Jude found a new career through InstructAbility

InstructAbility Graduate Jude


During an MRI scan in 2008 a cluster of abnormal blood vessels, also known as a cavernoma, was detected in Jude’s spinal cord and it was recommended that she undergo surgery to have it removed.

After being told that losing weight would increase the odds of her having a successful surgery, Jude lost six stone in weight. However, the surgery didn’t have the result Jude was hoping for and after a tense six months she had to come to terms with the fact that, far from increasing her level of mobility, the operation had actually reduced it significantly.

Not one to be beaten, Jude turned her attention to the world of Parasport and became a member of a local Sitting Volleyball team and an active member of City of Portsmouth Athletics Club.


Not sure which direction to turn after redundancy, she came across the InstructAbility Programme and realised it would be an ideal opportunity to embark on a career in fitness and help disabled people at the same time.
Jude said, “When I was large I always thought that I couldn't exercise because I was disabled but now I thoroughly enjoy exercise and it makes me feel so much better about myself. I would like to encourage others to join me in finding out what they can do and have some fun too.”

InstructAbility Graduate Jude with her cohort

After qualifying Jude did her industry work placement at the John Pounds Centre in Portsea, Portsmouth and subsequently took up a part time fitness instructor position there where she ran a scheme to help get disabled people into exercising.

InstructAbility Graduate Jude


Jude says: “The last two years being employed by John Pounds Centre have been amazing. I've learnt so much and continue to do so by reading and attending events such as Elevate and courses that InstructAbility invite me to like the Clubbercise Instructor course.


“I find my job tremendously rewarding, with people thanking me for helping them with lifestyle changes and helping them in the gym. All my colleagues at John Pounds have been really supportive of me as well as enabling me to live the dream.”


In 2015, Jude won an InstructAbility Development Award which recognised her working in partnership with John Pounds Centre to develop inclusive fitness.


Jude’s career continues to go from strength to strength. Last year she gained a level 3 certificate in Personal Training from YMCAFIT in Brighton and a level 3 Diploma in Exercise Referral from YMCAFIT in Portsmouth. So far this year she has gained her level 4 BACPR cardiac rehab exercise instructor qualification and is working to build a Phase IV cardiac rehab scheme.


Although she has given up competitive athletics, she continues to keep active herself and last year ran the Great South Run, raising over £500 for charity. She continues to support the InstructAbility Programme, taking part in their presentation at Elevate.

InstructAbility has given Sarah confidence and a new focus

Instructability Graduate Sarah in the gym

Sarah had been a full time carer for 11 years for her son who has autism when a friend gave her a leaflet about InstructAbility. She says, “I have always been interested in sports and I thought it would be great to have a qualification in something I’m passionate about.

“I have lived with depression and anxiety for 25 years. Having a hidden disability is difficult as people don't understand it, even though I try to explain, because I look like I'm ok but inside I'm facing difficulties most of the time.

“I completed the InstructAbility gym instructor course and then did a work placement at Park Road Pools & Fitness leisure centre, where I am now a permanent part-time employee working ten hours a week.

“InstructAbility has helped me to understand that exercise is a key element to positive mental health. It has helped me to express myself and no longer hide my disability, which is an important part of me. I am able to use all the skills and knowledge that I gained on the course to show disabled people that exercise is for everyone.

“I now plan to become a personal trainer because one-to-one or training small groups is what I feel most comfortable doing. InstructAbility has opened up my world and given me a new focus. I have gained confidence and feel like I am in a new phase of my life. After not working for ten years I am now employed, as well as caring for my son. I am able to manage my depression and anxiety better because I am doing something for me that I enjoy.”