Hello, my name is Michelle and I have founded a fitness based class for learning disabilities. This has recently started in 2015. We are based in Derby and hold weekly sessions around the county.
The idea come about a few years ago when I was training in my first ‘bodybuilding’ show. I would take my kettlebells to work ( I’m a social support worker) as I didn’t like to miss a day training. My service users would always ask questions about fitness and health and ask what am I doing etc… I found they were really keen to have a go however got bored really quickly. Let’s face it lifting weights can be boring! Even within the community if we attended a group or dance my service users often got bored after twenty minutes and some would disrupt the class which in turn just drew negative attention from the other class users.
After I had completed my shows on stage I went into powerlifting (which I still do today) and was quite amazed what an impact my own fitness story had on the people I support. When I tried to get one to one hours to take service users to the gym they would often shy away from the idea as they were nervous or worried what others would think, this is where I thought of the idea to set up a fitness class just for learning disabilities.
I did some research and was aware that I would need to go back to college and re train so I could become qualified to take the class. I was nervous at first as I have dyslexia and was worried about the learning aspect. I’m a mum to two boys and I work near on full time as well as weight train but this was something I really wanted to do.
I started studying at Derby college in 2014 and become qualified in March 2015 after passing all exams 1st time…yes! Now was the hard bit, setting up a fitness class that is enjoyable, feels welcoming and also engaging. With the help from my college assessor Steve he gave me the confidence to use my support and fitness skills to plan a session. This was when JUMPZ was launched and to date it is a busy class with lots of interest.
In the morning me and my volunteers Cassie, Kenny and Andrea greet everyone with open arms and huge smiles, I then take the register and payments, this can take upto 5 minutes as I like everyone to count their own money (This is helping counting/maths skills). After payment we would separate into two groups, high intensity circuit class at one end of the hall and low intensity ball games at the other end, after around 50 minutes of exercise we often play a game of rounders or bulldog as a whole group.
We receive positive feedback from carers and users since the classes started. We have found the class to improvement listening skills, behaviour and concentration. The service users are asking their parents if they can come which is lovely to hear!
So its all go at the moment, life is busy and my clients are happy. Onwards and upwards!