Adapting to change and making opportunity…

The last 18 months has created a huge amount of unexpected change, for everyone. It’s been disorientating for many and without realising too much at the time it affected me greatly, but through breaking down elements, change was slowly processed and provided a blueprint for a very recent change in circumstance which I’d love to share with you now…

Due to circumstances outside of their control, my gym had a serious leak from an external residential block and subsequently closed for 5 weeks (gutting for the team as they had just got back from previous lockdowns). For gym members we had the option to visit other partner gyms within the city.

So, keen to keep a routine going and continue my prep this year, I went off to a partner gym across town, which was very welcoming. It had the same equipment but with the layout set out differently, a new journey and timings to navigate, it took a number of days to naturally adjust.

After finding some rhythm and settling in, the target of delivering my sessions kicked in and the work was done & still really enjoyable.

Leak fixed, I’m back at my usual gym, but what I found reviewing my short time at the partner gym in Yate was quite revealing. My initial thought process was one of uncertainly around navigating change, balanced within an unfamiliar setting but access to the equipment that I’m used to. That said, because of the layout change it unintentionally brought about more adaptions in my set range, which ended up working very well.

As a result of this I’ve managed to adapt some of my new movements & variations from those weeks back into my familiar gym setting and added it to my weekly set up.

With all the challenges that this last year has presented us, I think it has in some way positively affected the way I can review change quickly. I dare say, had the enforced temporary gym change happened 2 years ago it would taken me longer to settle. So my thinking is my experience over the last two years allowed me to tap into a mindset of “right, this is the situation, how can we get the best from it with what we have”.

This may not apply to every situation I face but I certainly want take something from this experience moving forward.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thank you Anytime Fitness Clifton & Anytime Fitness Yate, both fantastic clubs!!

Lessening The Impact…

As my training has developed over the years, the major hurdles that I’ve needed to change from a physical perspective has not only been working around “standard” equipment and being patient with learning what fits but to understand my body to greater degree as it gets older.

What I have found much more recently is a requirement to take the impact off my hands and feet in a quest to support dexterity issues and a different muscle structure on my left side. Put simply, having to utilise more cables and less pressure from bars.

I find barbells quite rigid to push and whilst, for me, a Smith Machine allows more secure lift, my cable work is where I get more versatility, particularly for chest work. I can feel the toll it takes on occasions on my left and it has been a reminder for me to check my volume and base of my training often.

With a good recovery period, it’s also to my advantage to ensure a wide of equipment and exercises can provide the variety that becomes essential to my weeks in the gym.

Attaching equipment to my forearms and wrist takes this pressure off my hands and as a result takes away grip issues. The most interesting part I’ve found with this is that I’m still learning every week! There is great joy in new discoveries by taking either an existing exercise with a new perspective for your unique journey and making it your own.

Using cables to isolate a bicep curl was a recent addition by providing the moment of a curl from a cable machine – which has been around for ages but creating my own way around my dexterity has provided another set to add to my week. My advice is just keep trying new things and it will bring new discoveries!

“But With Your Disability….”

Many a time, particularly growing up, this would said to me leading with an obstacle, but it needed to change…

So…No! We change it to…

“With my disability….”

I CAN approach things from a different perspective…

I CAN be creative (driving an automatic car)

I CAN build resilience needed for tough moments, to push through for those winter seasons and be ready for the spring.

I CAN share with the community. Social media has provided a powerful tool to engage with many in the same position as you and provided an opportunity to help those at their own beginning…

I CAN find the obstacle is the way! The fantastic book from Ryan Holiday really cemented my thinking of what I make of my path, so rather than trying to avoid or to get around things, I acknowledge obstacles ALONG on my way, they are there.,It’s my challenge to adapt and there is joy in that which can be shared.

So I say this….

With your disability…

You can.

We can.

Every Day.

The Disability Bodybuilding Podcast. Disability Fitness…Are We Doing Enough?

Awareness

Accessibility

Assistance

Can we do more? What can be done? I’m opening up a broader discussion to see how improvements can be made, to make things more accessible in the future. How can more individual tailored plans help everyone’s unique path in fitness and invite contributions into how this can be achieved.

https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-disability-bodybuilding-show/id1489748551?i=1000527495822

Disability Fitness – Are we doing enough?

