Jane is 50 years old and lives in Dorchester in Dorset with her fiancé and has two grown up children. As she explains, “I have always been fit and active, swimming competitively, horse riding, running, going to the gym, cycling, walking, skiing, sailing and as a family we always enjoyed an active lifestyle.”
Speaking of her working life she continues, “I moved to Dorset when I was only 18 years old to teach horse riding. A few years later I started working in a school as a teaching assistant and then became a science and DT technician. As my career progressed I got a job in a private school as a House Matron to 53 teenage boys. I loved this job and there was never a dull day!”
Being such an active person Jane was approaching 2009 with her sights set on both completing the London Marathon and also the 3 Peaks challenge, but it was during this time that she began recognising a variety of symptoms that later led to a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis in 2012.
“Whilst I was training for the two events I started losing my footing and tripping up and I therefore had to withdraw from both of them which was really disappointing. With the symptoms progressing and despite my determination to continue to do as much as I could, unfortunately I also had to stop doing my job as a House Matron, as the school building just wasn't suitable for someone with limited mobility.”
Over the next few years Jane’s MS progressed and in 2017 she became a permanent wheelchair user. This didn’t stop Jane doing the things she loved, such as swimming, going to the gym and riding which she was continuing to enjoy weekly all the way up until the Covid-19 pandemic began. “Up until the lockdown in March 2020 I was still swimming three times a week, going to the gym, and riding. I have always tried not to let the MS stop me from doing things and always try to look for the positive and being physically active is something that is so important to me. I always try to stay positive and look at what I can do rather than what I can’t. We can go through life focusing on what we used to be able to do rather than making the most of everyday and the opportunities that come with it.”
Unfortunately with the lockdown starting and the leisure centres closing Jane was looking for alternative ways to stay fit and motivated whilst spending even more time at home. Initially with content from the likes of Joe Wicks making waves in the media it was clear to many disabled people that these videos were not inclusive and adaptable for their needs.
“There was all the hype about Joe Wicks, but I wanted to do something for me. I looked online for wheelchair fitness videos and came across Access Adventures, which were starting to do Zoom wheelchair fitness classes taken by a lady called Ella Beaumont. I signed up straight away and loved them from day one. It was whilst doing these classes that another participant mentioned that they were also doing another Zoom class with WheelPower. I hadn't really heard of WheelPower and I was delighted to find out their classes were open to anyone with a disability, including people with MS just like me.”
The discovery of Online Classes was just what Jane needed and she has been a regular attendee ever since. The classes bring a weekly routine to exercise and have meant that an online community has now formed, bringing together disabled people from across the United Kingdom to benefit from physical activity. The social aspect of exercising is so important in terms of enjoyment, motivation and the sharing of knowledge and advice, and as Jane explains it is through these classes she has made new friends.
“What I love about all the zoom classes is that it’s great to be able to work out with other people, just like the good old days of being in the gym. Even though we haven’t met I feel I have made some new virtual friends and that over the months we have gradually got to know each other.”
Jane has taken part in all 3 weekly classes from WheelPower and has enjoyed them all in different ways, but it is Ella’s class that she enjoys the most. As she explains, “My favourite class is the wheelchair fitness with Ella, but I must say I do enjoy all the classes. I had never done yoga before but I gave it a go and enjoyed doing something completely different. I was actually surprised at how challenging it was!”
As she continues, “The classes have become a focal point to my week and I would recommend them to anyone. They are fun but also work you hard! I can honestly say that I feel fitter and stronger since doing the zoom classes, and that I won’t be in any rush to get back to the leisure centre when they do reopen.”
Jane continues to attend the weekly classes and has also enjoyed watching the various WheelPower Workouts on YouTube. “The videos are great and vary from cardio, weight sessions, resistance bands, and yoga to name a few. I now aim to do a YouTube video daily as part of my weekly exercise routine which works for me.”
As well as using the online resources from WheelPower Jane has also benefited from the gift of resistance bands from the charity, which has opened up further opportunities to take part in classes and brought more variety to her exercises at home. As she explains, “I had never used resistance bands before and after applying for my free set from WheelPower I was now able to fully participate in Ben’s cardio classes which is great.”
“The WheelPower resources have opened up a whole new world out there, full of different opportunities and sports to try. So, with that in mind I’m very much looking forward to meeting some of my new friends in person to try out new sports that I we have now discovered. Thank you WheelPower and to all the instructors and friends that have helped me through this challenging year.”
Thank you Jane for sharing your WheelPower Story and we hope that it inspires many more disabled people to discover what is available online and how important staying active is to our physical and mental health.
“I have really benefited from the classes that WheelPower have done that I wanted to give something back. I like a challenge and so I decided to sign up for the WheelPower Winter walk and Push in January 2021. I have challenged myself to push a minimum of 1 mile a day, but so far I have pushed 2miles on most days! It is good to be out in the fresh air getting exercise, doing something positive.”
If you have attended an online class or received resistance bands from WheelPower and would like to share your story then please get in contact with the team and we will be in touch shortly email@example.com
Jane's Favourite WheelPower Exercises:
Apply for your FREE set of Resistance Bands
Apply now for a set of resistance bands so that you can keep active at home during this difficult time. If your application is successful we will send you a resistance band set which will include hand grips, ankle straps and a door anchor that make it easier to target different muscle groups, including biceps and triceps, back and shoulders, chest and legs and abdominals. Resistance training builds resistive power in body muscles and there are many benefits to adding these exercises to your weekly routine.
The bands can be used for the exercises features in our Resistance Band Exercises for Wheelchair Users film or for yoga, warming up before exercising, strength training or physical therapy rehabilitation. They are designed for aerobic and anaerobic exercise, physical fitness and weight loss.
You must be a UK resident to apply.