A fitness fanatic who felt “mocked” and “out of place” in a mainstream gym has co-founded a specialist centre in the home of his personal trainer.
Jake Leonard, 22, who has cerebral palsy, said he found equipment un-adjustable and out of reach from his wheelchair.
The new gym in Milton Keynes now helps more than 40 people with a range of mental health and physical needs.
Mr Leonard said he wanted to “break the rules” and “challenge limits”.
Mr Leonard, who works in a special needs school, said he had “caught the gym bug”.
“I’ve now done things I never thought I could, like pull-ups and leg presses. I want to maintain and improve my level of fitness – and live a fulfilled life,” he said.
His trainer, Glen Morgan, said “alarm bells rang” when a gym receptionist could not understand Mr Leonard’s stammer over the phone.
The two men set up Boom Power Performance Coaching in Mr Morgan’s home in Brooklands.
“This lad was paying full price membership and couldn’t get through the front door,” he said.
“He felt ridiculed and mocked.
“At the start he couldn’t move one side, lift one arm or feel his legs. Now he’s boxing.”
The business has adaptable gym equipment and Mr Morgan said customers range from wheelchair users and people with brain injuries, to those with confidence issues and ADHD.
The disabilities charity Leonard Cheshire said gyms are often a “crucial first point of entry” to physical activity, but many disabled people felt they were “no-go zones” with “inaccessible changing rooms, steps, poor staff training and lack of usable sports equipment” cited as common barriers.
Activity Alliance – formerly the English Federation of Disability Sport – lists just 56 gyms across England that incorporate facilities for people with disabilities.
source: BBC NEWS