This Monday’s #madeinsandwell spotlight falls on FUNction Fitness, an all-inclusive fitness company run by Sandwell entrepreneur and fitness professional Wendy Hall.
Dudley resident Wendy suffered total paralysis as a result of a fall in 2008 and now has spinal injury. Exercise has been an important part of her recovery and since her accident she has been on a mission to make exercise accessible for everyone, whatever their ability or disability.
FUNction Fitness classes and workshops take place all over Sandwell and cover strength, balance, cardio and co-ordination, creating a total wellbeing session for everyone. Whether you use a wheelchair, walking aids or need support staff, it’s not a problem for Wendy.
Current participants of FUNction Fitness classes include amputees, spinal cord injury patients, clients suffering with lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS), cystic fibrosis (CF), muscular dystrophy, arthritis and mental health issues, people who have had a stroke, have visual impairments, and older age groups, as well as regular gym users.
FUNction Fitness works in partnership with other organisations with a similar ethos, including Active Black Country, Sandwell Visually Impaired, Activity Alliance and local Different Strokes, a charity that supports young stroke patients and families.
In 2018 Aspire – a national spinal injury charity and inclusive community leisure facility – invited Wendy to support it as a positive role model to help encourage more disabled people to join its pan-disability leisure workforce programme InstructAbility, which supports disabled people, training providers and employers to get more disabled people working in active leisure.
FUNction Fitness also provides training for fitness professionals, since Wendy developed her FUNction Fitness classes into a CIMSPA (Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity) recognised training programme.
The FUNction Fitness training enables other fitness professionals with a Level 2 Instructor qualification to learn how to deliver inclusive exercise classes that are fun, effective and accessible to anyone.
Since 2017 Wendy has also been working with Activity Alliance (previously known as the English Federation of Disability Sport), a charity that joins members, partners and disabled people to make active lives possible. Its aim is to challenge perceptions and change the reality of disability, inclusion and sport.
In 2019 Activity Alliance launched the IncludeMeWM campaign in partnership with West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA). Wendy is vice chair to the initiative and works to promote positive awareness and support around disability and exercise to the wider community across Sandwell and the whole of the West Midlands.
Wendy said “I am determined to change perceptions and increase inclusivity and accessibility to fitness for disabled people. I would like to see all industries working with a more diverse population in the future.”
Her plans for the future of FUNction Fitness include the delivery of more workshops, and the sharing of knowledge to help fitness providers have the confidence to dare to be different and effect change across society.
FUNction Fitness ended 2019 on a high, after winning Specialised Personal Trainer of The Year from Birmingham Prestige Awards. Having also recently won Fitness Class of the Year with LTG Awards it looks like 2020 is set to be another successful year for FUNction Fitness.
Congratulations to Wendy and keep up the inspirational work for Sandwell!
#madeinsandwell Monday is a celebration of the talent and diversity within our borough. If you’re interested in being considered for a #madeinsandwell Monday profile and having information about your organisation shared on Think Sandwell and through Twitter, read this.