Fit Tech people
Ali Jawad

Users can easily identify which facilities in the UK are accessible to the disabled community


What is Accessercise?
Accessercise is one of the first fitness apps specifically designed for the disabled community. It has a unique exercise library that can be tailored to a person’s specific needs. Users can build workouts, schedule these to their calendar and filter, based on a range of options including difficulty, location and available equipment.

There’s a social hub where we interact with our community, both individually and within groups, as well as an ‘explore’ section that has the UK’s fitness facilities mapped out. Those that are rated high enough by our users through our rating system are marked as verified gyms, allowing users to easily identify which facilities are accessible to the disabled community. We’ll soon be adding nutrition information, blogs, podcasts and much more for our users.

How did you come up with the idea?
My co-founder, former international sailor Sam Brearey, and I were discussing the pandemic and the impact on the disabled community, as well as the athletes heading off to Japan for the Olympic Games. Within those discussions we identified there was nothing even close to Accessercise in the market, and it was something that could benefit so many people across the world. As with my sporting career, I don’t do things by halves, so we decided to go all in.

How did you take this from idea to reality?
Sam and I have been good friends for years, and both dive in head first, so that’s what we did with Accessercise. We started with the firm foundation that everything was to be specifically for people with impairments, so everything we did we came back to that and asked ‘could this be more accessible?’.

We then put together an amazing focus group of incredibly driven individuals who shared our vision to change the world. They have been incredible with many suggestions, reviewing different versions of the app and shaping Accessercise to make it what it is now.

There have been ups and downs as with everything new, and we’re sure there will be many highs and lows as we move forward in this journey, but what matters most to us is that we help as many people as we can, and change the world for the better.

How did you first get into powerlifting?
A friend took me to a local gym, which reminded me of something out of a Rocky film. There I started lifting some weights and I got spotted by someone from British Weightlifting who encouraged me to try out and join the team. The rest is history! Having someone believe in me and the ability to access a fitness facility, changed my life. I really hope Accessercise changes the lives of millions.

What can health clubs do to become more accessible?
I think it’s a mixture of physical changes and educational developments. Just because a person with an impairment can get into a building doesn’t make it accessible. The equipment needs to be usable for a range of impairments and the staff need to have the knowledge and training to help and support without patronising or making assumptions. The trainers need the knowledge – which is now contained within Accessercise – to support people while exercising and working out. Small changes and investments can make customers for life.

If clubs want to discuss access for members and/or facility changes then they should get in touch; let’s work together to help everyone.

What are your goals?
We’ll continually look to develop the app and will be adding more impairments and features and expanding across other countries to ensure we can bring support to as many people as possible.

We’ll soon be adding achievements, blogs, podcasts, nutrition information, a shop and several new impairments.

What impacts are you aiming for?
Our primary aim and hope is that Accessercise will help break down the barriers to exercise for the disabled community, whether that’s people wanting to work out at home, or those who need some more advice on exercises suitable for them.

We also want to be a driving force in the education sector through research projects and expanding knowledge of healthy living for people with impairments, as well as helping to highlight accessibility issues within the industry and at government level.

We want to support the drive for real change in what accessibility means and looks like for the disabled community.

How can health club operators get involved?
We want to work with health clubs and support them in delivering change. Let’s work together to make facilities more accessible, so everyone can benefit from verified status on Accessercise, which will help drive customers.

The more we can spread the word, the more people we can help.

Jawad’s powerlifting career inspired him to increase access to exercise for people with disabilities Credit: Photo: © British Weightlifting
Credit: Photo: Accessercise
With Accessercise, users can find workouts tailored to their needs Credit: Photo: Accessercise
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Fit Tech
2023 issue 1

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Leisure Management - Ali Jawad

Fit Tech people

Ali Jawad


Users can easily identify which facilities in the UK are accessible to the disabled community

Ali Jawad was a silver medallist in powerlifting at the 2016 Paralympics Photo: ©British weightlifting
Jawad’s powerlifting career inspired him to increase access to exercise for people with disabilities Photo: © British Weightlifting
Photo: Accessercise
With Accessercise, users can find workouts tailored to their needs Photo: Accessercise

What is Accessercise?
Accessercise is one of the first fitness apps specifically designed for the disabled community. It has a unique exercise library that can be tailored to a person’s specific needs. Users can build workouts, schedule these to their calendar and filter, based on a range of options including difficulty, location and available equipment.

There’s a social hub where we interact with our community, both individually and within groups, as well as an ‘explore’ section that has the UK’s fitness facilities mapped out. Those that are rated high enough by our users through our rating system are marked as verified gyms, allowing users to easily identify which facilities are accessible to the disabled community. We’ll soon be adding nutrition information, blogs, podcasts and much more for our users.

How did you come up with the idea?
My co-founder, former international sailor Sam Brearey, and I were discussing the pandemic and the impact on the disabled community, as well as the athletes heading off to Japan for the Olympic Games. Within those discussions we identified there was nothing even close to Accessercise in the market, and it was something that could benefit so many people across the world. As with my sporting career, I don’t do things by halves, so we decided to go all in.

How did you take this from idea to reality?
Sam and I have been good friends for years, and both dive in head first, so that’s what we did with Accessercise. We started with the firm foundation that everything was to be specifically for people with impairments, so everything we did we came back to that and asked ‘could this be more accessible?’.

We then put together an amazing focus group of incredibly driven individuals who shared our vision to change the world. They have been incredible with many suggestions, reviewing different versions of the app and shaping Accessercise to make it what it is now.

There have been ups and downs as with everything new, and we’re sure there will be many highs and lows as we move forward in this journey, but what matters most to us is that we help as many people as we can, and change the world for the better.

How did you first get into powerlifting?
A friend took me to a local gym, which reminded me of something out of a Rocky film. There I started lifting some weights and I got spotted by someone from British Weightlifting who encouraged me to try out and join the team. The rest is history! Having someone believe in me and the ability to access a fitness facility, changed my life. I really hope Accessercise changes the lives of millions.

What can health clubs do to become more accessible?
I think it’s a mixture of physical changes and educational developments. Just because a person with an impairment can get into a building doesn’t make it accessible. The equipment needs to be usable for a range of impairments and the staff need to have the knowledge and training to help and support without patronising or making assumptions. The trainers need the knowledge – which is now contained within Accessercise – to support people while exercising and working out. Small changes and investments can make customers for life.

If clubs want to discuss access for members and/or facility changes then they should get in touch; let’s work together to help everyone.

What are your goals?
We’ll continually look to develop the app and will be adding more impairments and features and expanding across other countries to ensure we can bring support to as many people as possible.

We’ll soon be adding achievements, blogs, podcasts, nutrition information, a shop and several new impairments.

What impacts are you aiming for?
Our primary aim and hope is that Accessercise will help break down the barriers to exercise for the disabled community, whether that’s people wanting to work out at home, or those who need some more advice on exercises suitable for them.

We also want to be a driving force in the education sector through research projects and expanding knowledge of healthy living for people with impairments, as well as helping to highlight accessibility issues within the industry and at government level.

We want to support the drive for real change in what accessibility means and looks like for the disabled community.

How can health club operators get involved?
We want to work with health clubs and support them in delivering change. Let’s work together to make facilities more accessible, so everyone can benefit from verified status on Accessercise, which will help drive customers.

The more we can spread the word, the more people we can help.


Originally published in Fit Tech 2023 issue 1

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