The UK’s first ever ParaTri

Remember Kris from Wheely Good Fitness? Not only is he supporting us with Steptember 2015, at the beginning of August he also took part in the UK’s first ParaTri event. 

Held at Dorney Lake in Windsor, it was the first ever mass-participant disability sport event in the UK. And not just any event – the triathlon. Kris was part of two Wheely Good Fitness teams who entered the Sprint Relay and the Half Para Relay on what was a fantastic day! Here’s their story.

Team one was made up of John, Susie and Chrissie – John and Susie have been attending our Wheel-Fit class for 18 months and Susie also attends our Wheel-Spin class. Chrissie is a Support Worker for Scope. Team two was made up of two more of our Wheel-Fit and Wheel-Spin clients, Julie and Elliot, along with our class instructor Kris.

The day was not only about bringing people of all abilities together, but about demonstrating that you don’t have to be a paralympic athlete to take part. Our teams were able to challenge themselves beyond their comfort zone by not only having to work against the clock, but also in a different environment.

In addition to the team were the support staff involved in not only encouraging and verbally supporting those taking part, but some ran side by side to provide guidance and comfort. Behind the scenes they ensured everyone was able to attend by arranging transport and attending to individuals needs.  In total there were fifteen of us, all in our bright purple Team Wheely and Scope shirts.

Everyone taking part raced to the best of their ability, resulting in the sprint team taking 37th place and the Half Para Relay team taking 6th place. Whilst everyone shone there was one team member whose journey has to be mentioned because not only should it inspire others to keep aiming high but also because a life long dream was achieved.

Susie’s story

Susie was in the sprint team  and her contribution to the relay was a 1km wheelchair push which she managed to do in just over 11 minutes.

When Susie came to our classes 18 months ago she was unable to open her one hand adequately to push her wheelchair properly and was generally pushed in her chair. As time went on her movements improved and she was able to open her hand enough to grab the push rim and asked to attend Wheel-Spin which wasn’t at that time possible.

Instead we agreed she could attend the 10 minute cool down section of Wheel-Spin and we would see how things progressed. Susie couldn’t get enough of it and started arriving earlier and earlier, and slowly the abilities in pushing and the use of her hand improved.

Now, 12 months on, she actively takes part in Wheel-Spin and has become quite independent and confident which is why she was entered into the Sprint Relay. What is so special about this is that not only did she challenge herself to improve, but as a result she also achieved a long standing ambition on Sunday of being an athlete and all at the age of 60.

The day at ParaTri was yet another proud day for us, seeing the benefits of the work we do and seeing how different lives can be when you believe in yourself and your abilities.

Read more about Wheely Good Fitness on their blog.

Disabled people aren’t delicate! Why we’re getting fit this #Steptember

Guest post from Kris Saunders-Stowe of Wheely Good Fitness, who runs exercise classes for both disabled and non-disabled people in Herefordshire. He’s helping us promote Steptember, the fun fitness challenge where you can raise money for Scope.DSC_0153

For some people exercise is a dirty word, conjuring up images of sweaty, unfriendly gyms, intimidating perfect physiques and lots of hard work, sweat and tears. This can be true! However, it’s just one side of the fitness world, and not at all reflective of what it’s all about.

Every movement we perform in daily life, from carrying shopping and lifting a wheelchair into the car to opening a door or cleaning our teeth, is exercise.

And the definition of success is different for every person – one person’s desire to lift a 40kg dumb-bell is just as valid as another person’s desire to lift and hold their cup of morning coffee.

Step away from the stereotyped image of exercise, and you see that it’s about looking after your body to ensure that it is healthy and able to support you in your daily life.

Disability and fitness

Disability and exercise aren’t usually seen as going hand in hand. Yet for disabled people, getting the right exercise is all-important – otherwise, you’ll lose strength and flexibility and become less and less active.Wheelchair fitness class taking place

Another reason for the negativity around exercise and disability is one forced upon us by society. Disabled people are delicate, we should be careful, we’re not allowed to do this and that. Health and safety!

We only have to look at Paralympics to see that that’s not true. But lots of disabled people can relate to being turned away from a gym. Or they’re only allowed to take part in an over-70s class or similar (which is silly in itself – older people resent being pigeon-holed by their years rather than their abilities!).

At Wheely Good Fitness, we like to challenge these preconceptions by running modern, proactive and high energy classes for people of varying abilities.

We do this because there’s a severe lack of suitable multi-ability classes out there – classes where disabled people actively take part with the group and have the same experience as the rest. There is a huge need for leisure facilities to start making disability fitness an integral part of their programmes.

Get involved

Whether you’re disabled or not, we’re all the same – our muscles need maintaining, our hearts need looking after, our minds need challenging and our weight managing. I want to encourage more people to take part in exercise on any level, and that’s why I and some of my clients are supporting Steptember.

Man lifting weights while sitting in a wheelchair, another man with a prosthetic leg behind him
Kris with disabled model Jack Eyres, who’s also supporting Steptember

This month of activity is about increasing the amount of physical activity you do, in whatever way you prefer, whilst also raising money for Scope. You might want to take 10,000 steps a day, or the equivalent using a wheelchair, but there are dozens of other activities that also count.

We’re also releasing our first ever Wheel-Fit home exercise DVD for Steptember, with £1 from every copy sold going to Scope.

Remember, we all have something we can do to get fit – and we can all improve our abilities, mood, energy levels and fitness through exercise. Whether you’re lifting dumbbells or tins of beans, doing a marathon or wheeling to your front door and back, it all makes a difference!

Sign up for Steptember to get fit this autumn – and raise money for Scope! You can do it alone or with friends or colleagues.