“Hi I’m Tyler aged 12, I like to train at Elevate gym to keep fit. I
was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at 11 months old and use a wheelchair for my daily life. I have always had physio but I find it a bit mundane now I’m at
secondary school, hitting the gym is much cooler. I love watching people of all
abilities train when I’m there as it motivates me.
My personal trainer Dan Cumberworth has been working with me for nearly 3 years, shortly after my double hip replacement. My mum who is no spring chicken has also started to train at the gym as she needs to keep strong to help me. She says it’s not only good for her body
but good for her mind too.
My goals are to self transfer from one chair to another, so I can
drive a car when I’m old enough, so I work hard on my upper body
strength at the gym, but I can now walk the length of the gym using
my walking frame which I have found a challenge since my hip replacements.
Elevate makes me feel it’s about my ability not my disability.”
This week we spoke with Karen about her sons’ experience working with us at Elevate and with Dan for the past three years. Here’s what she had to say:
What has it been like working with Dan over the past 3 years to help achieve Tyler’s goals?
It’s taken a lot of weight off my shoulders as it’s difficult being his mum, physio and personal trainer. We started to get to a point where we didn’t want to do it anymore and Tyler was getting really bored going to the physio centre. However, Dan has changed that for us and has given him a lot of motivation and confidence.
How has Dan supported your journey?
He has always remained positive. My journey with Tyler has been difficult as doctors, physio’s and schools always focused on what he can’t do. After a double hip replacement surgery at just 8 years old, Tyler was told he would never be able to walk. Working with Dan has been different, he always remains positive and focuses on the can’s and what Tyler is capable of as opposed to the cant’s which we hear so often. Sometimes when Tyler lacks motivation, like the rest of us, I just tell him we’ll just go to have a chat with Dan instead and I find every session after that he just works harder. We get so much more out of him than before.
Dan really does put up for Tyler, he’s got his best interest at heart. He’s currently looking into getting a harness for the running machine, providing Tyler with more independence as he gets older and even during Covid Dan would check-in with Tyler on Facetime making sure he was ok and staying on track.
What is it about Elevate that excites Tyler more than Physio?
I think it’s the fact he doesn’t see it as medical, more of a fitness thing. It’s not about the cant’s its about what you can do at Elevate. After being told he will never walk again by doctors it was hard giving that motivation to Tyler, so It was great to have someone like Dan come on and encourage him after this. He’s all about the positive attitude.
How has and Dan’s support and coming to the gym impacted Tyler’s confidence?
Three years ago, when we first started working with Dan, Tyler couldn’t have anyone else working in the gym as he was very sensitive to the noise, any loud noises and he would jump and cry. Last Thursday we were training whilst a class was happening, there were weights crashing and music and it didn’t bother him, there’s no way Tyler would have reacted in that way before. I think it’s easy for people to forget about the sensory issues that can come along with a disability. It’s that fight or flight moment, but Tyler can’t get away from that situation so it’s great that he has that confidence at Elevate.
I think the trust that has been built between Dan and Tyler over the years has had a massive impact on this response to noise. He trusts him so much that he even managed to get Tyler to launch himself into a crash mat! (Of course, Dan got me to lead by example). But he is always being creative with the excises and is great at assisting Tyler doing them too.
As Tyler is coming into his teenage year’s I think the gym will provide even more of a confidence boost as it will become a space where he can be independent, something any young teenager would crave. I can’t see any reason why I wouldn’t feel comfortable dropping him off and leaving him for an hour at Elevate with Dan. I know he won’t want me hanging around and it’s somewhere I feel confident leaving him.
What are you overall thoughts about Elevate as a gym for someone with a disability?
I think it’s important to highlight to people how accessible Elevate is. The doors open – up leading you straight into the gym allowing you to avoid the reception area and the disabled bathroom is large and has a shower which is great. I have had bad experiences in the past where accessibility has been a big issue however, at Elevate he’s Just like any other kids he doesn’t feel his restrictions.
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