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Impulse Leisure runs group exercise programmes for stroke and cardiac rehab patients

cultural event at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the birthplace of the Paralympic Games. Time to Shine was a free initiative for

the young participants thanks to funding from the Mace Foundation. Attendees were able to experience a wide variety of inclusive sporting activities – run by qualifi ed coaches and volunteers and designed to suit all abilities – including volleyball, archery, street dance, swimming and much more. There was a mixture of ‘have a go’ and competitive activities, with youngsters taking part alongside others of a similar age group and in their borough teams. Ian Seabrook, business development

manager at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, says: “We offer many programmes for disabled people locally, nationally and internationally, but what made this special was that Time to Shine took participants away from their day-to-day lives and empowered them physically and mentally. The key to delivering sustainable and effective programmes is the mental stimulation they provide too. Crack this and the programmes will grow and grow.”

It’s not always long-term… Being confined to a wheelchair may not always be permanent. For example, every year 150,000 people in the UK suffer a stroke and the consequences, although varied, can include weakness in an arm, leg or both depending on the

severity of the stroke; it can sometimes lead to short- or long-term paralysis. Exercise and physical activity can not

only aid the physical symptoms, but can also help with mental health issues such as depression. Impulse Leisure, in partnership with Thurrock Council, therefore runs the Thurrock Stroke Network. Through specially designed group exercises classes, the network aims to aid independent living and provide a supportive social structure to enhance quality of life for those who have had a stroke. Clients of all ages attend the classes

twice a week, with each client assessed and personal goals set. The classes deliver mixed activities, including use of a Technogym Kinesis wall, a light wall, boxing stations and badminton. Impulse Leisure is looking to extend the sessions and a study is currently underway to measure outcomes among attendees. However, marked improvements – both physical and mental – have already been observed among users of the service.

Education is key It’s not just leisure operators that need to be driving innovation in this area; the


Spencer Vaughan has always been a very active, sporty person. He played rugby and enjoyed surfing and motor-cross. He joined the Royal Marines when he was 20 years old. During his fi rst year of general duties,

while on an adventure training exercise, he sustained a spinal cord injury that left him paralysed from the chest down. He participated in the InstructAbility course and, once qualifi ed, entered phase two of the programme with a work placement at Everyone Active’s Plymouth Life Centre.

60 Guy Westwood, fi tness manager

at the Plymouth Life Centre, says: “Spencer’s enthusiasm and willingness has been an inspiration to the team and customers alike. Staff have gained a far better knowledge of the daily challenges wheelchair users face.”

InstructAbility has

given spinal injury victim Vaughan a new career

Read Health Club Management online at June 2013 © Cybertrek 2013

relevant education to support the delivery also needs to stay one step ahead of the curve. InstructAbility is a programme

created by YMCAfi t in conjunction with spinal injury charity Aspire. It offers unemployed disabled people the opportunity to train as fi tness instructors, with a view to them working in gyms and running community outreach activities specifi cally targeting disabled people, to get them participating in fi tness and sporting activities. The programme has won awards

for its innovation, not only in terms of providing employment opportunities for disabled people, but also inspiring a new generation of potential Paralympic athletes – the programme is able to reach new audiences of disabled people who have either been put off participating in these activities in the past or not considered it as a viable option for them. The programme has been delivered in

a few areas of London to date, and one in four InstructAbility graduates have gone on to gain employment. Employers include Virgin Active, Fitness First, YMCA, GLL and Fusion. ●

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