Accessibility

Awareness

Assistance

Its a broad subject but it I’ll attempt to give my take and break some elements down with my experience and what I’ve found along the way.

In a sense, what is enough? Is there a goal / a finish line?

There are many pieces to this which not only makes it tricky to break down in one blog or pod but I think it comes down to something which everyone experiences with approaches to fitness: There will always be a need to create an individual plan.

Something else – Is Disability Fitness too broad a term? I’m not sure but I think we need to keep discussing what can be done to makes fitness accessible for everyone. To ensure everyone can have the opportunity to create a tailored, individual plan which suits their goals. If we, as a society continue to make strides to ensure that everyone who wants to get into fitness can source the tools, equipment and know how to help them reach their goals we will be in a good place to support what tweaks or adjustments can be made for individuals of future generations.

From my own experience, seeing people with my disability reach their fitness on social media lit that fire in me, one which, at its core, gave me that ignition to at least experiment in the gym. I kind of knew pretty early that if I was to get to where I wanted it would have to be “unconventional” – But then again we go back to everyone’s path will be different.

So I ask this, as we delve deeper in the weeks, whether it’s from personal experience or some suggestions, what would make fitness more accessible to you and the wider community?

I’d love to receive your answers / questions or suggestions!

Delving into the challenges of muscle building and development presented from dexterity issues.

Latest Podcast Episode of The Disability Bodybuilding Show – subscribe on Apple & Spotify!

Delving into the challenges of muscle building and development presented from dexterity issues.

From battling fears to finding solutions with attachments and lessons learnt!

https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-disability-bodybuilding-show/id1489748551?i=1000526764482

#Muscle #fitness #disability #workouts #dexterity #disabled #athlete #disability #disabilityawareness #cerebral #cerebralpalsy #CPawareness

Building My Own Two Teams…

The opportunity to build and develop muscle has taken me to different places physically and mentally over the last few years.

There are literally two sides to this story…My left side and right side. Generally, many people will enter a gym aware of a dominant side perhaps. The machines and equipment are likely set up (more often than not) for a joint tandem lift from both sides of the body.

In my case, with cerebral palsy, I found myself on an interesting path, literally having one dominant side throughout my life, which presented a conundrum….if I lifted weights, would I get bigger on only one side?

More to the point, would it be safe & healthy to do so?

It was a great initial fear. That said, it became (as is often the case) a question of just having to find the answer by ‘doing’. If I hadn’t tried and faced that, how would I ever know? I concluded that “hey, my right side is far bigger now anyway, if I develop a little muscle on my left somehow, it would be an achievement so why worry” and go for it…and that’s how it started.

What I have found, in my own experience in lifting, is that the two sides will grow at the level that they have always done…My right is bigger than it was, and you can see improvements on my left but visibly still very much behind but not out of proportion of where I was before I started.

They will never be the same size, that’s my make up with my disability, however I have long documented the joy in discovering the ways around the equipment to compensate dexterity issues, with much more focus as the variables in movement through attachments rather than overthink my issues with my grip.

I think I’m more at peace with my body now too, whether that is personal or a societal change, I no longer want to hide my hand or be “ashamed” of having a smaller side….Bloody Hell this is my one and only body, I’ve grown to love it!

The gym has proven to be a test, a challenge, for both sides of my body and my mind. I’m delighted to have the daily chance to get onto a platform and prove a few things to myself overall and set myself up for another day on this incredible planet….

The long haul (eventual) benefits of the hot, sweaty splints…

Try telling that to my 6 year old self though!!

Wearing splints growing up had a huge benefit to my physical development. The doctors recommended it, my parents knew it, but try telling that to a growing little boy at the height of summer, just wanting to rip it off at every opportunity!!

The persistence of guiding my younger self and teaching me about the long term benefits must have been such an onerous task for my parents, knowing now they simply wanted me to have the best quality of life later on so having to resist or put up with my natural stubbornness towards it is something I’m still incredibly grateful for.

