With the UK now more than 12 weeks into lockdown, it has been a challenging time for many people, including a number of our clients. We know that many of you will have been unable to get out and take part in your usual fitness and social activities. In this article, Associate Victoria Williams looks at one option open to wheelchair users to help stay active.
WheelPower, the national charity for wheelchair sport, has set up a weekly online café to try and help. I attended the first weekly WheelPower Café on Thursday, 28 May to see what it is all about.
The café takes place every Thursday between 11am and 12pm and offers live fitness classes, yoga, question and answer sessions and the opportunity to talk.
The first session was led by Nina Boswell-Brown, a yoga teacher from Bristol. Nina has paraplegia and is experienced in teaching yoga classes to those with spinal injuries. Nina explained that she has been in a wheelchair for over 30 years. Nina had been struggling with her shoulders and found there was not much yoga out there for people with spinal injuries. This set her on her path to becoming a yoga teacher.
We started with some simple movements, initially with our head and neck. We then moved towards our hands, arms and spine before finishing with some breathing exercises. Those attending had different levels of injury, and it did not matter how much or how little you were able to do to take part. The focus was about maintaining mobility and independence and looking after our bodies.
The yoga itself lasted for about 20-30 minutes and was followed by a question and answer session. This was a great opportunity for the people who took part in the café to ask any questions they had or have a bit of a chat. There was no pressure to talk, and if you did not want to, you did not have to.
Martin McElhatton OBE, WheelPower’s Chief Executive, took part in the café and he explained the range of resources available from WheelPower’s website. They are adding new videos each week and updating the website with details of who is going to be in their café each week. At the second café GB wheelchair basketball player Ella Beaumont joined for a wheelchair workout.
The aim of the session is for everybody to be able to take part from home without any special equipment. No experience is necessary, everyone is welcome, and members of your household can join in. The café takes place using Zoom, and it is your choice whether or not you have your camera on or off.
It is simple to join in with the WheelPower Café by going to their website, Details of the café appear on the Home page underneath “Upcoming sports events”. You can sign up there, and you will be sent an email giving you a link to the Zoom call. You then click on the link at 11am on Thursday.
The other resources Martin talked about can be found here. As well as yoga videos by Nina, the resources include cardio, circuit exercises, resistance and exercises.
This is all part of WheelPower’s “Exercise at home” series to support disabled people, including many with spinal cord injuries, to stay active and feel connected at this difficult time.
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