DisABILITY sport can play a key role in rehabilitation and recovery for someone who has suffered life-changing industry.
As some may already be aware, I am known for my unusual eating habits and for dodging the office treats. If I cannot be found behind my desk, then it’s likely I am in the local gym across the road.
In the last 18 months there has been a large movement towards increasing awareness of disABILITY in the world of bodybuilding. In 2015, there were 9 bodybuilding events established. This year there are 20 and for the first time in history the IFBB Arnold Classic introduced a IFBB Pro Wheelchair Class.
One person who has been at the forefront of this development is Josh Goodfellow. After competing in 2014 he has worked hard to raise awareness of disability within the sport and recently Josh kindly agree to take some time to answer a few questions of mine:-
What is your disability and how does it affect you?
I have a disABILITY called Cerebral Palsy- CP is a multi-movement disABILITY that is categorised in many different forms, my CP is diagnosed as Spastic Diplegia, a condition that affects my lower limbs, movement, function, balance, flexibility and other fine motor skills.
I was born 10 weeks premature and that is thought to be the reason behind my CP.
How did you get into bodybuilding?
I actually started life as an athlete- a 100m & 200m sprinter –from the age of 13 I was an athlete, I only got into that itself by chance, after a school life disrupted by ridicule and bullying it was suggested to me to take up something extra-curricular to channel my time and aggression.
I was fortunate enough to be fairly successful and at my point of retirement- the tender age of 17 – I had won numerous national 100m and 200m titles, broken national records, topped the UK ranking and at my peak I spent a short amount of time at the top of the World & European Rankings.
…I digress, upon retiring from Athletics I began working in a local gym, after a few months I needed something to fill the void that athletics had once filled since I was 13 so I began casually weight-training, after a few months of that I needed to feed my competitive fire, so I looked into the prospects of Bodybuilding.
How easy was it to get into?
Bodybuilding and the health and fitness industry as a whole is a HUGE entity, “getting into it” so to speak is fairly easy as the community is massive, diverse and accessible for the majority.
I utilised Social Media as much as possible and once I’d stipulated what I wanted to do, in regards to goals, I set about exploring prospects and opportunities that surround the aforementioned goals.
How did you go about finding a show?
Very much the same as above, I utilised Social Media, at the time of my 1st proposed Bodybuilding Show I wasn’t aware of any competitive opportunities for people with disABILITIES so I set my sights on a Natural Bodybuilding competition.
The NPA Yorkshire Championships in May 2014, prior to that though I came across the Hercules Olympia, a show run by a gentleman called Scott Horton, at his show he founded a disABILITY Class- at the time it was called the “Invictus Category” 3 athletes took to the stage that day and although I wasn’t there spectating seeing the coverage and photo’s after that event was so inspiring and pleasing, not only did the guys and girls involved inspire everyone far and wide that day but it opened the door to myself and so many others who’d been looking to compete and showcase their disABILITIES on a bodybuilding stage.
What obstacles did you come across along the way?
Initially my first obstacle was looking at competitive opportunities for people with disABILITIES, having seen the Hercules Olympia though that was the first of only 2 real obstacles out of the way.
The second obstacle was preparing for the show itself. Preparing for a Bodybuilding show is a long, challenging process. Often taking anywhere from 12-16 weeks. The idea is to lose as much body-fat as possible whilst retaining as much muscle mass as possible. It is physically demanding at the best of times, but as time goes on it gets more difficult and more demanding not to mention preparing for a Bodybuilding show whilst living and working with a disABILITY.
The mind games, the exhaustion, pain, the diet, everything that is involved with a bodybuilding show is HARD.
One of the single most rewarding things you can do.
How did you overcome them?
Overcoming the first challenge although difficult was hugely rewarding, the competitive opportunities for the sport although limited, had scope to increase and improve, thanks to the foundations that Scott Horton began, disABILITY Bodybuilding and it’s athletes had a platform in which to develop.
Moving on from May 2014 the second opportunity to compete came in November 2014, an event class in which I sponsored. I was committed and passionate about developing the sport that I wanted to play my part in helping the sport develop.
Since then disABILITY Bodybuilding has grown massively and now is one of the fastest growing sports within the health and fitness industry, with regular shows, including the annual Hercules Olympia show and an ever-growing number of athletes.
As for the obstacle of prep, you can’t overcome it, this is why bodybuilding isn’t for everyone, it requires a lot of mental strength and a sound attitude otherwise it’ll bring you to your knees and take no mercy.
What did you prep involve?
Competition preparation involves a prolonged period of nutritional preparation to help lose body-fat and preserve muscle-mass. There is no “1 size fits all” in regards to nutrition but low carbohydrate dieting and carbohydrate cycling are popular methods used during preparation.
Prep also involves resistance training and Cardio- Vascular training to help aid your physique and get it into the required shape and condition that comes with a show.
What benefits had bodybuilding had for you?
Bodybuilding and sport has changed my life. In the 18 months that I’ve been involved with it, it’s been nothing but positive. I’ve been lucky enough to play a part in the development of disABILITY Bodybuilding which in itself is priceless, I’ve also competed 11 times, meeting people, making friends and making memories along the way.
What is your organisation?
I run a non-profit organisation called JGFitness, committed to supporting people with disABILITIES and the development of disABILITY Bodybuilding.
We aim to make the industry more accessible for people with disABILITIES and channel our resources into the aforementioned. It’s not been without it’s trials and tribulations but I am proud of JGFitness, the service it provides and the small part we play within the industry to help make the industry a more diverse, equal and accessible place for all!
Has there been improvement in making bodybuilding accessible as a sport?
The sport of disABILITY Bodybuilding has grown massively in a short space of time, the community of athletes has grown, the competitive opportunities has grown and the industry has never been so diverse and accessible, although there’s still work to be done!
What would you like to see for the future?
I would love to see disABILITY Bodybuilding continue to grow, become further established and then one day I’d love to see the sport have opportunities to compete on an international level and see the sport represented around the world with a diverse group of athletes all proudly showcasing there disABILITIES for the world and a wider audience to see.
The IFBB Wheelchair Bodybuilding division is making history all the time and more recently had the opportunity to compete at the Arnold Classic- one of the largest shows in the industry- I’d love to see similar opportunities for the sport of disABILITY Bodybuilding and it’s athletes one day!
For further details of upcoming events, advice and competitive opportunities head over to one of JGFitness’ pages:-
#DontQuit #IM #TheLegalBagel #DisABILITY #JGFitness