Sneakily taking the splint off at night only to find the bloody thing reattached as they lovingly strapped it back is amusing to look back on, baffling at the magic at the time!!

I recount these stories, partly as a healing process, part to share it with the wider world as for too long I bottled this up, thinking it was something to hide – never wanting to wear shorts, tired of answering questions as a kid.

Now, to put these together, to draw something from them when an obstacle comes my way or helping others to process in any capacity is a joy and a privilege.

I felt as if though I was on a tiny island all those years ago but I feel a sense to document and use this positive energy of socials to explain it in some ways.

I do tire perhaps more easily nowadays with the energy consumption needed but to be able to slow things down, to take stock and understand how my body reacts to gym sets or adapting at work is something I mindfully grateful to understand why and react to it moving forward.

Bringing early physio lessons with me into later life…

Cerebral Palsy Physio Appointments. They started from early but I recall them from about the age of 5/6 onwards….

So picking up around 1991/2…8am. Another appointment at The General. Missing the start of school. Month after month. Assessment after assessment.

Stretching, pulling this way & that.

Checks. Measurements.

More checks.

This was a monthly (sometimes weekly) occurrence throughout my childhood. A seemingly never-ending route through corridors to a cold basement-like physio room to check my progress. It was relentless, yet rather normal in someways, much as I’ve said before, I grew with cerebral palsy, so in some ways that helped.

As irritating as it would become, it had become a routine, something I instinctively knew I had to get use too. Practices / Exercises put into place to take home with me to work on – long before I was set anything from school – then to come back and see if things were going in the right direction, along with a host of splints on both hand and leg.

However, somewhere lessons from these were emerging, seeds planted to help me later…

This was a literal long haul pursuit of the right growth pattern. The theory being that if anything seemed out of synch, (that being my hand or leg growing in the wrong direction) it could be picked up early, corrected and set back on the right track, month after month.

I know full well, approaching mid life, that had it not been for those early practices and disciplines, there’s a strong chance I’d be in even more greater pain now had it not been for the constant requirement to hammer home the importance of stretching, discipline of wearing often painful splints day and night and ensuring I knew how to work around and with my disability. It was not going away. I had to get used to that.

Looking back, a daily practice had been installed so early, that it built an internal resilience strong enough to withstand my adolescent stubbornness and gift me some lessons to take into adulthood.

So when I get asked questions about the “madness” of my early get ups, or fitness routines & habits, its helped me push on knowing a tweak here and there, to pick up and correct a path I want and need to be on, knowing that it’s a marathon not a sprint and making those corrections to ensure you’re as ready as you can be for what life will throw your way, one that may not give you everything you want straight away, but that pursuit will develop you as a person and provide strength

At some point, I will delve deeper in those early days as writing has helped bring some of those memories bring further meaning in how that set some courses in my life at the time.

Keep tweaking, keep stretching and take care.

Harnessing Day One…Every Day

That new programme, the fresh start, the comeback? The leap, the drive, the impetus….The Springboard.

Whatever the reason for your Day One, it just feels good, right?

I love a Day One, but I’m aware of the importance of trying to attach the right approach to it, a plan to enable that feeling to thrive, and for it not to become surppressed after a few days or weeks.

I’ve been in a position where that initial bubble gets burst or it gets sent off track and I craved for that start up feeling once more.

The trap I fell into, and this was particularly evident at the gym was sticking to EXACTLY the same thing week after week after week with NO CHANGES. Now I’m not saying you should just quit – but even if you smaller tweaks throughout to keep it fresh, I’ve found has helped in a fantastic way.

I’ve recently started a new Day One with a plan to deliver small changes in various areas in the gym, personal development and mindset, trying a few tweaks with a number of weeks planned out with an end goal set toward the end of year. Compounding these has helped, the great Darren Hardy talked those changes in his best selling book, The Compound Effect.

If some of those smaller changes don’t not quite work, these can be switched quite readily and changed in the plan going forward.

I’ll document the good and the challenges over the next few weeks, trying to take positives from the pitfalls and failures that may come with it too and lessons from it all!