Cerebral Palsy – What have I Iost?

My two little girls have, at various times asked me in that direct, curious way they would with anything that fascinates them “Daddy, what’s it like having one smaller hand?”….

In some ways it’s easy to answer as I don’t know any different. You could argue that a different path has been forged for me having CP from birth as opposed to an accident during my life, as I’ve grown into the condition. It has always been and will always be part of me, so I tell them I haven’t lost anything really, have I? I don’t think I have.

The challenge for me is not worrying about the size of my hand but more so how to grow into a life that is not designed around the way my body is structured…and I believe it is this very issue that so many (myself included) fight to rebalance and for society to take better notice of.

There is structure, a standard that is created that caters for many but not all and more voices need to be heard / understood to break through this.

So while yes, I gratefully state to my little girls, that I feel grateful to have not “lost” anything, I don’t want to miss things either. Opportunity in front of me, for them and for everybody – We need to find our path to get there.

My challenges I’m looking to explore in this world is how to make those opportunities even more accessible, even just by a little.

There are competing priorities in this world for sure, but its a valuable mission I can undertake to help make choices to ensure many I can help be heard. Through highlighting issues, celebrating progress or pain / challenges…one movement at a time.

There are a number of “Whys”…

There a number of factors that often make up our “why”

Why do I want to do bodybuilding?

To prove something to myself?

For Current me?

For Past me?

Or Future me?

The current me wants to keep improving, to know that I have built a foundation, but not yet finished with lots more to learn and grow from…

The past why often wondered if I could do anything in the gym with limitations, often lacking self belief, too scared to further break down a untried and tested body. Too worried about what people thought and left hurt…

I owe it to future me to keep going, to further explore, to break down barriers I might even know exist yet. To ensure the path is bright and even more accessible for others, in fact future me is far less about self and more about leaving places a little better for others than they once were.

The are so many whys which make up the decisions taken to train, keep myself fit and continue to explore the possibilities and opportunities that sometimes right in front of us…

Here’s to the 2022 season!!

Sitting on a wave of an elastic band….

I’ve often referred to contest prep as stretching an elastic band, experimenting how far it can be pulled without snapping. Extending it a little, holding it steady, maybe relaxing the tension now and again – but being in control of energy around it.

It’s been a good way to explain how feel during a prep season and much like when it’s finished, I’m careful not to just let it go quickly, they sting if its not controlled!

I rather like to ease off slowly from the build up of the excitement and adrenaline after a show, I’ve often felt a sense of loss of structure at the end of the season & that feeling did briefly return this week so I’m careful to place some planned routines in…even if that that plan involved some flexibility for 4/5 days.

Time to recharge the batteries is crucial, I’ve not been great in previous years of recognising that, but as I get older and gain further experience, planning for the release of tension has been a key in setting up the next plan…

Preparing for Another Day One…

It was the very end of the World Chanpionships in 2018 and the emotion came at me like a wave, I wasn’t expecting to be sat in the foyer in the Birmingham Repertory Theatre that day tearful the journey was over. I’d done a number of bodybuilding shows that year, to prove to myself I could get better, to help the exposure of the disability class and learn much from the events themselves, but then it was over, now what?

Revisiting now, it’s easier to say focus on improvements, stronger points to take forward into the following year but it was still a feeling I couldn’t escape for a while.

I’ve read many recounts since of people being a similar position after competing across a range of disciplines, particularly involving a structured routine who faced the challenge of now what, tackling future endeavours and learning how to “turn the page” on this great journey of ours.

Moving forward, this week I’ve mapped out as much as I can to bring the best package at the weekend for the British Finals – but with a glance at what the aftermath will now feel like in the knowledge it’s a long term ambition – to certainly develop continuous improvements together, bringing more help and access to the sport I love..and that never ends.

The chance will come to reflect, take stock and gradually build into a fresh routine and new challenges. One thing I do love is to discover the many roads that can be taken to further support our platform or learn even more about sport while figuring out where and what to personally achieve.

But first, The PCA British Finals awaits!

The growing opening of opportunities for the disabled community…

It can get better, I know. There is so much growth in this space to push and achieve. It’s been too long to turn around many issues on numerous occasions through the years..

HOWEVER!

There is a movement, a number of people and organisations that are spearheading some fantastic opportunities for the disabled community and/or continue to break barriers on a wider scale which reach society further and provide support to bridge gaps they need to be altered.

Yes, there are many gaps still to explore and solve, but it is getting better. I say this as I build a social media feed full of empowering people with a disability and the changes that are being made, brilliant organisations and individuals driving things forward.

I love to fill my feed with news and updates from the likes of…

The Valuable 500 – The global movement putting disability on the business leadership agenda.

Zebedee – A modelling agency representing people with disabilities

And…

Sophie Butler, an amazing GymShark athlete helping empower women and social change…

James Sutliffe – Disability specialist coach…helping so many people with their goals.

Give them a follow!

So while Yes, there are difficult discussions and challenges to have today and ahead, there is also so much good being done, action being taken, It’s important to survey the great work driving change right now.

