Sue is originally from Liverpool but now lives in Cheshire. Since the age of 18 she has been using a wheelchair user full time and has spina bifida. Describing her disability Sue continues, “I have spina bifida, scoliosis, limited movement in my left arm, severe tendonitis and restrictive lung disease.”
“The affect my disability currently has is unpredictable which in itself is frustrating. My hand sensation/grip varies along with my breathing so I often rely on help and adaptions to do simple tasks. My breathing in particular limits me being able to push my wheelchair at distance or up gradients. As my disability is deteriorating it has had an impact on my mental health which took me a long time to admit but something I now understand better.”
The importance of taking part in sport and exercise continues to be very important to Sue and she understands the benefits of doing so on both her physical and mental health. This has obviously been impacted hugely by the Covid-19 pandemic which has meant that Sue has looked for new ways to stay active from her home whilst shielding.
Sport has played a huge part in Sue’s life since she was very young. At the age of 16 she began playing wheelchair basketball, a sport that she continues to be involved in to this day. After developing her talent with a local club she went on to represent the north west region at Junior Championships over many years and in 1993 she was selected for the Great British team. In the 10 years that followed Sue went on to represent GB at many world championships and at the Paralympic Games.
“In 1996 I became a Paralympian at Atlanta. Whilst the team didn’t medal the experience was very valuable as we played against the best teams in the world and beat Germany for the first time in GB Women’s history! In 1998 we qualified for the Sydney 2000 Paralympics which was another unforgettable experience for me and the team. I retired from international basketball in 2003, but as I look back on my career I am very proud that my team laid the foundations for the GB Women’s teams of today, who are now winning medals at major tournaments.”
After retiring as an athlete Sue continued to use her skills and knowledge of the game to help develop it within the north west and beyond. As she explains, “I still keep involved in other ways and I have also been running the Vikings Wheelchair Basketball Club for some 20+years. For over 10 years I was a board member of British Wheelchair Basketball helping to give a voice to players of all abilities ages and backgrounds, and in 2019 I was awarded the BWB Service to Sport award as a player, coach, table official, international classifier and board member.”
It is fantastic to hear about how Sue has given so much back to Wheelchair Basketball and that the legacy of the teams she played for created the foundations for so much growth in the sport in the years that followed.
So fast forward to 2020, the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdowns that came afterwards. Like many other disabled people who found themselves shielding and spending more time at home Sue was adapting to the changes and looking for activities she could take part in online. It was at this time that she discovered the WheelPower Classes from Ella Beaumont and she hasn’t looked back ever since.
“I have known Ella since she started playing wheelchair basketball as a junior and when I saw her social media post I thought why not have a go, which at the time was quite a big step as I didn’t know who would be joining. Over the following weeks I also got to try Yoga for the first time and although I was a little sceptical the first time I did the session, I told myself ‘next time open your mind and concentrate’. So that's what I did and I found it really helpful to relax and control my breathing. My lung function is 33% so being able to control my breathing is helpful and also the relaxation part is great for taking away any anxiety.”
With Sue now attending multiple classes per week they have become a key part of her weekly exercise routine and she tells us that she is now exercising more now than she has done for a long time.
“Taking part in the WheelPower Classes and watching the Online Workouts hasn’t just been my lockdown exercise, it has been my only real exercise for a few years. I have to do daily physio both for breathing, legs and back but these sessions have opened my eyes to what is available, and to helped me to maintain my ability as long as possible.”
The three classes provide Sue with a variety of exercises and multiple benefits each week. She tells us that she enjoys the relaxation and breathing techniques that Yoga provides, but also really enjoys pushing herself with the more cardio based workouts from Ben and Ella.
“I find that they all help me for different reasons but if you pushed me I would say I enjoy Ella’s sessions the most. I have got a little bit addicted to them! I really like these sessions as they push my breathing, as it combines my respiratory physio with some actual fun. They help keep me as physically able as possible, and I can easily adapt certain exercises to suit my ability, which is great. As well as all of these benefits they also give me that competitive edge I miss from my basketball years. I like to challenge myself against other people within the classes which makes me work that extra bit harder!”
It is great to hear how the Online Exercise Classes have helped Sue to rediscover her love of exercise and how that even in such difficult times they have provided her the means to take part in more physical activity than she had been doing prior to the pandemic.
In 2020 Sue also received a free set of resistance bands from WheelPower which have given her even greater opportunity to stay active from her home. The set comes with various attachments and they come in a variety of strengths too, meaning that Sue is able to build up her strength and adapt a routine to her needs at various times during the week.
To conclude Sue says, “The Wheelpower sessions have been so important to me especially as I am one of the many people who are clinically vulnerable and shielding. I haven't had much opportunity to go outside and as the winter months arrived, they have helped give some focus and friendly faces to see each week.”
“I would just like to say a big thank you to WheelPower and the instructors for the online classes and resistance bands as they really have been a game changer for making exercise available to me. Not only have the classes been physically helpful but they have also given me some outside contact which has been extremely limited over the past year. I would certainly recommend all of the WheelPower resources to others and would encourage more people come along and give the sessions a go. Thank you so much WheelPower.”
A huge thank you to Sue for sharing her story with us and we hope that it inspires its readers to join us all in benefiting from exercise, both during the pandemic and beyond.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sue'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.