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From Partial Paralysis To Personal Trainer

We were recently contacted by Lewis, a 26 year old fitness enthusiast from Romford, Essex; whose life over the past 12 years has been a roller-coaster ride of physical and emotional highs and lows. He spoke to us in depth about his condition, the depression that initially came with it, and how discovering Active Hands not only helped him overcome some of these challenges, but also allowed him to embark upon his dream career.

This is his story…

Lewis in gym with General Purpose aid holding free weight
Lewis in gym with General Purpose aid

All his life, Lewis has been passionate about sports and keeping fit. As a child he competed in as many sports as he could, excelling at football, rugby and boxing. However, Lewis was forced to give all this up when, at the age of 14, he began suffering from a very rare brain condition called Rasmussen’s Encephalitis. This condition was caused by his immune system attacking the right side of his brain, leading him to suffer frequent, aggressive seizures. Over time these seizures became even more severe and, in 2011, at the age of 18, Lewis had to have a life saving operation called a Hemispherectomy, where doctors disconnected the right hemisphere of his brain!

Although the operation was successful in stopping the seizures, it left Lewis with partial paralysis down his entire left side, affecting his arm, leg and even the side of his face. This sudden paralysis had a huge affect on Lewis psychologically, and even after intensive physio and speech and language therapy had improved his overall condition, he was still left in an extremely negative mind frame. For the next 18 months, Lewis was consumed by depression and anxiety, believing he could now do nothing with his life; barely leaving the house for fear of people staring at and judging him. However, after forcing himself to face his fears and join a gym, that slowly began to change.

The feeling of working out and building up a sweat rekindled Lewis’ love of fitness, and as his physical strength grew, so did his confidence. He started spending more and more time at the gym, although he found the lack of grip in his left hand frustrating as it limited what he was able to do. Then in 2013, an instructor at the gym spotted Lewis struggling to find something suitable to help him lift weights with and suggested he try the Active Hands General Purpose gripping aid.

The results were instantaneous:

Left: Lewis in wheelchair. Right: Lewis standing in gym with General Purpose on hand

“Active Hands has made my training so much easier and I have seen many improvements since! I can focus on performing exercises better rather than my grip & worrying about dropping weights! Because of Active Hands helping my training, this helps me keep a positive mind set!”

Lewis no longer felt limited in what he could do with his left arm whilst at the gym and began working out in exactly the same way as he did with his right arm; using his General Purpose gripping aid to allow him to lift dumbbells, barbells and operate any other necessary gym apparatus. His passion and flair for fitness now fully rekindled, the gym quickly became Lewis’ life:

“I love working out! I’m in the gym almost 24/7 it helps with my disability so much mentally and physically!”

Lewis began to realise that the gym could not only be a passionate pastime for him, but also a career; and in 2016, five years after the operation that had left him paralysed down one side, Lewis became a fully qualified personal trainer, a goal he confesses he initially thought would be unreachable until he discovered Active Hands.

“I mainly use the Active Hands gripping aid to lift weights in the gym and it has helped me to demonstrate exercises for my clients as a personal trainer. This has helped me in my life a lot!”

As a personal trainer who deals with clients every day, Lewis now has no issues with confidence at all, and has even become a public speaker; sharing his stories in various schools, day centres and events, as well as at the Headway East London charity who supported Lewis and his family after his operation. He recently shared some of his fitness videos with his consultant at Great Ormond Street Hospital:

lewis with nurse
Lewis with a nurse

“He was amazed at how well I was doing and asked if he could share my videos with other doctors and patients, he asked about what I was using in the gym, so I told him how Active Hands has become the most important piece of gym equipment I use.”

Becoming a personal trainer and public speaker is something Lewis is immensely proud of, and he continues to push himself to achieve more goals; recently ordering himself a pair of Active Hands Hook Aids that he is excited to try out. However, it is not just in the gym where Lewis’ dreams and life goals reside. Earlier this year, Lewis and his fiancée Amie welcomed a baby daughter into the world, and Lewis knows he is the perfect role model to teach her that she can achieve anything she wants to in life!

Lewis with partner and child

“My main future goal is to be the best father I can be…to share my story as much as I can…and you never know hopefully one day publish a book!”

Gareth Herridge