and fitness.

For many wheelchair users there are medical issues affecting their lives and creating challenges every day whilst also having to cope with the side effects of medications along with the emotional strain an individuals circumstances can bring. However, overall fitness plays a big part in how we feel, cope with and enjoy life whilst also enabling independence and social interaction. A study in 2010/11 showed that 93% of wheelchair users are not taking sufficient physical activity, increasing their risk of developing certain chronic diseases by nearly 60%.

Gyms can, regardless of ability, be an intimidating place for many, but some gyms are better suited than others to people with specific requirements and support needs. Should you be looking to join a gym then look for one that has the IFI accreditation – Inclusive Fitness Initiative. Set up by the English Federation of Disability Sport an IFI accredited centre means that it is supportive of inclusive training for disabled people, with inclusive and accessible equipment and has staff who are able to support disabled clients. There are different levels of this award ,so support can vary from centre to centre but it is a good starting point if you are concerned about where is best to go.

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