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Holly Clyne

“I’ve not always had my disability, in fact, growing up I was extremely sporty. I did karate lessons, signed up for every event at sports day, ran charity runs and eventually even got into my county Badminton team! That was an amazing achievement for me as despite my love of sport, I never really had much aptitude for it – especially running – but hey, it’s the taking part that counts right?

As I got older I tried all sorts of exercise classes, gym workouts and developed a love for mountaineering. Indoor climbing is by far what I miss the most these days. I was diagnosed with a mild case of M.E. in my third year of university, and to be honest, I kind of ignored it. Boy did I live to regret that. You can’t beat M.E. you see, thanks to the main symptom of Post Exertional Malaise (PEM) – which basically means the more I exert myself, the more ill I am. So as I continued to work hard and exercise hard, ignoring the signals my body was sending me, and using painkillers and drugs to mask my body’s cries to stop, I just became increasingly ill.

I unfortunately now have a moderate case of M.E. which heavily restricts what I can do. Even small activities can trigger PEM. I have a perching stool in the kitchen for washing up, but I still have to spend a few hours resting afterwards as my entire upper-body will feel like I’ve been lifting weights. I recently purchased a coverless duvet because changing bed sheets left me feeling worse than that time I did a half marathon years ago. I even cut most of my hair off because of the exertion of washing and styling it. Theoretically I could still go climb a wall, but I would ‘crash’ afterwards, becoming extremely ill and bedridden for days or weeks. So traditional exercise is kind of off the table…

With M.E. you can only really talk about activity rather than exercise, because things like washing up may now be a major workout for you. However, M.E. varies a LOT in severity, so you’ll sometimes see individuals with the mildest cases still doing low impact workouts, but the most severe of us are permanently confined to bed. It’s kind of like putting pins & needles and paralysis on the same scale.

I still struggle with doing any kind of activity for activities sake, most of my limited energy is used up on day-to-day living activities. But I’m trying to get into the habit of doing something, even if it’s once or twice a week, sometimes not even that. I like to do 5 minute ‘yoga’, though it’s basically 90% child’s pose. Essentially I get a yoga mat out and do some stretches. I think this helps, as I spend so much time sat still, inactive, that I think my body just starts cramping up, but I can’t really say for sure. I do know that mentally it makes a difference, it makes me feel like I haven’t given up, like there’s still something I can do, it reminds me that I’m not being lazy, that I want to do more, it’s just not good for me.

If anyone else with M.E. reads this, I can’t give you much advice because of how varied our symptoms are. Just make sure to listen to your body. Don’t push it. I know society teaches us that we should push harder, that we shouldn’t take a day off unless we’re really ill, the whole ‘no pain no gain’ but sometimes that backfires. Sometimes your body just can’t take it and if you don’t listen you’ll only make things worse. Had I stopped and listened, maybe I would still be able to work part-time at least, do some of those low impact workouts, be able to make it up a single flight of stairs without stopping to rest.

So that’s my story. Listen to your body, work with it, not against it, do what you as an individual can, and forget what others can do. For most people, exercise is worthwhile and good for your health, but that doesn’t mean you have to go all out. Just getting a walk into your day is good enough for some. We’re all made differently.”

Female Humans of HIIT Mental Health Physical Impairment

Shweta Minz


“I have always been fit and healthy but things turned sideways when I was diagnosed with “invisible disease” which people know as “hypothyroidism”. My weight started piling off and had very less energy for anything. Later, my sedentary lifestyle made it even worse and I started feeling like a prisoner in my own body.

Then one day I thought that enough is enough because once again I wanted to feel healthy and fit. So, I made a promise to myself that no matter what, I will be consistent in my journey and will never miss a workout and I kept my promise. Since then I started eating right and working out every single day. Those small changes made a huge impact on my life and as a result now my thyroids are normal, I am very active and healthy; and I have lost 33 pounds. 

I am still far away from my goals but also very proud and happy for the little achievements which I have achieved during the course. I have much more stamina and much more energy now.

