Joshua Taylor, aged 16 from Whitstable, recently qualified as a fitness instructor through the multi-award winning InstructAbility programme, which encourages people with a disability to work in the fitness industry. Joshua is one of many newly qualified fitness instructors who are proving that age, disability and health issues need not be a barrier to a career in the fitness industry.

Joshua is a sprinter who has been representing Great Britain since 2010. He has cerebral palsy but has always been active, being a keen footballer for ten years before taking up athletics. As a sprinter, he is currently ranked in the top 3 in both the 100m and 200m in Paralympic Athletics (T38 category).

The InstructAbility project was originally created by Aspire, the spinal injury charity and YMCAfit, the leading fitness training provider, to enable unemployed, disabled people to train as gym instructors. The newly qualified instructors then work to engage more disabled people in fitness sessions.

Josh says, “Since starting my placement at Lifestyle Fitness, Canterbury, my aim is to become a personal trainer. Under the guidance of my manager, Darren Curley, he’s really opened my eyes to the different roles within the fitness environment (for example non-coaching roles, outreach, marketing, professionalism and business operations).

If I hadn’t chosen Lifestyle Fitness as my placement I don’t think my ambitions would have been as widely spread as they are now. I’m truly grateful for Darren for giving me the opportunity, especially for the length of time I’ve been here, so I thank him for that.”

Darren Curley, Club Manager at Lifestyle Fitness Canterbury says, “Josh joined Lifestyle Fitness Canterbury with the ambition to get disabled individuals involved in fitness, and he very quickly engaged with a local group called maps who have attended a session every Wednesday under his guidance. His scope is to complete a 6 week programme with each individual, not only to build confidence and self-esteem as a group, but also to give them all the benefits of exercise individually.  He is also focusing on setting up an open day to make all the community aware of how disabled individuals can get involved in sport and fitness. I am very proud to have someone like Josh involved in the club and I admire his commitment to working within this area.”