Shaping the conversation…

This blog, pod & content has documented my thoughts, findings, challenges & and positive angles when training & beyond.

What I’ve found really powerful is to take the time to schedule writing and transforming those into pods to try and make them as accessible as I can. This has helped me delve into areas that I’ve previously found challenging to express feelings around when going back over some hurdles growing up with CP. That being said it’s allowed me to make more sense of exercises done to help my growth and reasons behind it.

So, I’m asking this week – what do you want to hear / read more of? The weekly challenges with training (positive & difficulties) / prep stories / more of how it’s helped me outside of the gym??

I’d be interested to read / hear some thoughts to help more as we go along this journey in life…

😀👍

Smash Barriers!Break New Ground!Every day! At my own speed…

I’m always on the lookout for something new or a tweak / improvement to make in many areas of my life and that starts with the springboard to my day that is the gym.

At first, the new adventure had lots of new ground to explore. Many weeks and months were spent going through many pieces of equipment – some were used as they were presented when I got there, others had to be figured out as time went by.

As the years passed I learned to approach every day as a learning curve. Even down to smaller details and also learning to…slow down. Certain things are better at a slower pace and in doing so, knowing when to dial it down. This is how I’ve continued a path of development which helps build a longer term plan which breaks new ground further in the future – I continue to learn new things about my body and how my CP reacts to such exercises – but I want to enjoy that in the long term too and slowing things down allows me to appreciate that even more when looking at the bigger picture.

Grateful for the movement I have….

I remain incredibly grateful for the movement have in this life, no matter any frustrations that comes along the path which at first glance may seem restrictive, but I’m often reminding myself that while I do have muscle limitation in structure, it could have been even more challenging had things not been as quick when I was born.

That drives the journey in many areas in my life and I’m faced with choices on a daily basis between frustration and upset and finding the adaptions and the way forward.

It is frustrating not many able to do something straight away as intended – at every turn – but as upsetting as it was in my younger days, it’s through those experiences and getting older that enables me to look at situations with a different perspective.

I’m learning every day to find a new way or to look at something differently with a more open mind. I find that in itself requires lots of patience and effort but it also reflects a deeper level with lots of other things in my life too. It shapes my approach with relationships, work, unexpected challenges and day to day tasks. This can throw barriers in the way, but that experience at least provides the tools to attempt to lift those barriers.

The long road from frustration to alternative workouts…

I first entered a gym full of thoughts of the limitations, of what I couldn’t do. I would go around and take machines & even whole areas off my list of things, never thinking I would be able to use them.It was a long page! free weights, Barbell Cable cross with both handles. You name it, it was a long list But I could do a few things and even if I could work my right side for some of it I’d give it a try.

Something gradually changed. I think there was fear of judgement that I couldn’t achieve things, but in my experience gyms are very welcoming and I’ve been fortunate to have great support too.

Over time, confidence building, patience and discovery periods enabled lots of testing, of how to use different attachments as we’ve discussed before, but crucially allowing the teaching and give my body time to adapt and learn. This has enabled me to set challenges and work with different pieces of gym equipment. There is no rush, no advantage to going for really heavy weights from the start. Allowing myself to keep an open mind and to new movements with a great variety keeps things fresh throughout 👍

Attaching an alternative to the push…

Something I realised of late is how extra careful I need to be with the extent of the volume of my sets involving pressing a bar that includes my left hand within the lift.

I’ve long advocated the joy in finding different ways to adapt and seeing attachments around the gym to compliment my workouts have evolved into more of a need.

I’m experiencing more challenges with press exercises through my dexterity, which, does cause some frustration thinking of what I could do without that change – but it’s what I’ve got to work with – the key I’ve found is to gain further knowledge of the sets I can do and mix that volume up.

A good example here was my continued frustration at not being able to execute a dumbbell shoulder press with my left side. I found I can’t safely lift it freely – but here’s the thing – my mission in there isn’t to use the shoulder press, but rather to work my delts….The mission was more to do with what can I use to work that muscle group? Answer…(after lots of trial and error) to use ankle straps attached to my arms to lift in front of me, taking any wrist movement out but still targeting my delts.

Finding those little breakthroughs are as much a joy as any PB as it continues to be a world of discovery!

The challenges continue, but the discovery will too!

“I’m not broken”

“What’s wrong with your hand?” Why do you have a limp?”

