Disabled Fitness Professionals and Leisure Industry Partners Awarded At InstructAbility Celebration Event

On Tuesday 13th October, 150 disabled fitness professionals and personnel from some of the leading leisure companies gathered at The Village Hotel Watford to celebrate the success of the InstructAbility Programme.

Tables at the Celebration Event

Hilary Farmiloe, InstructAbility National Project Manager, opened the evening with a review of the project since its creation in 2010 by Aspire, the spinal injury charity and YMCAfit.

Guests at the event, sponsored by Matrix Fitness, heard how the scheme has supported over 200 disabled people to qualify as fitness professionals.  Instructors have contributed  20,000 hours of voluntary service to the leisure industry to encourage more disabled people to feel welcome and supported in the gym environment.  Over 50% of graduates have been offered employment following their initial three month voluntary gym placement.

Hilary Farmiloe paid tribute to Sport England for investing in the scheme: “Funding InstructAbility has changed disabled peoples lives, enabled us to raise awareness in the industry, lower barriers for disabled fitness instructors and customers and, I believe, make an indelible mark upon the fitness industry.”

Lindsay Games, Sport England Senior Disability Manager and Steven Ward, Executive Director of ukactive, commended the project for its inclusive ethos and positive impact in supporting more disabled people to get active.

Certificates were presented to InstructAbility graduates and placement providers for their participation in the programme. Richard Webb was one student who captured the audience’s imagination when it was revealed that his lower leg had been amputated just five weeks ago due to injuries sustained whilst serving in Afghanistan. He was hailed as an example of the determination shown by many disabled fitness professionals to overcome challenges and use exercise to promote recovery and maintain fitness.

Award winners 2015

Successful partnerships between disabled fitness professionals and their employers were recognised with special awards during the three course dinner. These awards highlighted the capacity of the scheme to engage disabled people in fitness activities, led by instructors who are experts from experience in areas such as stroke recovery, mobility issues and sensory impairments.

The evening culminated in a glow stick extravaganza as visually impaired instructor Michelle Felix and fellow graduate Sam James, who has cerebral palsy, led the guests in an energetic Clubbercise session.

The Award Winners:

Sponsor:              Leisure-net Solutions    

Winner:                Ishtiaq Hussain  & Places for People, Wolverhampton Pool & Fitness Centre

Award:                 Engagement - For engaging 23 new deaf clients in gym sessions led by a deaf instructor, majority of which had not attended before due to communication barriers.


Sponsor:              English Federation of Disability Sport

Winner:                Craig Thompson & GLL, The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Centre

Award:                 Engagement – For engaging a record 38 new disabled clients with athlefit and chair based exercise sessions for young people.


Sponsor:              Right Directions

Winner:                Lee Welch & Everyone Active, Hartham Leisure Centre

Award:                 Development - For secured Sportivate funding to set up inclusive fitness circuit sessions particularly encouraging people with limited mobility.


Sponsor:              Leisure Database Company        

Winner:                Kate Bosley & Village, The Hotel Club Maidstone

Award:                 Development – For creating a swimming and gym programme for young disabled people and developing links with the local GP surgery.


Sponsor:              Momentum Business Development       

Winner:                Lee Cartwright & Everyone Active, Waltham Abbey Swimming & Fitness Centre

Award:                 Development – For setting up a successful stroke survivors’ fitness group at Waltham Abbey.


Sponsor:              Active Hands     

Winner:                Judith Caunter & The John Pounds Centre

Award:                 Development -                 For securing a large grant from the Big Lottery Fund to purchase accessible gym equipment to enhance Judith’s work to support disabled clients.


Spirit of InstructAbility Award Winners sponsored by Matrix Fitness:      

Sam James                          For promoting inclusive fitness in national industry publications and her development work with Zumba and Clubbercise.

Andrew Jackson-Shaw   For long term volunteering to support spinally injured patients in their rehabilitation at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Michelle Felix                    For promoting accessible training, resources and fitness equipment for visually impaired instructors and clients.

Dorit Chomer                     For promoting the inclusive fitness ethos far and wide, with enthusiasm and commitment.