Wheely Good Fitness: Adapting Fitness Training for Wheelchair Users – Tom Comyns

Modifying any fitness regime for different abilities is a key requirement of strength and conditioning coaches or Physical Education teachers. During the last academic year PESS hosted a two day workshop in adapted strength and conditioning training. This workshop was delivered by Kris Saunders-Stowe from Wheely Good Fitness (https://wheelygoodfitness.com/). In collaboration with Dr Rosie Gowran of the Clinical Therapies department in UL, Dr Tom Comyns and Oliver White from the PESS Department are also undertaking research currently into the health benefits of a modified strength and conditioning program for wheelchair users. This involves testing of key health and fitness related variables before and after a 12 week strength and conditioning intervention.

Kris is the Founder of Wheely Good Fitness which provides unique and modern fitness classes to wheelchair users and the disabled community. Kris is a wheelchair user and he aims to demonstrate to others who live with a disability that it does not need to be a barrier to life.  Kris advocates that anything is possible when those with a disability like himself, change the way they view their own abilities and lives. The aim of Wheely Good Fitness is to ensure that people living with a disability are able to take part in and benefit equally from varying fitness activities suited to their individual needs, to ensure an understanding of how lack of exercise affects their health, and to help remove personal and social barriers to enable everyone to freely take part in physical activities.

During the 2 day workshop Kris meet with the research team in PESS who are undertaking the adapted strength and conditioning research and delivered three by two hour workshops to students, staff and community groups. ULBeo supported the delivery of these workshops as did the PESS and Clinical Therapies departments in UL and Invacare (wheelchair providers). The workshops were well received and attended by well in excess of 150 participants over the two days. All participants actively participated in the workshops and developed an appreciation and understanding of how to modify strength and conditioning programmes to cater for all abilities.

Adapted strength and conditioning session provision is an area of the fitness industry that is somewhat lacking. There are numerous classes on offer for able-bodied participants and this is not the case for wheelchair users. Through workshops such as this and our adapted strength and conditioning research in UL we aim to increase awareness, knowledge and expertise in this area.

Tom Comyns is a Lecturer in Human Movement Science in the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences. View Tom’s profile here !  Contact Tom at tom.comyns@ul.ie

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