Get yourself active blog

Disabled Fitness Instructor Project Reaches Final of National Lottery Awards

Thursday 29 June 2017

InstructAbility, a training programme run by spinal injury charity Aspire, to help disabled people start a career in the fitness industry, has been shortlisted for the National Lottery Awards ‘Best Sport Project’. Winners in each category are decided by public vote which opens on 29 June and runs until 27 July.

InstructAbility provides disabled people with a path to employment, but also makes the sector more inclusive and encourages other disabled people to enjoy an active lifestyle.

Research shows there is a significant gap between disabled and non-disabled people’s sporting participation because of numerous barriers such as accessibility, how disabled people see themselves and the attitudes of other people.


InstructAbility participants, who have impairments ranging from physical and sensory to mental health conditions, complete a YMCAfit training course to qualify as gym instructors with a disability specialism. They then undertake a 12 week voluntary placement. Afterwards they are encouraged to progress into paid work, with many developing into group exercise instructors, personal trainers, rehabilitation specialists and setting up their own businesses.

More than 300 people have qualified as fitness professionals and volunteered in leisure facilities across the country, thanks to National Lottery funding via Sport England.  These trainers have delivered 70,000 fitness sessions with disabled clients and helped to raise awareness of disability among staff and other customers.  Half the participants have moved into paid employment.

Gary Puddifoot working as a gym instructor

Gary Puddifoot, 32, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) ten years ago and is a full time wheelchair user.  With help from InstructAbility, Gary got a job at a leisure centre in Stratford.

Gary says:


“At first, I thought people wouldn’t listen to me because of my impairment but through the training and the support I received, my confidence as an instructor grew. I found I could relate to people better because I understood the challenges that they were facing.

“I absolutely love my job. I have a particular desire to get those with impairments or health conditions involved with fitness, and my story goes to prove that disability does not dictate what you can and can’t do in life.”

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, one of Britain’s greatest Paralympians and chair of ukactive,  sees InstructAbility as a programme that not only helps to change individual lives but has an impact across the whole physical activity sector.  In supporting the National Lottery Award finalist she said:

“There needs to be a

Tanni Grey-Thomspon, Chair of ukactive

fundamental shake-up of our approach to bring physical activity for disabled people into the mainstream, but there have been encouraging strides taken in recent years and InstructAbility deserves a lot of credit for this.

“The initiative is carrying out vital work to diversify our workforce by helping disabled people to gain the skills, training and opportunities to build careers in the physical activity sector based solely on merit.

“It is a great example of a proactive step towards being the all-inclusive physical activity sector that we aspire to be, whether it is in our workforce or our end users, by attracting new people through our doors who might have previously felt our services were not for them – both disabled people and the wider population.

“If every organisation in the physical activity sector shares a fraction of this commitment, we can increase diversity and demonstrate that this truly is a forward-thinking sector ready to deliver the increasingly important role that it will play in the future of our nation.”

Hilary Farmiloe, InstructAbility Manager at Aspire said:

“We’re delighted that our achievements helping so many disabled people build careers in the leisure sector have been recognised.  We hope everyone who knows InstructAbility and how we improve lives will vote for us to be named the UK’s Best Sport project.”

You can vote for InstructAbility to be the Best Sports Project from June 29 until July 27 online or by calling 0844 836 9708.

Vote for InstructAbility to be the Best Sports Project now!

Aspire announces GLL and LCIL as first partners to lead InstructAbility

Membership and Events Assistant vacancy at Disability Rights UK

Tuesday 27 June 2017

Disability Rights UK works to create a society where everyone with lived experience of disability or health conditions can participate as full citizens.

Disability Rights UK has a vacancy for a Membership and Events Assistant. The role will play an important part in organising and delivering Disability Rights UK’s range of events, including the annual Jack Ashley Memorial Lecture in October 2017 in London, and our Annual General Meeting in November 2017, to be held in Manchester. The role also involves continued development of DR UK’s online event delivery.

