When it comes to muscles, the adage “use it or lose it” is painfully true.
I really do feel,that if I was not going to the gym in K Leisure Naas (who thankfully have a number of customisable (for wheelchair users) machines),that I would have the strength and dexterity of Stephen Hawking .
I know I’m not helping matters by being a comfort eater, who does not feel that a meal is complete without something sweet.
This comes back to haunt me when I’m on the hand cycle, resenting every second it takes to try and undo past failings.
Apart from developing a highly sexy santa like midsection, it turns small things like twisting or turning, into an embarrassing ordeal.
,At thirty my FA symptoms seemed to degenerate in an accelerated downward spiral. My fingers deadened and constricted. My handwriting collapsed into a birdlike scrawl.
Muscle imbalance, due to very weak calf muscles, meant that my feet refused to rest obediently on the footplates, preferring instead just to shoot out poker straight.
Any pretence of normality that I ever strove for, was now messily unravelling.
Getting around was/is an often pitiful sight. Thankfully I have some help now, which coincided more or less perfectly, with the gyms opening in March 2009.
This gym has become a focal point for me, a hopeful delayer of further inevitable decline.
Green tea’s and anything containing the magic word “antioxidant,” have now been overtaken by the benefits of weights and training videos from YouTube.
The inner thighs may have stagnated (I can’t close my legs, no joke intended) as my inner thighs have atrophied.
The pelvis has locked, making transfers extremely difficult, and even turning in bed a frequent nightmare.
My co-ordination is sporadic at best, to the point where I have long since given up, even attempting to shake someone’s hand.
A few times I have managed to miss their hand completely, or at best connect with just a few of their fingers.
Now I am fully aware of the picture that I am presenting. Someone with a wonky voice,,and very uncoordinated movements.
Its a good job that my interpretation of what “dignity” entails, has been battered into numbness over the years.
The other person speaks with a very condescending tone. This person just wants to dissolve with shame .
What I really like about Naas is the fact that there is a more ordinary clientele.
Yes there are the body beautiful’ who have muscle on muscle, but they are outnumbered by the rest of us, who may have a couple of asses, protruding bellies and an outline of a chin that has been submerged by too many good times and poor choices.
I have witnessed people recovering from a stroke walk independently, without need for aid. This is thanks to their own focused effort, and to the fact that muscles do indeed have memory.
I sometimes am consumed by jealousy, watching people go past me with their perfectly coordinated movements. They really have no idea of what a truly amazing machine, they have got control of.
My advice to anyone, is to treat the time in the gym as a way of investing in your own body. To keep it strong and healthy keeping days of decline, as far away as possible.
Although separate from the adjoining council sports hall, they try to ensure that only legitimate users are using the wheelchair spaces near the front.
Lazy parents with their precious spawn, are often the chief culprits. However, G.A.A types and bodybuilder’s have also been spotted.
What sort of message are they innocuously sending out to the universe?
That they so want to be disabled, that they can’t be bothered to walk the exhaustingly short distance from the car park.
On my worst days, I hope that they get their subliminal wishes answered.
There were plans for expansion, which seem to be now stalled. My membership of €350 for 15 months (off peak membership paid in one lump sum) is fantastic value, and I pump, curl and squeeze every last drop of value out of it.
It is my sincere hope, that they keep going from strength to strength!
Update Wednesday 16/11/2016: So I payed extra and I am now a full member, which means that I can use Naas, Newbridge and Athy unconditionally. Naas has had its extension done and is still the best in my opinion, as regards accessibility and being inclusive.
Newbridge has come on a lot (perhaps because of all my comment cards and heated disputes with the management).
I go to Athy very seldom. I have never seen anyone with a disability there, and from what I have seen maybe its understandable. They have a Lat pull down machine, which I was told a month ago, that they were waiting on a pin to make it accessible for someone in a chair. Who knows for how long it was broken initially?
My issue is that if the machine were unusable by the able bodied members, the repair of it would be given a top priority.(Update: It took five weeks, but its done now)
I let them know, that they have gotten hundreds of thousands in an accessibility grant from the Council. There are already few enough accessible machines that we can use. I am sure they hate the sight of me sometimes, but so be it!
(Update 21/02/2015: Was so happy to learn from someone I know that goes to the gym in the evening, that the staff of K Leisure will actually come out and put stickers on the cars that are parked in the wheelchair spaces just out of laziness.
For a long time I thought there were almost too many Wheelchair spaces, but now between KARE, IWA and various locals recuperating from’ a stroke, Parkinson’s disease etc , those spaces tend to be used by legitimate users, not vile morons who want to keep their hair dry.
I am so glad that k Leisure Naas is embracing us all fully. So many other places, would only pay lip service!
Link used for this post: http://kildareleisure.ie/naas