A REVOLUTIONARY fitness class for wheelchair users is starting at Hereford Leisure Centre on Saturday.
‘Wheel-Spin’ is a new spin bike class for people in wheelchairs, with the instructor leading a group on specialist treadmills – previously reserved for professional athletes – through an hour-long workout moving through different speeds to music.
It’s part of a programme at Halo centres run by Wheely Good Fitness’ Chris Saunders that is looking to finally give wheelchair users an outlet for the enthusiasm sparked post-Paralympics.
“I think things fell flat after the Paralympics,” said Chris.
“It brought a lot of interest and excitement, but a lot of places weren’t set up to handle it.”
Along with an aerobics class for all wheelchair users, also on Saturdays, Chris’ Wheel-Spin classes are looking to fill that gap.
It was through meeting members of the Australian Paralympic team in Cardiff that he first got into wheelchair basketball, then fitness, and he is now putting together specialist classes to be rolled out nationwide.
The treadmills used in the Wheel-Spin cost £3,500 each - and while common amongst disabled athletes, they are now becoming more readily available for use by the general public.
“Before the Disability Discimination Act in 2004, people in wheelchairs were getting turned away from gyms,” said Chris.
“Even now it’s rare to see exercise classes that are designed for people in wheelchairs – not just adapted to them.
“And a lot of people don’t have confidence in what they can or can’t achieve going on their own.”
And, while targeting that confidence, and engaging people in the social side that comes with group classes, these fitness sessions are first and foremost about fitness.
Amongst wheelchair users, 60 percent still die of cardiovascular problems and heart disease, said Chris.
The two classes will give people of all ages and levels the chance to get active, and Chris is already planning on launching a circuits class soon.
As well as more traditional movements, the aerobics class will use exercises that can be translated to everyday life – using blocks to simulate mounting and dismounting a kerb.
The spin class, for self-propelled wheelchair users, will follow a similar format to the hugely popular indoor cycling class – with instructors taking the class on ‘a ride’ to music, varying the intensity throughout.
Classes cost £3 each, with a discount if you book on to both.
To get more information, to book, and to view a video about the classes visit the Hereford Leisure Centre website or contact Chris at http://wheelygoodfitness.com/contact.php .