2024-06-17 14:12:25

Market Harborough gym celebrates inclusiveness for learning disabled adults

A gym in Market Harborough, Leics, is helping learning disabled people to break down barriers they’ve previously faced when attending gym sessions.

Learning disabled adults supported by charity Hft recently celebrated three years of attending the gym, bucking the trend recently reported of a significant ‘activity gap’ between disabled people and their non-disabled peers, despite disabled people expressing a strong desire to be more active.

Activity Alliance’s latest Sport and Disability Survey found that disabled people are twice as likely to be inactive compared to the general population, a disparity that has remained consistent since the report was first published five years ago.

“At Hft, we’re always looking for ways we can support learning disabled adults to overcome barriers in society. One of those barriers is the way in which learning disabled adults can get active,” explains Hft team coordinator, Henry Parry-Williams.

Nick is wearing red boxing gloves and practising his skills with a black boxing bag in front of him

Nick wearing some bright red boxing gloves and practising his skills on a boxing bag

“As we celebrate Learning Disability Week this week, the theme of ‘Do you see me?’ is really apt for this group of people.  Studies have shown that physical activity can boost our self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy. However, it can be difficult for learning disabled adults to attend regular gym sessions due to facilities being inaccessible and non-inclusive.

“The people we support take part in a variety of exercises at each session including weight training, rope training, boxing and even getting on the spin bikes but what makes these classes so unique and enjoyable is the way the organisers mix up the sessions. There’s a chance to do karaoke as well as some dance sessions to help keep everyone engaged,” says Henry.

Nick, a person supported by Hft who takes part in Movements Gym, says: “I enjoy going to the gym, especially the cycling and weight lifting. I like singing songs from Joseph and His Technicolour Dreamcoat at the end of the class.”

Louise is enjoying a ride on a static bike, she's wearing a patterned top and sparkly trainers, and has a big smile on her face.

Louise enjoying a ride on a static bike in her sparkly trainers!

Henry continues: “The activity remains one of the most popular on the timetable, and this is in no small part due to the efforts of Juliet and Danni at the gym, who have curated bespoke exercise programmes designed to help people be fit and healthy, while having a great amount of fun doing so.”

Gym founder Danni says: “It’s been heartening to witness the growth and positivity radiating from each participant and really getting to know them over the years. From riding the spin bikes to using the aerobic steps, every moment shared is a testament to the power of sweet endorphins and the magical effects it can have on our minds and bodies.”

She concludes: “Here’s to celebrating our vibrant inclusive community, and embracing many more years of joyful movement with our incredible superstars.”

Notes to editors

For further information please phone 07500 224654 or email media.enquiries@hft.org.uk

About Hft

Proudly established in 1962 by a group of visionary parents, Hft is a charity supporting more than 2,500 learning disabled adults in England and Wales. Together, we are creating a future where learning disabled people and their families can live the best life possible.

Providing personalised support. Creating solutions for living independently. Coming together to campaign for positive change. Fundraising for new opportunities and a bigger impact.

In 2033, we’ll live in a world where learning disabled people have greater choice. About where they live. The support they need and want. And how to spend their time and money.


Learning disability versus difficulty


A learning disability is different from a learning difficulty but the terms are often confused and used inter-changeably. A learning difficulty does not affect general intellect, whereas a learning disability is a life-long condition characterised by a reduced intellectual ability and struggle with everyday activities.

For more information about Hft please visit www.hft.org.uk