In this current arctic weather there aren’t a huge amount of fun things for me to do. I get absolutely freezing when I’m outside for any prolonged period of time and in general I am pretty grumpy when the sun isn’t shining. So I have upped the ante on my exercising, and it has been awesome. As well as incorporating swimming into my weekly workouts and doing much more exercising by myself at home, I have been really pushing myself at the rehab centres I go to in Cambridge.
At Prime Physio, Andy (the physio) often takes pictures and videos of some of the exercises I’m doing. Although I’m not a massive fan of photos of me working out (no makeup, messy hair, and often pretty sweaty), they are actually a useful tool. As I have limited feeling in my legs, I’m often not fully aware of what’s going on, so it’s quite nice to see exactly what’s happening. Also, I can use these pics and videos to see how much I am progressing every few weeks or months.
So I thought I would share a couple of them because I’m actually feeling quite proud of how much I’m getting out of all the effort I’m putting in (if that makes sense!)
So first up is a new piece of equipment that I tried for the first time this week. It’s called a YouBike and comes from New Zealand. It is designed to give you a cardiovascular workout and can be used while lying down, or it can be used while in a wheelchair. I like the versatility of it and how quick and easy it is to set up. You simply pedal with the arms, and these are directly connected to the legs so that they move together in unison…
I only tried it for about 10 mins this week, but it got very tiring very quickly, which means that it’s definitely something that I use to improve my fitness.
Next is the rower, which was kindly donated by the Rooprai Spinal Trust, and is the source of a great deal of competition between the clients that go to Prime Physio. All of our PB’s are up on the wall, and each week I try to better my time. I have so far taken a good couple of minutes off my original 2000m time. I think that Andy should join in the challenge though. He sits there and shouts encouragement, but I think secretly he’s desperate to get his name up on the wall too!
Andy has also done a couple of endurance type tests on me, to see how strong my abdominals and my back extensors are. I really don’t like this type of thing as it normally makes me feel like a bit of a failure as both these muscle groups are fairly weak. But I see that it is necessary in order to measure the progress that I am making. As I have said before, results are not quick with neurological conditions, and often they are not particularly visible, so any form of testing to measure progress is important.
Outside of the gym I can see that some of my hard work is paying off. I no longer need the transfer board to get in and out of a car, which is something that I never thought was even possible for me. I have always maintained that the gap is just too far to hop across, but after spending some time watching people do it on You Tube I decided to spend some time in my parent’s driveway practising… and now I am pretty damn good at it!
I am also determined to master floor to chair transfers. I can now safely (ish) go from the wheelchair straight onto the floor, but it is the getting back in that is the hard part. Thanks to my very patient trainer at Standing Start I can almost do it, but more practise is needed before I think I will be ready to showcase my skills. I won’t rest until I can do it though, because someone told me that they’ve only ever seen one girl manage it before, so obviously now my obstinance won’t allow me to quit! (Thanks for that Harvey!)
Third on my list of things to learn, and quite possibly the ultimate wheelchair skill out there is going upstairs in a wheelchair. I think it is virtually impossible, despite a guy on You Tube making it look so easy, so I may just have to accept that this is not something I can achieve. At least it isn’t with my current upper body strength and my wheelchair not being quite lightweight enough.
But other than that, I am pretty proud of what I have been achieving recently. I’m pushing myself further than I thought I could and now I’m keen to push myself even further. I think my mind and body are stronger than I realised and that’s pretty exciting for me!