Aspire National Training Centre, UK
Kelly Donald, Specialist Instructor
After completing a BSc Podiatry degree at the University of Southampton in 2007, Kelly was employed by the National Health Service as a podiatrist under the Birmingham East and North Primary Care Trust. She developed an awareness of the importance of health and fitness in her early 20’s, which lead to a keen interest in running as a whole body exercise. She went on to participate in the 2000 Chicago marathon, and later ran in a number of half marathons and 10 km races in the UK. She joined the Sparkhill Harriers Athletics Club in 2009. Tragically, a fall on 28th July 2010 resulted in her breaking her back whilst training for the 3 Day 3 Peaks Challenge which left her with a T10 complete spinal cord injury (SCI).
Not being put off by such a life-changing event, Kelly focused on her interest in health and fitness as a coping strategy. It was whilst investigating her exercise options that she read an article in the UK Spinal Injuries Association’s bimonthly magazine Forward. The article was written by Robin Gibbons, and featured a new study to investigate cardiorespiratory health and fitness in people with SCI using an adapted rowing machine and a technology called Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES). Kelly believes that this was a life-changing moment in what she considers as her blackest hour. She saw the study as a challenge and an opportunity to be involved again in something she loved dearly: keeping fit.
Kelly went on the complete the next study with Robin that was designed to investigate effect of FES-rowing training on skeletal health. These studies re-fueled her passion in health and fitness, and motivated her to participate in a novel initiative by the SCI charity Aspire in collaboration with YMCAfit. The programme is called InstructAbility and is designed to train instructors with physical impairments. Kelly will be sharing her passion for health and fitness with others in SCI community as a specialist trainer with the FES-Rowing Group.
Lindsay Liggett, Specialist Instructor
Three years ago Lindsay was a wife and mum of two young children. Then in September 2011, her life changed forever. Driving home with her two young children, a car pulled out in front of her causing both vehicles to collide. She and her children were taken to hospital where the specialist diagnosed her and her son with whiplash. However, her back pain continued to increase, and she started loosing sensation and movement in her left leg. After numerous further visits to her GP and a local hospital, she was eventually diagnosed with a burst spinal cavernoma. Following a neurological assessment, she was told she had a T6 complete spinal cord injury. Her life was in turmoil. Her husband had to stop working to help look after the family, and they had to find alternative accommodation. Then her mother became very ill and within weeks passed away.
However, being a fighter, Lindsay would not give up. On discharge from hospital, she put all her energy into becoming as independent as possible. She started driving again in an adapted car, and decided that health and fitness was the key to the best quality of life for her and her family. In 2013, she chanced on an advert at the Aspire National Training Centre. A researcher at Brunel University was recruiting spinal cord injured people for a cardiorespiratory study that involved the use of an adapted rowing machine and a technology called Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES). Lindsay went on to volunteer for the follow-on study that investigated bone health following FES-rowing training. The rest, as they say was history. The research studies enabled her to meet other like-minded people, and motivated her to want to encourage others to get fit and healthy too. This led her to an innovative new fitness instructor course for people with disabilities called InstructAbility. She completed the course in 2014 and is now working at the Aspire National Training Centre. Lindsay is also working with the FES-Rowing Group where she is being trained as a specialist instructor to help with promotion and recruitment, and eventually the training of people in forthcoming studies.