22-year-old Lewis Halsey was born with dyspraxia, learning difficulties and autism but his local gym is helping turn his life around and overcome life’s challenges

Being born with several disabilities has meant a challenging start to Lewis Halsey’s life. The 22-year-old endured terrible bullying at school during his teenage years which left his confidence on the floor and gave him severe anxiety.

With his dyspraxia, learning difficulties and autism meaning it was hard to initiative conversations and form friendships, he needed a confidence boost to overcome the adversity faced in his life.

Lewis’ mother, Gay Sibley, was a member at locally owned gym, Anytime Fitness Leighton Buzzard and saw it as a perfect opportunity to help Lewis conquer his anxiety and fears.

“Lewis had a very hard time at school which gave his confidence a real knock,” said Gay. “When you have a child with dyspraxia, they tell you that they’ll never ride a bike or a scooter, but we’ve never listened to that and he’s done all of it. We’ve spent years building him up to that point and didn’t want that to go to waste.”

“I’d been a member at Anytime Fitness Leighton Buzzard for a while and given how welcoming it was, thought Lewis could really benefit from it.”

Heading into a new, unfamiliar environment could understandably trigger Lewis’ anxiety, but he felt at home right away. To ease him into the gym and help understand the various pieces of equipment, he started one-to-one Personal Training sessions with personal trainer Alex Sims.

“Alex has helped so much at the gym,” said Lewis. “It makes me happy to be there and I really enjoy the results I’m seeing and how much more confident I’m feeling. My favourite pieces of equipment are the upper body machines and I want to continue getting as fit as I can.”

The first national lockdown meant Lewis’ gym routine was abruptly halted but alongside his mother, they continued their healthy habits with regular walks and outdoor exercise.

“We’re lucky that we’ve got so many nice walking routes where we live,” added Gay. “When we couldn’t go to the gym during lockdown, we were taking our two dogs on long walks and getting out in the fresh air. One day, we took a wrong turn at one of the canals and ending up adding an extra ten miles to our route!”

With the restrictions easing in the summer ahead of gyms reopening, Alex began putting on outdoor bootcamps for the local community. This resulted in an influx of new people for Lewis to meet, adding to the growing gym ‘family’ and helping to form new friendships.

“The gym has really brought Lewis out of his shell and has become his happy place,” said Gay. “It’s done wonders for his confidence and I can’t hang around with him in the gym anymore – I cramp his style! He’s always around the club talking to other members and the staff there which is amazing to see and it’s the best decision we’ve ever made.”

“I’ve become much more confident and made some great new friends,” concluded Lewis. “I find things in common with other people there like gaming which is great to talk about. I want to keep on getting fitter, losing weight and continuing to get more confident. It’s made me think about working in a gym one day too!”