Yes, all questions posed to me when I was younger with CP. when I came into this world I didn’t know I had a disability, it was through those conversations I was told there was big differences. Differences that brought questions, some just purely out of curiosity, some of not so nice nature.

I found I had to unlearn that I wasn’t “broken”, it was just my make up, my structure. Finding the words to describe it to myself was hard enough, having to translate that to other people in my youth without going into mass detail but letting them know “I’m good, it’s a just different structure” takes time and energy.

Everything seem to go a million miles more faster at that age.

Where I’m at now, I’ve had 37 years to find my understanding of what cerebral palsy means to me. I have an open nature to questions, I love conversations about adaption and inclusion should people want to have a discussion and share experiences. I love the building community on social, thank you sharing your time with me.

And I’m not broken, it’s my unique structure!💚

To The Universe & Beyond, The Continued Rise of Disability Bodybuilding 🌎🌎🌎

A stunning event at the PCA Universe this past weekend featured top class athletes from across the globe competing in many categories.

The one closet to my heart that continues to grow and showcase top level competition kicked off the day as members of Team GB & Team Finland Mixed Disability class proved once again the incredibly high standard in our category!

Congratulations to all the athletes on that stage and special mention to new PCA Mr Universe Jordan Dodd. Everyone shined and it was another great start to their Bodybuilding show…

One of the things that delights me year in and year out is that as the bar continues to be set high and barriers continued to be smashed every 12 months, more & more athletes are creating their own journeys to the stage.

The more shows that are available, the more opportunities there are and the journey to the stage becomes more accessible – which I think creates further demand on wider scale for more accessible equipment in gyms – which in turn will bring even more people into the sport.

The community that it help builds & the journeys that are created and shared can ignite a passion and determination to reach an incredible goal year after year.

The number of athletes involved in the sport is growing and Sunday was another example of this. There are new champions being crowned every year and is testament to how the rise of the category is providing a platform to so many.

Finally, Thank you again to the PCA in supporting the division 💪

Bring on the rest of year!!💚

Finding an accessible routine…

Supporting physically & mental health

I’ve tried to remind myself often over the last few months of how grateful I am to be in a position to get back to the gym. I obviously knew of the huge benefits of going prior to covid but going deeper than just lifting weights, it became all to apparent during the lockdowns that the benefits aren’t just exclusively physical.

The routine surrounding the gym that is generated as result of the set programmes I use create a purpose. A reason that can crossover to support mental health too. It helps me suspend anxiety and pressures whilst very often giving me clarity day to day.

I’m thankful for the opportunity of finding ways of using weights and supporting exercises for that purpose, drive and clarity it brings. Together, with its self confidence it builds, I don’t want to take it for granted and cherish every opportunity that it supports my physical and mental well being.

Just getting started…

Well into my 30’s now, recovery times are even more crucial with my training, HOWEVER! I still feel we’re only just getting started.

I’ve been training consistently for around 8 years, but I’m still learning every day, I think that’s why I still love it. Training and bodybuilding is a world of discovery. As is my own disability, I’ve asked questions of it my whole life. I understood I have cerebral palsy, but I’m always asking what does it mean to me!

Take the trial and error of the gym. For YEARS I didn’t have the confidence to explore it, to push it and challenge and that was ok, I wasn’t ready – but then my what ifs turned into maybe if I tried this, someone with even more confidence asked me what if you tried that…

I took that advice and I’m trying to ask myself that to this day…

And I feel like I’m just getting started! There are more possibilities for growth, for exploration & for more accessibility every day!

Learning from Show Days

I loved getting to Exeter this past weekend to take in my first bodybuilding show of 2022!

Although I’m not competing this year, there is so much to learn during these times and a feeling of just enjoying the sport plays a huge part in travelling to support the competitors hard work throughout the season.

It took me back to when I first started bodybuilding – one of the best pieces of advice I received when I expressed an an interest in competing was to go to shows, learn, watch, ask questions and get a sense of what the day entails for those in the sport.

And 6 years later I still get so much enjoyment…and lessons from even just attending.

For one, getting to catch up with friends I might not have seen in a while is fab. It’s also a great opportunity to keep my mind fresh on the posing, positioning and to also just give huge credit the dedication of the athletes on stage and celebrate their achievements.

I never come away from a show having not picked up something new or presented new questions, there is always something to learn!

I’m at the PCA Universe next in Coventry in May and that will a great event to learn even more from!