Almost everyone finds their first visits to the gym a little daunting. Even if you are sure of your fitness, going to a new room to exercise in front of other people is intimidating, and this feeling is likely to be enhanced if you have a disability.
Jay Moir is a wheelchair user with cerebral palsy who decided to go to the gym after gaining weight. Since then, Moir has lost almost five stones and qualified as a fitness trainer. He has also noticed that his mental health and physical fitness have improved.
We spoke to Moir to ask him for advice for people with disabilities who want to go to the gym regularly.
How did you get started?
I got fit three years ago after gaining weight over three stones. I downloaded MyFitnessPal and was able to see where I was wrong with my diet. I also started going to the gym six days a week, focusing on strength and mild cardio. With this combination, I was able to lose almost five stones in just over a year.
Have you tried out some types of exercises before choosing your favorites?
I played wheelchair basketball for a couple of years, but I struggled to focus on it because I was concentrating on my workout in the gym. So I decided to quit basketball and spend all my time getting stronger and training hard.
What are the challenges of cerebral palsy in training? How do you overcome them?
I am lucky enough to be able to step out of my chair onto the equipment in the gym. So it̵
What advice do you have for people with disabilities who want to do sports?
Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t. You don’t have to lift big, heavy weights – just do what feels best or most comfortable for you, and I guarantee that these feel-good endorphins will start to flow.
My biggest fear of going to the gym was being “the guy in a wheelchair”, but I soon found that everyone in the gym was there for their own reasons and would not judge you. If anything, they will praise you and will most likely offer assistance when needed.
How important is it for you to exercise regularly? Does it also help with your mental health?
It is very important for me to exercise every day. When I don’t, I feel terrible, tired, uncomfortable and just drained. That’s why I always make sure that I exercise, whether I’m in the mood or not, because I always feel great afterwards and I know that my body will thank me in the long run.
What made you become a qualified trainer?
Becoming an instructor was important to me because going to the gym changed my life. If I can share my knowledge and experience and give people the tools to put themselves physically and mentally in a better position, then I think I can help many people – both people with disabilities and people with disabilities.
I also decided to post my workouts and trip on my blog and Instagram so that I could easily document them for myself and share them with others. If people take something positive from my content, so much the better!