From Racing to Reps: A Wheelie's Journey through Sport

From Racing to Reps: A Wheelie's Journey through Sport

Insight from life between the lines; Adam Sheppard details his journey from professional sports to finding his calling through personal training. 

Growing up on the sunny Gold Coast as a kid with a disability definitely had its perks. 

As far back as I can remember, after school and weekends were filled with swimming with friends in someone’s pool or the local waterway, paddling on old longboards that had been passed down from family, or a BBQ at the beach. 

I guess you could say these active early years gave me a very early start in sport. 

I was born with my disability, Spina Bifida, and have been a wheelchair user my entire life, or at least from the age of three when I got my first wheelchair (before that, I had a piece of plywood with four caster wheels as my transport).

I competed in a lot of different sports when I was young. At one point, I swam competitively, played wheelchair basketball and then, of course, there was the sport I eventually settled with. The sport in which I was lucky enough to travel the country and also internationally… 

Wheelchair Track and Road Racing.

Early in 2002, I decided that I’d had enough of living and breathing competitive sport. I had friends that were going out on Friday and Saturday nights, partying and pursuing the attention of the fairer sex. Like most people of that age, I wanted that lifestyle, but instead, I was in bed by 9pm every night, ready for training at 5:30am the next day!

I never really lost my interest in health and fitness following retirement, so after a few years of working and enjoying life as a 20-something-year-old guy with relatively few responsibilities, I decided to start studying again and became a Personal Trainer. 

Fitness for anyone is essential, but it is vital for someone with a disability, particularly a wheelchair user. Things like stretching daily, keeping your shoulder joints healthy (particularly the rotator cuff) are key to living an active and healthy life as a wheelie. 

As a PT, I knew I’d probably be pigeonholed into someone who could and would only train people with disabilities, but I didn’t want that. I actually wanted to be known as THE guy that could put you through the best leg workout you’ve ever had, despite not being able to feel or use my own. 

All Pictures: Adam Sheppard (@the_real_adamsheppard)

These days, I am a Husband, Dad, Business Partner, and Wheelchair Racing coach to some fantastic up and coming racers. My business, InvincAble, alongside my business partner Tash, provides accessibility consulting, inclusion and diversity workshops, motivational speaking and team building workshops.

And the best part? The fact that I get to use my background in sport and lived experience to make an impact through InvincAble!“

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