09 Jun

Zach's Gym Classes - Making fitness accessible for all

Inspirational Zach Chapman wanted to help people of all ages to access health and fitness post-pandemic, after spending so much time in self isolation during lockdown. Zach, from Connah’s Quay, was born with ataxic cerebral palsy, a developmental disorder that affects motor function, characterised by problems with balance and coordination.

Admitting he was more interested in TV and video games as a teenager, the 21 year-old’s first foray into sport was at disability football sessions held weekly at Coleg Cambria Deeside. On leaving St Richard Gwyn High School in Flint, Zach joined the college and completed IT courses before deciding to make the switch to Exercise and Fitness, where he successfully gained a Level 2 qualification.

Now working as a Sports and Leisure Assistant for the college, and Sales and Fitness Adviser for Lifestyle Fitness gym, based at Deeside, he welcomes more than 10 disabled people a week with conditions including Down’s Syndrome and autism and has also led activities with ILS (Independent Living Skills) learners from Cambria’s Northop campus. “As soon as I went to the gym for the first time I had a completely different perspective, that’s what I wanted to do with my life,” said Zach, who thanked friends and family for their support. “I had completed my studies in IT and did well, but when I started to play football and began keeping fit, I wanted to do more, and to help other people.

“Getting these jobs in sports and health has given me a real boost, and during the pandemic when everything was closed, I studied an online course to stay productive. I did a lot of research into exercise for disabled people after being urged to do so by the gym, and it just went from there.”

He added: “We introduced more workouts and sessions that are chair-based, for people with limited mobility, and other routines tailored to people’s requirements.

“In my eyes anything is possible, it’s the mind that stops you, not the body, and we are smashing through those barriers together.” Sports and Leisure Supervisor Emma Seath praised Zach for his determination and positive attitude. “We are very proud of Zach, he’s an inspiration to everyone here and is always coming up with new ideas,” she said. “His sessions at the gym and with the ILS learners are very popular and the groups really appreciate his efforts in trying to make exercise and fitness more accessible to people with disabilities, which in turn has had a positive impact on mental health, especially after being in self isolation during lockdown and throughout the pandemic.”

Zach is also a keen runner and recently completed his first Chester Half-Marathon; he now plans to look at online training so people with disabilities can exercise comfortably and safely in their own homes. He added: “I plan to continue with my education if the right opportunity arises and help people of all ages and disabilities in my current roles with the college and Lifestyle Fitness. “I tell the group; if your mind can do it, you can do it and to always look at the positives.

“That has been well received, the feedback has been amazing.” Denni Atkins, Club Manager at Lifestyle Fitness, added: “Zach is unique with a can-do attitude and a good heart. He instantly inspired me as my sister also has cerebral palsy and can limit herself due to her disability. He is the perfect role model and inspiration people for people like her, to prove that anything can be achieved. We are now working together on building his development platform, this is just the beginning for Zach and I’ll support him every step of the way.”

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