Disabled gym instructors can ‘inspire a generation’ through Paralympic legacy programme

Instructability, a training programme providing disabled people with free, accessible fitness industry training are looking for IFI Mark facilities to provide their candidates with the opportunity of gaining 12 week's work experience.  The candidates qualified to REP's level 2 are required during their placement to provide marketing and outreach support to engage with disabled people in the local community to promote physical activity.

Here are a few of the stories from Instructability candidates to date…,

John’s story

John Parfitt from Cobham has a spinal cord injury which he sustained in a car accident and has left him a full time wheelchair user. However, John is proving that this is no barrier to a successful career in the fitness industry and now there is an opportunity for other unemployed, disabled people to follow in his path.

John was given free fitness instructor training through the InstructAbility scheme, designed by Aspire, the national spinal cord injury charity and YMCAfit, the leading fitness industry training provider.

John has previously represented Great Britain in wheelchair tennis and wheelchair rugby. He says,

When I was first injured, I went to use a local gym and I felt that the instructors either weren’t skilled or didn’t have time to go through a fitness programme with me – they just told me to use a hand bike. Through InstructAbility, I’ve learned about a variety of different things on offer for disabled gym users. InstructAbility has enabled me to gain more knowledge of different disabilities, whilst also taking this learning and applying it to my own fitness training methods. I hope to go on to gain a Level 3 personal training qualification and to eventually become a tennis coach. InstructAbility has given me an important first step towards that goal.

 Hilary Farmiloe from Aspire says,

The success of the 2012 Paralympic Games has raised aspirations of disabled people as well as changing other people's attitudes. Even though John is an elite athlete he was still daunted by the prospect of a standard training course. We understand that physical access is not the only issue for disabled people and sometimes the psychological barriers are even greater.

Dorit’s Story

Dorit Chomer, from Harrow, is 58 years old and has recently qualified as a gym instructor. She is proving that age is no barrier to a career in the fitness industry and neither is disability.

Many years ago the adventurous, Dorit, sustained a spinal injury when landing from a parachute jump, however it was more recent events involving two strokes and heart surgery that left Dorit feeling that her active lifestyle was over and that she no longer had a valuable role in society. The culmination of events caused Dorit to lose confidence, she became isolated and withdrawn which led to clinical depression.

Dorit’s outlook on life is now full of positivity since she joined the InstructAbility programme. The scheme was created by Aspire, the spinal injury charity and YMCAfit, to enable unemployed, disabled people to train as gym instructors. Thes instructors then work to engage more disabled people in fitness sessions.

Dorit says,

Being in a work environment for the first time in 3 years is a wonderful feeling. I thought that my contribution in life was over but this project has made me realize that I have worth, I have potential and I can still make a difference in people's lives, whilst transforming my own.

Hilary Farmiloe from Aspire says,

Although the 2012 legacy focused on inspiring the younger generation, there is potential to engage people across all sections of society including the older generation and it is fantastic to see Dorit doing just that. Funding from Sport England means that we are now running courses across the country to enable more unemployed, disabled people to access this free training. InstructAbility graduates are an asset to the industry and can play a key role in inspiring other people to get fit.

Injured Soldiers story

Maurillia Simpson (38), a Royal Logistics driver and communications specialist, had done three tours in Iraq when she had to be dug out after two incoming mortars buried her. After rehabilitation in the UK, she was posted to Germany where she was knocked off a pavement by a vehicle on her way back from a regimental PT session. Having played an array of sports at Army and Combined Services level, she joined the InstructAbility programme to train as a gym instructor and seek a new career in the fitness industry. Maurillia is now walking with the aid of a stick and is undertaking a work placement with Fitness First who are keen to support the InstructAbility Project.

This programme is something positive to focus on," she said. "You can’t overestimate that.

 Spencer Vaughan (25), joined the Royal Marines five years ago but his forces career has been forced to end due to a spinal cord injury. Spencer hit his head in a diving accident whilst on adventure training, the injury resulted in paralysis. Spencer says of his injury,

You just have to get on with it. You have to deal with it and focus on what you have got and what you can do. I still have goals and still want to achieve and I hope I can inspire and motivate other people to move forward with their lives. I joined the InstructAbility course so I could stay in an active environment as that’s been such a big part of my life.

Spencer has been offered employment at Plymouth Life Centre following a successful gym instructor placement.

Hilary Farmiloe, InstructAbility Project Manager says,

We are pleased to support career transition for injured service personnel. Many individuals with military experience are knowledgeable about physical fitness and possess good communication and leadership skills which make them ideal gym instructors. Spencer and Maurillia have shown that it is a viable career option for wounded soldiers leaving the armed forces.

Full details, including a video about the project click on this link.

If you are interested in providing a work placement opportunity at your facility or a candidates wishing to apply for the course call 07917 822977 or email for further information.