Salary £20-24,000 per annum (dependent on experience and with progression)

Full time 35hrs per week

The other main purpose of the role is to provide administrative support to Disability Rights UK’s growing membership function, which currently numbers more than 2,200 individuals and organisations.

To find out more information about the role, the skills you will need and how to apply visit the

Other news: The FA releases guidance on colour blindness in football.

‘I’m Back on the Dance Floor’

Tuesday 27 June 2017

This week’s Personal Experience Blog comes from Adrienne Armorer

In 2001, having left an evening of salsa dancing early, I was reminded that something was wrong. A guy that I’d danced with on numerous occasions and actually got on very well with told me I’d had too much to drink and ended our dance before the song finished. I wasn’t really a drinker and I’d only had water that evening. I decided to call it a night and limped to my car. Sitting in the driver’s seat I realised that I couldn’t drive as I couldn’t feel my right leg properly, or come to think of it, my right arm. This had happened before when everyone thought it was Carpal Tunnel Syndrome because I worked on a computer every day.

Having numbness down one side of my body resulted in an urgent referral to a neurologist. The night before picking up my results I did a google search of my symptoms. I’d never heard of Multiple Sclerosis but the Neurologist agreed with google and said it was a possibility.

I needed to live life while I could. I continued dancing and travelled as much as possible.

Fast forward to 2004, I woke up one morning unable to see properly out of one eye. I had Optic Neuritis and could finally get a diagnosis of MS. Fortunately my sight returned after 6 weeks and I continued to dance when I could. Salsa in Zurich, Valencia, New York, Cancun – wherever there was a salsa club. Regular classes kept me mobile and feeling positive. I really loved dancing.

Alas after a fairly ordinary morning in 2008, I had to hang up my dancing shoes – or so I thought. A massive MS relapse put me in hospital for 10 weeks. I remember my youngest niece saying to me “but Aunty you don’t take drugs so why are you in rehab?”

I was paralysed from chest down and had to learn to do everything again; who knew making a cup of tea was so difficult? By the time I left the Neurological Rehab Unit fortunately most of the paralysis had subsided; I was walking with an elbow crutch and using a wheelchair for longer distances. A stress fracture in my right foot, due to the way I now walk pushed my return to dancing even further away. Even though the fracture finally healed after more than a year, I’m still in pain and can’t stand for long.

Getting back on the dance floor

When I received the Lewisham MS Society newsletter detailing Step Change Studios and their upcoming classes, I was over the moon. All I needed to do was sort out childcare and I was good to go. But who else was going to come with me? I have 3 friends with MS who use wheelchairs: one was busy, one had had a fall so wasn’t up to it, the other didn’t reply to my message. Could I go on my own? I’d voluntary work in Kenya and Ghana on my own in 2007, surely I could do this. Couldn’t I?

I hadn’t been able to sort out childcare and so I decided to bring my 7 year old, her cousin who was playing at our home and her mother, my niece, with me.

Wow – a 50:50 mix of wheelchair dancers and those without. Cool! A little warm-up and then we were off. I’m not a regular wheelchair user and get fatigued quite easily, so I was worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up. It was fine. Nuno and Rashmi are on hand to help and answer any questions. I also needed to ask one of the other wheelchair dancers how he was managing to turn his chair using just one hand. The hour flew by. What a great afternoon. We left on a high.

The all-inclusive dance class that Step Change Studios is running is perfect. It’s good exercise, great fun, a lovely way to socialise and most importantly, I’m back on the dance floor! You don’t need any previous experience – even my 7 year old now loves to spin me around in my wheelchair having watched the last 2 classes.

About Step Change Studios

Step Change Studios is a pioneering dance company committed to making Latin and Ballroom dance accessible for everyone. They offer fun, engaging opportunities for disabled and non-disabled people to dance. They cater to all ages, abilities and needs. Step Change provide weekly classes in London; deliver dance in schools, colleges, social care, healthcare and community settings; and create imaginative bespoke dance projects. Their goal is to support everyone to achieve their dancing ambitions – whether that is to dance for fun, to be active, to perform or compete.

