James Connaughton, 17, is one of David Lloyd Leisure Club’s biggest fans. Having joined the Teesside club back in August 2017, James has made visiting up to three times a week part of his routine. Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, James suffers poor co-ordination, stiff and weak muscles and finds movement difficult. Since joining David Lloyd’s Teesside, James has experienced a new lease of life, being able to achieve things that he never imagined possible.
We caught up with James’ parents, and full time carers, Paul and Julie Connaughton to find out more about James’ journey and the effect it has had on his mental and physical wellbeing.
1 ) What does James enjoy doing most when he visits the David Lloyd’s Teesside club?
James’ top favourite thing to do has got to be the jacuzzi, closely followed by the steam and sauna room as they are new sensory experiences for him. He also loves the outdoor pool because he feels like he’s on holiday– although he’d happily go out there in the winter too if we let him! Most importantly though, we think it’s just walking through the door and having a look round; he absolutely loves the club and the people.
2) What exercise machine does James use the most?
Definitely the Still Mill which a self-propelled treadmill. It’s great for James because he can control the treadmill at his own pace so can go as little or as fast as he wants – great for him as he can sometimes tire easily.
3) How has being a member of a David Lloyd Club changed James’ life?
James’ communication has massively improved because he’s often communicating with other members and staff. He’s got to know so many people within the club that he never wants to leave! One of the biggest benefits is that he can come here for 2 ½ hours and feel part of one big family. The club has also enabled him to achieve things he never thought he’d be able to do and gain strength, especially in his legs.
4) Why do you think it’s important for David Lloyd Clubs to offer support to those who are less able?
We think it’s really important for David Lloyd Clubs to offer support to people of all ages, regardless of their disabilities. This is especially important amongst younger people who are keen to integrate, fit in and experience a proper childhood full of fun and laughter. You’ll find a lot of people with special needs often feel isolated, but David Lloyd Clubs have provided a great opportunity where a group of autistic children or children with profound disabilities can hang out, as well as use the clubs facilities.
5) What makes David Lloyds Club facilities stand out when compared to other Health and Fitness Clubs, especially for those who are less able?
As a parent or carer you can come in and assist a less-abled member free of charge which is crucial for us having James. Personally, we’ve never heard of any other club offering this, which makes David Lloyd Clubs so unique. Also, the Teesside club can offer specific one-to-one services to help with the gym apparatus or pool when needed, which is distinctive.
6) How vital is it for you both to be present during James’ sessions as opposed to a Personal Trainer or instructor?
We know James really well so we can ensure his needs are met which can be hard for anyone else who doesn’t know him personally. As a parent we also want to enjoy these new opportunities James is having, and experience his health journey with him. We want to say a huge thank you to David Lloyd Clubs for making James feel so welcome and allowing him to come here so regularly, it has honestly changed his life. From being told when he was just nine months that he would never be able to do anything physical, we are in utter awe of our son. It’s so wonderful to watch.