Thank you to everyone making a difference, it means so much!

Chipping Away…

As with most of previous ‘preps’ for a competition, the onus has been on those last few defining elements of the hard work put in during the last few weeks and months.

Maybe specific areas to focus on, definition, sharpness, conditioning but I’ve also found myself chipping away at many elements that reflect a collective part of the whole process….

Trying to continually sharpen my knowledge of my body. Chipping away at the depths of my understanding. What does it to react during this period? It’s understood that tiredness can play a part in prep but as with CP it tends to creep in earlier and managing it on a day to day.

I’ve been privileged to do a number of shows over the last few years and each present it’s own challenges. I want to try new exercises often, with that brings some barriers to navigate to make them effective and the need to study my approach to some pieces of equipment.

There is a balance I feel between being in a place where everyone has the same availability of equipment in the gym but also having to look at the ways I have to adapt to each piece. It’s quite the conundrum at times but, in quirky way, I love it. It challenges me mentally as well as physically starting an initial thought process of ‘how the hell can I use this’ to identifying the best use for the targeted muscle area.

This is what I mean by “chipping away” the consistent process of working out what is best to get THE BEST for your body and mind in line with your goals that you have set.

The Stage – Before, During & Beyond…

I absolutely love bodybuilding shows. I love my time on stage, however I also try to totally immerse myself in the whole experience throughout a weekend.

If I’m competing (like I did this past weekend in Birmingham) I find myself preparing hour by hour from about 2 days out to the time our category is called up.

After which is also a great time to stay around to learn from others. Generally speaking the disability class tends to be toward the start of day so there’s a lot to think about in the evening before / morning of. I thrive best when I prepare so knowing where I’m at is key.

Having been in the sport for 5/6 years now I’ve developed some great relationships around the shows and what is lovely is that there’s always opportunities to meet new people too and develop some great friendships year after year – it’s such a vibrant experience so it’s always worth soaking up this atmosphere.

The PCA Midlands was another great event. I was back in Birmingham for they first time since before the pandemic, experiencing the familiar surroundings and catching up with friends just added to the occasion. The show itself was superb, full of encouragement, positivity and energy and as always an opportunity to learn and develop.

Grateful as ever for the opportunity to compete with federations offering a disability class – it provides great accessibility and diversity in the sport we love.

Securing a 1st place and an invite to the British Finals served up the icing on the cake but the memories will also be one of a celebration of many friends who either competed, met back up again and rejoiced that bodybuilding is back again this year and it’s better than ever!

Back to the Show Day Podcast

It’s a special episode this week as I take you through some highlights from last weekends Bodybuilding Show!

1st up it’s the FIT X Federation South Coast in Bournemouth – really thankful for an opportunity to compete not too far to go – and it proved be a fabulous weekend – meeting up with friends, making new ones and even dinner with my Brother whom I hadn’t seen in 2 years!

More to come this week as I head to Birmingham for the PCA, again I can’t wait to see some old friends and get my trunks on again to promote disability Bodybuilding!

Thanks as ever for listening hope you enjoy and we’ll see you next week!

Available through Apple or Spotify…

https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-disability-bodybuilding-show/id1489748551?i=1000535567381

Taking in Show Day!!

For me, when it comes to a show, it’s the cherry on top of the work that has been put in during the proceeding weeks and month. With our latest content being the week leading into an event, I’ve penned some thoughts as to the actual show days themselves.

Early to Rise….

Quite typically I don’t get always get a great nights sleep the evening before. Now, I know this doesn’t sound like a great kick off but there are some factors that balance this and some practical ones too!

One is bedding! I always take my own to a hotel in case the base tan runs and to keep myself cool but mainly it’s running over the following day trying to get my head in the right frame but the other factor also the excitement of the morning ahead.

I was always want to wake early ahead of the top coat of tan, more often than not the disability category is near the start of the show so getting to the venue early is the norm, which I like as it sets the day up nicely.

The objective for me after the top coat is to find some quiet space, a walk, a podcast, grabbing some food prepared and taking in the surroundings.

From 9ish I’ll grab a espresso then just take in the buzz from the venue, it slowly builds and it’s nice to see who is competing so it’s great to connect with some fellow competitors, whilst being respectful of those who just want time to themselves of course.

Sussing where you need to be and when for a pre contest pump up and readiness to hit the stage all calms those nerves so getting to the athletes meeting no matter how many times I’ve competed is essential.

Time to shine…

Time on stage seems to goes quick even though I know we’re typically up there for a while, I’ve never felt rushed which is fab – all competitors will get their time to hit their poses and try to soak it all in.

Post category…

I love my time on stage – the build up, meeting friends again but I always loving staying for the rest of show if I can. I may be done but I want to learn, to meet & support those in other categories If capacity allows – it’s a bodybuilding show after all – I see it as an incredible learning tool!

Yes I’ll get myself a post stage treat but I love watching the celebrations, the effort and guidance being provided – it’s an inspiring place to be!

The journey home…

A great time to reflect, to take stock and to gather myself ready for the next challenge!!