For more information contact Step Change Studios Founder Rashmi Becker on 07976 363861, or email: or visit:

On Saturday 10 June 2017, Step Change Studios launched its inclusive Latin and Ballroom dance classes at the Abbey Centre in London. Find out more.

The FA releases guidance on colour blindness in football

Monday 26 June 2017

One in 12 men and one in 200 women are affected by colour blindness, and The Football Association has published guidance notes on the condition to raise awareness of its impact on football.

If you work or volunteer for a club or league, this guide is intended to help you ensure colour-blind people are welcomed and integrated into the game, enjoying all the positive, lifelong benefits football offers.

The guidance was produced by the FA in conjunction with Colour Blind Awareness. It comes complete with visual examples and has the full support of UEFA, who intend to disseminate the guidance to all the football governing bodies under its umbrella.

Issues in Football

  • Kit clashes – between players, goalkeepers, match officials, the playing surface
  • Equipment – balls, bibs, training cones, line markings
  • Venues – facilities, way-finding, safety signage, lighting
  • Information – digital, ticket purchasing, matchday programmes
  • TV coverage – graphics, long-distance camera angles

The guidance explains the different types of colour blindness, answers common questions and provides suggested positive interventions with those who may be affected.

It gives best-practice visual examples to avoid kit clashes, and includes a series of simulations to show the normally-sighted what colour-blind people are likely to see.

Read the original article at or download Colour Blindness in football 115.5MB (PDF).

Weekend success for junior para-swimmers at National Championships

Monday 26 June 2017

Two records were broken at this weekend’s National Junior Para-Swimming Championships 2017. The event was funded by Swim England and delivered by the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS). Held at Sunderland Aquatics Centre on 24 and 25 June, the event provided young disabled swimmers with more competition experience and an opportunity to win medals against national rivals.

Louise and Sam swimming

There was one British record for Kimberley swimmer Sophie Woodward, 13, in the S3 50m Butterfly (classification for people with physical impairments), in which she clocked 1:22:85. Meanwhile, Letisha Ellis, 13 and from Isle of Man, broke a GB deaf age group record for S15 50m Freestyle in 31.84 seconds.

This year’s partnership between Swim England and EFDS increased the opportunity for youth talent development. Swimmers were aged between 10-16 year olds and from all over the UK.

Janet Warrington, Disability Swimming Head Coach for Hoddesdon swimming club, took two swimmers to the championships, and said afterwards:

“This event is extremely important because it offers a chance for the young swimmers to practice their races, learn lessons, meet new friends and achieve. All of these factors improve their confidence and self-esteem. It increases their passion and determination to do well in their chosen sport.

“My swimmers both learnt some big lessons this weekend. Louise came away with three bronze medals and Sam with one!”

Jannine Walker, National Events Manager for EFDS, said:

“It was a fantastic weekend for all the swimmers and volunteers involved. For many taking part, it was the first time at a national event of this size and to see so many personal bests as well as a couple of British records broken just shows how important these championships are for their development. The support from Swim England, Everyone Active and SOS systems has been invaluable.”

Jane Nickerson, Swim England Chief Executive, said:

“We are very pleased to be able to support this event. It is important that all our talented young swimmers have the opportunity to compete in national championships.”

Full competition results are available online at Read the entire article here.

Parallel London is the world’s first fully inclusive mass participation event, with something for everyone, no matter what you’re ability.

Women’s Sport Week, Disabled Women’s personal stories…an inspiration

Its women’s sport week and here at GYA we have met some amazing disabled women who find getting active and participation in sport and other physical activities  not only healthy but also as a way of challenging society to think differently about disabled women and appreciate the vast diversity that exist in our communities.

