Athlete with cerebral palsy designs workouts for disabled gym users
A sports and recreation assistant with cerebral palsy designed exercise sessions to attract and support disabled gym users.
Zach Chapman wanted to help people of all ages gain access to post-pandemic health and fitness, after spending so much time in isolation during the lockdown.
Zach, from Connah’s Quay, was born with ataxic cerebral palsy, a developmental disorder that affects motor function, characterized by problems with balance and coordination.
Admitting he was more interested in television and video games as a teenager, the 21-year-old’s first foray into the sport was during disabled football sessions held weekly at Coleg Cambria Deeside.
Leaving St Richard Gwyn High School in Flint, Zach joined college and took computer classes before deciding to move into exercise and fitness, where he successfully achieved a Level 2 qualification.
Now working as a sports and leisure assistant for the college, and business and fitness adviser for the Deeside-based gym Lifestyle Fitness, he caters to more than 10 disabled people a week with conditions including Down syndrome and autism and has also led activities with ILS (Independent Living Skills) at the Northop campus in Cambria.
Another point of view
“As soon as I hit the gym for the first time, I had a completely different perspective, which is what I wanted to do with my life,” said Zach, who thanked his friends and family for their support. .
“I had finished my studies in computer science and had done well, but when I started playing football and keeping fit, I wanted to do more and help others.
“Getting these sports and health jobs gave me a real boost, and during the pandemic when everything was closed, I studied an online course to stay productive.
“I did a lot of research on exercise for people with disabilities after being asked to do it by the gym, and it went from there.”
He added: “We have introduced more chair workouts and sessions, for people with reduced mobility, and other routines tailored to people’s needs.
“In my eyes, anything is possible, it’s the mind that stops you, not the body and we break down those barriers together.”
Sports and Recreation Supervisor Emma Seath praised Zach for his determination and positive attitude. “We are very proud of Zach, he is an inspiration to everyone here and always comes up with new ideas,” she said.
“His sessions in the gym and with ILS learners are very popular and the groups really appreciate his efforts to try to make exercise and fitness more accessible to people with disabilities, which in turn has had a positive impact. on mental health, especially after being in isolation during the lockdown and throughout the pandemic.
Zach is also an avid runner and recently completed his first Chester Half Marathon. he now plans to consider online training so people with disabilities can exercise comfortably and safely at home.
He added, “I plan to further my education if the right opportunity arises and help people of all ages and disabilities in my current roles with college and Lifestyle Fitness.
“I tell the group; if your mind can do it, you can do it and always look at the positives.
“It’s been well received, the feedback has been amazing.”
Denni Atkins, Club Manager at Lifestyle Fitness, added, “Zach is unique with a positive attitude and a good heart. He immediately inspired me because my sister also has cerebral palsy and can limit herself due to her disability.
“He is the perfect role model and inspires people like her, to prove that anything can be achieved.
“We are now working together on building his development platform, this is just the beginning for Zach and I will support him every step of the way.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee per month, you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.