You may recognise Kris Saunders-Stowe from his home workout series but the story of the man behind the videos is just as inspiring.
Exercise can be life-changing for so many people but that’s one word that rings true in Kris' case.
Kris was an extremely active person but after developing an illness and mental health issues, he struggled to get back into exercise.
Kris learned to live with his impairment and after five to six years, was referred by his GP to do some exercise to help him lift his mood and combat his depression.
After finding a contact at a local leisure centre, Kris set out on a journey of discovery and exploring exercise.
And that journey has culminated in the popularity of his home workout series, which has now become even more relevant in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and current lockdown period.“I agreed to go but it was something that was quite difficult for me in terms of going out because I had panic attacks,” Kris explained.
“I managed to find someone who understood how difficult it was for me to just randomly go somewhere I’d never been before and speak to someone but I made a point of contact.
“She put a basic exercise programme together for me and at that point all I could manage was 10-15 minutes once a week.
“Slowly, over time I was up to about 20-25 minutes but I had to split the sessions because I had chronic fatigue syndrome.
“But at that point I was already going twice a week and it had helped with my mood and my appetite. I didn’t notice it straight away but looking back I thought ‘how did I get here’ and realised I’d improved.
“It helped maintain my mental health and my physical health in the sense of maintaining my body, instead of continuing to deteriorate from being less active.
“My legs got worse over time and I ended up doing less exercise but what I was doing with my upper body has helped my ability as a wheelchair user – which I wasn’t at that point.
“Exercise has not only helped me with my mental health but also my physical wellbeing and my ability to adapt, move and function in a different way as a wheelchair user.”
Adapting exercise so that everyone can take part is vital, especially as it maintains physical and mental wellbeing and for Kris this is key.
Kris took up wheelchair basketball and began to look into the fitness industry with thoughts on being a gym instructor.
He wanted to explore aerobics but found that there were a lot of misconceptions around disability and exercise, so set about changing that.
“I had a look around online to see what was out there but the things I found to do with disability were quite patronising, very slow and gentle,” Kris added.
“I realised there was the need for simple, adaptive exercises for people of all abilities and ages.
“Exercise and fitness do have a little bit of a bad image or taboo because people either think straight about the fantastic physique or becoming a Paralympian.
“People tend to not see the fact it’s enabling you to look after your body, maintain and improve your health, your independence and overall wellbeing.
“We’re not all wanting to be competitive athletes but our bodies need looking after and seeing that change in people is fantastic.”