The following experiences and stories inspire us and we would love to share them with you again…enjoy!

why horse are my therapy

always exercise-sometimes sport



Women’s Sport Week 2017

Monday 19 June 2017

Women’s Sport Week (19-25 June) aims to bring everybody involved with playing, delivering, leading or working in sport together; to celebrate, raise awareness and increase the profile of women’s sport across the UK.

So why should Get Yourself Active, an organisation that is trying to get more disabled people to take up physical activity and sport care about Women’s Sports Week? Well, there are so many comparisons that can be drawn between disability and women’s sport, and so many ways in which disabled women can be ‘doubly marginalised’.

The latest Active Lives Survey states that 51% of disabled people with 3 or more impairments, 41% with 2 impairments and 34% with 1 impairment are inactive compared to 21% non-disabled people. 27% of women are inactive compared to 24% of men.

Inactivity rates by number of impairments

There are 13.3 million disabled people living in the UK: 7% of children are disabled, 18% of working age adults are disabled and 44% of pension age adults are disabled. This means that disabilities are often acquired as we age.

We already know that if people are encouraged to be active from a young age, then they are more likely to stay active growing up. From childhood boys will often be encouraged to play sport by those around them, yet this is not true for girls. This leads to fewer girls taking up physical activity in their early years and consequently are even less likely to take up physical activity in later life. Even more troubling is that this lack of encouragement to take up physical activity is worse for disabled girls who are even less likely to be presented with the opportunity to take up physical activity.

It is not always straight forward. Just because you may have been active as a child does not mean you will still be active all throughout adulthood. We are active during different stages of our life, and we drop out and take up physical activity at different times, often at significant times in our lives. Considering the majority of people who are classified as disabled have acquired their impairment and were not born with it, it is sometimes this acquirement of an impairment that could (temporarily) stop them from being active. If they were not active before then they are going to be even less likely to take up an activity after they’ve acquired that disability than if they were already active prior to the incident.

What Sways Women to Play Sport, Women in Sport

The media has a big role to play in encouraging both women and disabled people to take up physical activity and sport. There is a huge lack of media coverage for women as well as for disabled people in terms of celebrating their successes. Research by Women in Sport found that only 7% of all sports coverage was about women, and research by the English Federation of Disability Sport states that “disabled adults report seeing coverage of sport and physical activity for disabled people less frequently than they see coverage of non-disability sport”. If people want to see coverage of disability sport, they often have to actively search for it, whereas “non-disability sport it is difficult to avoid due to its presence on mainstream television channels and in newspapers”. The more we see disability and women’s sport on TV and in print media the more visible positive role models are.

On a wider scale, there are different barriers affecting women and men. As it stands women are already paid less than men, and disabled women are less likely to be hired than disabled men. Women therefore have fewer financial resources to support themselves, and spending time and money on physical activity and sport will not be a priority.

We have found as part of our Get Yourself Active research that it is not just a case of disabled people not wanting to take up physical activity or sport, but there is a their lack of knowledge of what provision there is. Click here for more information on how to get active in your local area.

To show our support for getting more women active we will be sharing our favourite personal experience blogs from women throughout Women’s Sports Week on Twitter. Follow us @GetYrselfActive. #WSW2017

Did you know that if you are disabled you are half as likely to be active as a non-disabled person?

Friday 16 June 2017

We’re getting more disabled people active by providing one to one support from a mentor who is themselves a disabled person.

This is part of the Get Out Get Active (GOGA) Peer Support project which is all about disabled (and non-disabled) people taking part in fun, inclusive activities together in their local area.

Working with a mentor can be life-changing – it boosts confidence, helps people to find new solutions to problems and reduces isolation.

Here is one of our mentors Morris meeting his mentee Stephen for the first time. They’ll be working to get Stephen more active and boosting his confidence.

Read more here.

“I know I need help with motivation. I think Morris’ enthusiasm will be brilliant. We have the same sense of humour and, as cheesy as it sounds, I think he’ll actually make fitness fun! I’m really looking forward to having fun together.”

