… I kept on going.
As amazing as the gym I attend is, they were fully prepared for me. Not only am I Autistic but I have a few other conditions which make exercise hard (but not impossible).
One day I went to a circuit class at my gym, this is where they have lots of different exercises and you move around the room from one exercise to the next within a certain time (usually about 60secs per station, then you move to the next).
As I’m going round the circuit I’m finding difficulties. I have a condition that affects my hips and shoulders so some things I can’t lift “normally”, and the instructor didn’t know how to adapt for that. I have a blood pressure issue where I can faint if I do a lot of up and down movements… and the instructor didn’t know how to adapt for that. The music was loud and it was making me stressed… the instructor didn’t understand and did nothing.
At the end of the session, I was told: “maybe you shouldn’t come back to this class again”… and that hurts. I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation at some point in our lives where we’ve been told our Autism (or other conditions) means we cannot participate… When it actual fact all we needed was some understanding and minor adjustments.
I left that class feeling that crap… but, as my mother tells me, I’m “an obstinant little bugger” and so I kept going. That’s right, I returned EVERY SINGLE WEEK to the same group I was told not to come back to… and I kept asking for adjustments… and, shockingly, I didn’t get them. So I kept at it, I researched my own adaptations to exercises, I spoke with the gym manager, I did everything I could to ensure I could participate.
The thing is, I know that not everyone is able to do that… to stand up for themselves in an unfamiliar situation. I know that many of us would be so stressed, embarrassed and demotivated that we’d leave and never return.
I recently completed a course to become a gym instructor specifically to support disabled people, I even got an extra qualification in adapting exercise for disability as well.
If you’re interested in getting into exercise, but are worried you’ll have the same (or similar) experience I had, please do get in touch via our contact us page. We’d be happy to support and advise you on getting into a healthy lifestyle 🙂