With the end of festive excess and the start of a brand new year, many of us will be taking our annual trip aboard the New Year, New Me express train; looking to rebalance our diet, get back into exercise and work on our overall health. For me this often starts in the first week of January, when a panicked realisation sets in of just how askew my calories consumed versus calories burnt has been for the last fortnight! This time however I decided to plan ahead, and in early December I signed up to the Adapt To Perform membership website, a newly launched subscription service from personal trainer Ben Clark, who is considered a world leading expert on adapted fitness and whose YouTube channel featuring not just fitness content but videos dealing with all aspects of life with a disability, has thousands of followers. 

I was one of these followers and had found Ben’s live daily workout videos during lockdown especially helpful in not just allowing me to maintain a certain level of fitness but also in helping me not feel quite so isolated during that time. I was naturally intrigued when he launched this subscription service and signed up for the two week free trial before Christmas, giving it a thorough exploration in the process. Below is a summary of my findings: what’s on offer, what I got out of it, and why I think this could be the ideal way for myself and many others to get back into fitness in 2022. 

Ben is a personal trainer who specialises in exercising for all abilities

Simplicity Is The Key

The first thing worth mentioning is just how straightforward it is to navigate your way around the site. The homepage or ‘Locker Room’ is where you can find all the sections relating to fitness and exercise, with a basic explanation of each alongside them. Dipping in for a quick workout? Hit the ‘Train’ tab. Following an ongoing fitness programme? Click on ‘Your Transformation’. Want to do some stretching and breathing exercises? Go to the ‘Recover’ section. An overly complex layout can so easily confuse and intimidate people, instantly putting them off even trying things out; but this setup has clearly been put together with user friendliness firmly in mind.

Another thing that was made abundantly clear very early on was that you don’t need to have a home gym packed full of equipment to get the most out of this service, allaying one of the initial fears I had going in. In fact, a large portion of the exercises on offer are done without using any equipment at all, and all of them can be carried out from any space in and around of the house, all you need is enough room to spread your arms. Even where equipment is necessary, it’s never anything more complex than the likes of resistance bands, wrist weights/dumb-bells, or a lightweight pole; all relatively inexpensive and easy to acquire. And with each exercise only lasting between 10-20 minutes, it’s really easy to fit them into your day. The mantra behind this is simple: no matter who you are, where you are, how much time you have or what you have with you, you can always access exercise.

The locker room contains options for working out

Train – Your Daily Ritual

As I mentioned, the homepage ‘Locker Room’ is split into various sections, the top one being ‘Train – Your Daily Ritual’. Here you will find a weekly selection of exercises that allows you to tailor your own workout programme, covering all manner of fitness aspects such as cardio speed/endurance, back strength, pull strength, push challenge, chest endurance and many more. If you’re not sure what most of these mean or feel intimidated by them then don’t panic, clicking on one takes you to the relevant page, where you can choose your difficulty/intensity level and are given a video walkthrough of each exercise along with clearly written instructions. 

The Adapt To Perform website is laid out clearly to help you find exercises to suit you

I worked my way through the selection and will admit to being both impressed and surprised for a number of reasons. The sheer range and variety of exercises Ben demonstrates you can do from a wheelchair is quite something, and as a fellow quadriplegic I knew that none of these would be unrealistic for me to attempt; incorporating the General Purpose Gripping Aids into any exercises involving dumb-bells or the lightweight pole, and the Hook Aids into any exercises involving resistance bands. As someone with what I consider to be a relatively good level of fitness due to playing wheelchair rugby, I jumped straight into the high intensity level and couldn’t believe how gruelling I found some of the workouts; with one pyramid session involving absolutely no weights or equipment leaving me panting and aching afterwards (but in a good way I promise)! However, you are never pushed to do more than you’re comfortable with or go to a higher level of intensity, with Ben suggesting ways to make each exercise both easier and harder should you wish. 

By far my favourite aspect is the videos that accompany each exercise, where Ben goes through each one in real-time, allowing you to follow along with him. Having this virtual workout partner undoubtedly helped me stick to each exercise, encouraging me to keep pace and ensuring I knew exactly what I was doing at all times. Ben talks you through each stage, letting you know what muscles are being worked and what the benefits are. He also firmly believes that no person should feel left out and encourages anyone who is struggling to contact him directly so they can work out a solution together. It really is like having your own personal trainer. 

Exercises don't always require equipment and are clearly explained. Some use Active hands gripping aids

Your Adapt to Perform Transformation

The next section is the featured programme ‘Your Transformation Vol. 1’. Here you will find a 6 week daily exercise schedule, with each day allotted a specific type of workout; from cardio to recovery, resistance to rest. The exercises found here are all of a similar type, set out in a similar way to those found in the first section and thus come with all of the same benefits. 

The added bonus of this section is that you have a schedule laid out for you to follow, perfect for beginners looking to get into exercise, as well as those looking to commit to a New Year fitness regimen. And with the promise of further Volumes to come, this could be the perfect programme to start 2022 off with!

The Adapt To Perform website has a six week plan for you

The Full Fitness Arsenal

There are four further sections that aim to work alongside the first two, helping you to achieve a fully rounded fitness lifestyle. These are as follows:

Recover – Your Space To Relax, Breathe, Stretch and Recover

How we treat our bodies after exercise can be just as important as the exercise itself. Here you can wind down from a workout with some follow along videos that help link your mind to your body. A variety of stretches, breathing techniques (great for overcoming the likes of anxiety and panic attacks), and body/yoga movements encourage the flow of energy, improve reach, stop our muscles tightening and aid overall recovery after exercise. 

Blog – Latest News, Tips and Information

A great source of written information; here you will find entries that breakdown all the terminology used throughout the exercises, how to work out intelligently, and how to train your mind for exercise. There are also entries that address the importance of hydration and a balanced diet; looking at things such as protein, carbs, sugar, micronutrients and portion sizes. I found these particularly insightful and easy to understand, with many of them including a list of foods that best help you to achieve a healthy balance in each category.

YouTube – Free Online Training

A link to the online training videos available on the ATP YouTube page.

Live – Train With The Community

An exciting sounding, soon to be launched section that promises to bring you live training sessions through the week; allowing people to work out online together as a virtual class.

In Conclusion

In what could be the first of its kind (certainly the first that I’ve been aware of), Adapt To Perform has created an online membership service where working out with limited mobility isn’t just a tacked on afterthought but rather the entire focus. Comprehensively diving into the physical, mental and dietary aspects of fitness, there are more than enough exercises, along with helpful hints and tips, to keep you coming back week after week. And if it keeps expanding the way it promises, with live community workout sessions soon to be added, then this really could develop into something quite unique. 

So grab those Active Hands, give that Adapt to Perform two week free trial a go, and see what a difference it makes; at the very least you’ll be giving yourself a great head start in the post-holiday fitness drive. I’ve already signed up for my first full month of membership which, after all the recent excess, is probably the wisest investment I’ll make all year! 

Active Hands have teamed up with Adapt To Perform and they are offering our customers 50% off an annual subscription in January and February 2022.

Gareth Herridge