Morris said:

“I think Stephen will really help me, as mentor I know I’ll learn from him.”

Why is this important? Lots of work has been done looking at why getting active can help disabled people improve their health and wellbeing but this new project gives disabled people an extra boost by providing a mentor who themselves has lived experience of living with a disability or health condition- this is known as peer-support or buddying.

They can share experiences, skills and find ways to remove some of the barriers that stop them being active- things like low confidence, not knowing what activity is right for them or where to go to find accessible activities or leisure centres. This project can help remove these and more barriers to being active.

What are you waiting for?

Get support to get active  

Become a mentor

Find out more here.

Get Out Get Active (GOGA) is an exciting new programme that supports disabled and non-disabled people to enjoy being active together.

If you have any questions or wish to register your interest,  contact Kate Pieroudis (Peer Support Lead) at Disability Rights UK:

Telephone: 0207 250 8111


InstructAbility: Fitness industry training for disabled people

Tuesday 13 June 2017

Are you disabled? Do you live in Rotherham? Ever thought about being a gym instructor?

Click on image to enlarge

Click here to view the flyer

What is the instructability programme?

  • It is a FREE Level 2 Gym Instructor and Level 3 Exercise and Disability Course with an Industry Placement.
  • It is for disabled people who are age 16 and over.
  • We are looking for people who can use their own experience of overcoming barriers to exercise and improving physcal function and/or mental health, to inspire and support other disabled people to exercise.

For more details visit the InstructAbility website or email

More like this:

Ever thought about being a gym instructor?

Aspire’s InstructAbility Programme in The Charity Awards 2017 Shortlist 

Incorporating an Open-Minded Approach to Riding, with Accessibility Mark

Tuesday 13 June 2017

A Hampshire equestrian centre has become the latest riding establishment to sign up to a national scheme to encourage more disabled people to take up riding.

Russells Equestrian Centre based in Eastleigh is honoured to have met the criteria set out by Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), to gain their Accessibility Mark accreditation.

Riding for the Disabled Association, in partnership with the British Equestrian Federation’s participation programme, launched the revolutionary Accessibility Mark scheme with the aim of getting more disabled people to participate in riding.

The British Horse Society, Association of British Riding Schools and The Pony Club approved centre specialises in group and individual tuition for riders of all abilities, using ethical and holistic training methods, to enable clients to be the best rider that they can be.

With an open-minded approach incorporating traditional and innovative riding methodologies, such as Clicker Training, Intelligent Horsemanship, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Ride with Your Mind, and Equine Assisted Learning, Russells Equestrian Centre was already welcoming clients with both physical and learning disabilities.

The centre is also home to The Epona Trust, a non-profit making organisation which specialises in the rescue and rehabilitation of horses and ponies. Part of the rehabilitation process for Epona horses and ponies includes working with special needs groups of adults or children. These sessions can involve riding or ‘contact’ work, as part of Equine Assisted Learning.

Proprietor Carol Boulton, who founded the centre in 1974, found out about the Accessibility Mark scheme through her own long-standing association with RDA. She hopes the new accreditation will be seen as a stamp of approval and an acknowledgment that their standards and training are exacting of those expected by such a well-respected organisation.

Carol said:

“I hope to encourage more groups to come along and enjoy the benefits that riding can offer, with our new facilities including a club room. My vision is to dip into the idea of riding as a recreational activity. More cream teas and pony rides as opposed to the belief that it is all about serious training.

“In the long term I would like our centre to be seen as a real community asset, where clients can enjoy horses on an informal basis, whilst also providing a challenge for those with more severe disabilities.”

Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been approved by RDA following training and assessment. The close link with the RDA means that it can offer continuous support to the establishment to ensure it provides a first-class experience that aims to be hugely beneficial.

There are currently 38 Accessibility Mark approved centres across the country.

To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit

Read Britta’s blog, ‘Why horses are my therapy