Best Wishes to our Paralympic Athletes!

Each putting their sport on the map…Again!

After the success of the Olympics, our summer of sport continues with the Paralympics launching in Tokyo this week.

I love the competition, the stories and team coming together throughout these weeks we are witnessing. I was massively inspired in 2012 & 2016 after these events, to try new things, to have a go and see how far I could push my body, to figure how to adapt to different sports and I credit a large amount of that to our athletes from both games for giving me that push…

Yes, I’ve documented my journey in bodybuilding but I’ve also taken on the Newport Velodrome where our Para athletes had been training before Rio. Check out the pics below…it is impressively steep!! PS THE BIKES ALSO HAVE NO BRAKES!!

Anyway, here’s to more adventure, success and enjoyment for all our athletes out in Japan!

Trying Everything…

About a decade has passed since I cautiously went into a gym with hardly any experience and pretty scared of the free weights section all those years ago.

It takes a while to familiarise yourself. With the equipment, the environment & the variations that can used for a variety of different goals.

Making a swift decision to want to try EVERYTHING in there ended up being worthwhile in the long one, taking the time to not just work out what was available but how to adapt with them.

That’s not to say I can use every piece as it should be used but taking the time to slowly unpick the equipment to isolate the muscle groups needed in my workout continues to pay off to this day.

Yes I have my favourite pieces of equipment and go-to’s on a weekly basis but the more variation available, the more fun can be had with different ranges!

“Trusting The Process” Mid-Prep for a competition…

It’s a phrase I’ve seen a lot of recently in the years I’ve been competing, one which holds much meaning.

To me, it signifies a point where the results of your work are starting to pay off, it’s a marathon not a sprint and putting the structure in place to see you through to your target.

I’ve found reminding yourself of this tremendously helps with the ‘off-days’ shall we say. Let’s get real, going through any prep for a competition is tough. It won’t all be plain sailing, there may be some self doubt there or simply sessions that don’t quite click as they could. Over the course of many weeks and months those moments in my experience, surface at various times and it’s part of the journey for me to acknowledge those feelings as much as anything.

Trusting the process has played a huge part in keeping the reassurance there that having the right plan and sticking to the path will build week on week and progress will happen.

If it’s been a great week or indifferent, you got this!

Reviewing the growing momentum of disability sport!

With so much disruption over the last 18 months you’d be forgiven for thinking that maybe it’ll take a while for momentum to start build again toward opportunities to compete across the board in any sport given that restrictions have only just lifted.

However, over the last few weeks and very much on the horizon ahead, there are many events taking place that have disability categories within their different programmed events.

Now, whether this is more apparent through recent research, but I’m noticing a greater number of opportunities come up this year like never before…and I have to say it’s bloody marvellous that this is the case!

From a bodybuilding perspective, my sport of choice to compete in, within the UK we have the PCA, with a number of events supporting a disability category as always through to the end of the year. New federation, FITX also have a mixed disability category, both of which have featured some fantastic athletes already! On a wider scale & on a personal basis I’m looking forward to eventually fulfilling the dream of entering the disability bodybuilding category in the PCA USA which continue to have opportunities in Florida…

Then there is the Pro Olympia Wheelchair Competition taking place this October in Orlando.

Together with the adaptive CrossFit divisions that have just been awarded this week and the upcoming Paralympics in Japan, this all adds up to what is an incredible springboard of development in disability sport.

To finish this week, I’d also like to congratulate Mark Smith and his Peterborough United FC teammates for wining their FA Disability Cup (one of five finals held at the magnificent St George’s Park, with BT Sport providing live coverage on the finals)!!

It’s delightful to come across so much opportunity across so many sports – can there be more? Of course, but as we’ve just reviewed above, there is SO much to celebrate, enjoy and challenge for this year and it’s gets better and better!

Give all you got my friends!! Let’s do this!!

Reflections: Where do we go?

More than half way through 2021 would you believe?!

I keep tabs on things on a weekly basis, for two major reasons, to look forward and plot the days ahead & to review time that has passed to reflect & to see how far things have come.

This also helps me tweak things a little without wild drastic changes day to day in any discipline be that workout set ups or nutrition.

I’ll have goals through the year but I’ll always know how many weeks until my target, restrictions allowing!

Reflecting back on such a winter where there was no set week in which to plot my gym time was the hardest element in restructuring things for me personally in the first 3 months of the year. Knowing that come April, any potential targets for 2021 would have to be set in the Autumn at a competing level, but I did learn to take things day by day by the spring. It was a challenging mindset shift but one I can now benefit from.

As for my training, learning to once again reshape routine, as disruptive as it was at the start of the year has provided so many lessons, from limitations with equipment to the joy of mixing things back up when returning to the gym. Looking back provides the reassurance of how far you’ve come, experience gained and why you do the training in the first place. Yes it’s to gain muscle, but first and foremost reason was movement and the joy of it.

I feel I almost needed to slow a lot of things down during the lockdown, especially the 3rd round of it, trying to prepare for another, just in case. So whilst I struggled with a dissolved routine, creating new ones help build upon new experience to take forward.

The Disability Bodybuilding Show…

New podcast is LIVE! Available via Apple & Spotify…

A little story about adapting to a recent change…

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…

https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-disability-bodybuilding-show/id1489748551?i=1000529688762

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