Alex Turley embodies all that we at Active Hands strive for; determined, strong-willed and very, very active! Alex is a 26 year old from Essex who is currently following her interest in animals by studying for an equine science degree. Not content with just studying however, Alex also trains and competes in horse-riding (including dressage), swimming, wheelchair racing and regularly completes weights-based workouts in the gym.

Alex lifts with the quad glove

Born prematurely, Alex’s doctors hypothesise that some of her neuropathic pathways did not fully form: a condition so rare, it remains unnamed. As a teenager, Alex lost the use of her left arm and was paralysed for a year, before finding a surgeon who could help. Four years ago, Alex also lost the use of her left leg and her foot has twisted from dystonia.

Although she has regained a lot of the function in her arm, she still struggles with grip, in particular holding heavy items in her hand or raising her arms above her head whilst gripping.

But none of these challenges have prevented Alex from taking an active part in a wide range of sports. She began swimming at a young age and continues to find it relaxing, as well as a great way to exercise without needing to use her legs. She also rides with Barrow Farm RDA and takes part in dressage competitions. “I enjoy [these] as it gives me clear goals to work towards and a sense of achievement.”

horse rider

Most recently, having seen a facebook post asking people to trial wheelchair racing, Alex has begun training at Harlow racing club, coached by Richard Chiassaro. “I’ve been doing it for a few months now and have found it difficult but rewarding. It gives me some bigger goals to set myself.”

To support her achievements in these sports, Alex’s physio suggested she try weight training. Having joined a new gym and eager to begin, Alex was introduced to Active Hands. She quickly found that the General Purpose gripping aid gave her the confidence to carry out her exercises without worrying at all that she would drop the weights or lose grip on a bar, which would cause more injuries.

Alex lifts with the General Purpose gripping aid

“When I first used the gripping aid, I found them to fit comfortably, which is important to me. Once they were done up around a dumbbell they felt secure and didn’t slip, move or undo. All these things have given me the confidence to trust in the aid, especially inside the gym.”

Over the next year, Alex is looking forward to competing in the Dressage Anywhere Championships and is hoping to gain funding for her own race chair and rollers to enable her to progress in her newest sport. If you would like to read more about Alex, or to help her fund her race chair, you can find her on facebook, her own website, or head to her Go Fund Me page.

Alex is clearly a very motivated and determined athlete who is achieving big things. But her advice for others is simple.

“Remember that everyone starts somewhere and everyone has at one stage been at the beginning and new to their sport or activity. Give yourself goals to work towards so that when you complete these it’s an accomplishment.”

Jo Smith