So this time I’d like to talk about going to the gym in regards to being disabled and what I get out of it. I have been going to gyms off and on. I started at a small gym and went in with a reasonable level of fitness, I used to walk 1km a day up hill, I was given a pretty simple programme and my trainer was a triathlete. My goal at the time was to run the Auckland Round the bays, an 8.6 km fun run. I trained every second day and still walked 1km there and back. I can’t tell you why I ran it I really just needed a goal on my application and that’s what I wrote. I completed the run in 106 minutes, I did this on crutches and my hands had blisters the size of biscuits, I have done it 3 more times and never got near that speed.
Recently I have started back at the gym. Partly due to weight and also because I was bored. The gym I now go to is moderate in size and easy to get to from work. It’s a 10 minute bus ride. It’s quite accessible for someone on crutches. My membership is for 6 months currently. 55% is subsidies ed by The Cerebral Palsy society of New Zealand the rest is paid by me. I do a weights and cardio based programme designed to increase muscle and stamina. I don’t need a weight loss programme as any form of exercise will automatically result in loss of weight.
There are many types of people there. This place is often referred to as a mums gym, but there are former All Blacks, Body builders, gym bunnies, old people, really old people, average people, angry people, vain people but there’s also a kind of optimism. I don’t want to make it sound like a cult but people just seem happy to be there. If your disabled going to the gym isn’t about looking good it’s about improving your quality of life. So that I’m not worn out by the end of the working day.
You’ll meet all sorts of people and you can have a quick chat if you want or you can take a pair of headphones block the world out and focus yourself. For me there is one day where I am on the rowing machine for 30 minutes. It should be really monotonous and boring but I find myself in a kind of meditation and I think through things. It has been pretty helpful when dealing with writers block. For some socialising can be an issue. Going out to a club or bar is great but it can be problematic not every bar has disabled access or you can be knocked around by drunk patrons. So the social aspect is a great bonus.
I feel I should talk more about the cost. If I wasn’t subsidies d I would look into cheaper options or I would just return to doing really long walks. For example walking from work to the city is a little bit over 1km so I could do that everyday (currently two magpies are nesting in that direction so I avoid them) Universities and YMCA’s are some cheaper alternatives. If you know someone who is disabled who might be interested they should talk to a physio or GP to see what exercise could benefit them and if there’s anything they should avoid. An instructor will initially just want to know what their physical limits are, following that they’ll go away for a few days and draw up a programme for you designed to help you reach your goals be clear but realistic about what you want. I’d love a six pack but it ain’t happening anytime soon, sorry anyone who’s seen me without a shirt.
Here’s a link to the programme that provides my subsidy. I had to approach the gym myself and their manager approved it.
This is for people with cerebral palsy but each disability will have some sort of organisation setup for it. I encourage you to look around and see what’s available for you or for someone you know.