Fitness is just as important for disabled people as it is for abled people but because it is much harder due to lack of resources and accessibility many people neglect fitness. I started working after I graduated high school because I was out of shape in a bad way and needed to make a change. I didn’t want to become less mobile and lose mobility because once you lose it’s gone permanently. I have achieved a lot in my fitness and people often only see how much weight I am lifting and are impressed by all the things I have achieved and that I am just naturally gifted but what you don’t see is the struggles it takes to get those results. Disabled and abled people both have challenges while they workout but when you have a disability it’s different and significantly more challenging than it is for abled people because you always have your disability to consider. It is impressive when abled people can lift insane amounts of weight but when disabled people can do that same thing it’s even more incredible because it takes more effort to get those results. My fitness has hugely improved since I started working out eleven years ago but it still doesn’t make it easy and I only make it work. In this post, I am going to talk about some challenges I have faced in my fitness journey and had to find ways to work through to make fitness possible.
I fall a lot– I have hip dysplasia which means my hips are dislocated and working out is incredibly challenging because sometimes my hips can’t take certain exercises and I fall randomly. I have taught myself to do some pretty advanced planks and it’s so frustrating when I am on a roll and all of a sudden my legs give out. When you have hip dysplasia there are some exercises that you should probably avoid because it puts more stress on your hips but falling is inevitable and sometimes fall happen and you don’t know why. My hips often pop at the absolute time causing me to do random face place and there is only so much you can do about that. The more strength I build the less I fall but it still happens because you can’t change your diagnosis and it’s out of your full control. The only thing you can do is be prepared for and adapt your workouts if it starts to happen too often because you can’t totally avoid it.
It took me years to find a workout- When I first graduated high school I knew I needed to get into shape so I did what everyone was doing and killed myself with cardio because I thought that is what you’re supposed to do. It didn’t last long before I reached burn out and realized that I can’t work out in the same and that you don’t have to do horrible workouts to get results. Working out at horrible intensities made me begin to hate fitness so much that I almost gave up on fitness until one day I happened to stumble across a YouTube video that changed my view on exercise and taught me that fitness can be fun. I wish abled people could understand how difficult it is to find an accessible routine because it took me years before I found something that was not totally accessible but workable enough where I could adapt to my needs. Finding workouts designed for disabled people shouldn’t be that hard and workouts designed for disabled people should be as easy to find as it is for abled people because when it’s not disabled people don’t want to deal with the aggravation of it and let their fitness go.
Most exercises I can’t do- I wish people could understand how frustrating it is for disabled people to come across workout after workout that you can’t do. . A big challenge I have with my workouts is finding workouts I can do because not all exercises I benefit from as some of my muscles don’t work. When I search for an arm workout I want just that and I didn’t also want a hip or glute workout because I can’t work those muscles so I don’t benefit from them. When an exercise routine has moves that I can’t do I know that you can substitute different exercises for ones that you can or take it out completely but not everyone is going to know to do that. I spend a good chunk of time looking for exercises that I can do because I think I can do a workout but can only do the warm-up. Don’t people ever want to work just one body part and why do we need all these fancy arm moves that only benefit abled people? Most people doing workout videos are going to be disabled people because many of us don’t benefit from gym membership so why does it take hours to find something that is kind of accessible and isn’t really that good.
I get a lot of neck tension- When you have Hydrocephalus it is important that you more in tune with how your body is feeling to avoid pushing yourself too hard and creating a shunt problem. I like working out but I literally have to force myself to do upper body workouts because my shunt tubing is in my pleural cavity which is by my lungs and whenever I target my arms I get some sort of neck tension. There are some exercises like shoulder presses that aren’t as bad because they put more pressure on your shoulders rather than your neck but it doesn’t matter what I do I always feel it in my neck. I have tried weight lifting and weightless exercises to see if one was better than the other but they both can cause problems. Weightless exercises do put less pressure on your neck because there is less resistance and is a good place to start but it isn’t the solution for neck tension. I don’t have as much neck tension as I did when I first started working out because my body is used to but I still get it sometimes and think I always will as long as I have Hydrocephalus.
The internet going out- The Internet can be lifechanging for disabled people and make workout possible but like anything else it can go out when your in the middle of something or not work to begin with. . I have been exercising long enough that I probably could workout without the Internet but it’s not only my resource for fitness but also my motivation and without the Internet, I can’t motivate myself to exercise. Luckily I don’t lose Internet connection often during my workouts because without my coach I can’t motivate myself to exercise if my life depended on it. When I was on bed rest for hip replacement surgery I kept up with some of my weightless arm exercises but I didn’t use the Internet to do them because I knew enough and didn’t think it was necessary. I did my exercises sometimes but I was not as consistent as I should of been and what I learned about myself is that you can’t give me a series of exercises and expect me to actually do them. My motivation is the positive energy of my coach because without that I am bored and don’t have a real reason to do it so I am not workout out as consistently.
Exercise is harder when you have a disability and it’s not always laziness when disabled people choose to not workout but often is because of limited resources and inaccessibility. I have made a lot of progress in my fitness but if it wasn’t for me enjoying my routines I would probably have quit because I spend more time looking for workout than I have actually doing them. I don’t judge disabled people that don’t work out who can because it’s no mystery why a lot of people give up on fitness but I do judge people that create workouts without even trying to make them accessible. Disabled people shouldn’t have to get creative in their workouts but they should already be accessible because when you do people don’t bother with it. I am much stronger because I started a fitness journey and think it is important for disabled people who can to prioritize fitness but I totally get why some people don’t. There is a lot you can learn about my fitness by what you see on me post on social media but what you do see is the struggles it took to get those results because I don’t share every single detail about my health. What challenges do you face with your disability that people might not see?