It’s true when people say that, “to help others first you have to help yourself and It’s not a destination but indeed a journey”, so I am enjoying my journey. This has become my lifestyle now and I can’t miss it for a world because health (physical and mental) is everything and most importantly it is helping me to rediscover my relationship with my mind and my body.”

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Claire Jones


“I have always enjoyed sport although I wasn’t the best at typical school sports like netball and hockey. I gave them a go but was never good enough to make the teams. I always wanted to do the typical boys sports.. football, cricket. I’ve always loved running and cross country and did that through my teens.

At uni I met a couple of girls who played football. I joined the women’s football team and loved it. After uni I carried on playing football and got my coaching badges. I kept running and going to the gym to keep fit.

After I had my daughter I gave up coaching as it took up too much time with a young family. I still tried to keep fit by running and going to the gym. I then started to suffer with a bowel condition..

In 2012 I was rushed to hospital and diagnosed with chronic ulcerative colitis. My only form of treatment was to have my bowel removed. I was given a permanent ileostomy which saved my life. As I recovered I wanted to get fit again.. I set myself targets.. events or distances I wanted to achieve, whether it was a distance or a strength goal. I’m now fitter and stronger then ever. My ileostomy has given me life.. I am determined to live every minute. I go to the gym, have run 2 half marathons, regularly run 5 and 10ks, I have done a duathlon and I cycle.

Keeping fit and active is a privilege, it helps me feel better and allows me to spend time with my daughter when we are out running or cycling together!”

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Claire Smith


“I hated sport at school. It was a mixture of being forced to do it & undiagnosed arthritis, asthma & Crohns Disease. After having my first child I slowly started to become more active & found it had a physical benefit to my medical conditions. I was reaping the rewards of physical activity & began to enjoy it.

16 years on, I’ve taken part in many obstacle races & raised money for charity. I’ve gained qualifications & used them to help others improve their health too. I’ve had 10 surgeries & waiting for more. I am also a full time carer for my daughter, so I understand it’s not always easy or possible. Sometimes walking round the kitchen multiple times whilst I wait for the kettle to boil has to do. It’s a great stress reliever too.”

Female Humans of HIIT Physical Impairment Sport University

Katie Baker

From the ages of 6-16, I did gymnastics recreationally and loved it so knew when I went to Uni I wanted to carry on with the sport. Unfortunately the University I went to didn’t offer gymnastics so I did trampolining and things went from strength to strength. From training to competitions to being President of the club, winning Club Of The Year and individually winning Sports Personality Of The Year, I have made unforgettable memories and friends for life.

Sport isn’t easy for me however, I was born with a rare congenital heart defect called Scimitar Syndrome which means the cardiac anatomy is tangled up and only 1 of my lungs work. This causes breathlessness, fatigue and other cardiac complications and due to this condition I also have kyphosis which is an inwards curve of the spine, this again makes it hard for me to trampoline. However since being at Uni, I made it my mission to not let the condition define me, I have spoken in front of hundreds of medical professionals, become an ambassador for a chronic illness charity and shared my story to help others.

Female Humans of HIIT Mental Health Physical Impairment Workouts Classes

Alexandra Aguinaga

“The journey has been a roller-coaster full of ups and downs. Specially when you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism, gaining weight is something so easy that you have to control your body no matter what. It also hit me that I don’t want to be a person someone needs to take care of, since after putting so much weight it put a toll on my knee and Achilles tendons.

Like many people, I too have past traumas that creep up once in a while, but exercising keeps my mind and body in check. Especially during the lockdown, it has become one of my routines to at least set aside 1 hour to sweat off the frustrations. This is my body and I want to take care of it, I know it may be hard getting that first Burpee or push up done, but once you notice you can do it, and later on do it easily, at the end it is a personal satisfaction and challenging yourself to finish the routine.

Take the time to make it about yourself and your well-being, at the end it’s just you, your body, and mind.”

Female Gym Training Humans of HIIT Physical Impairment

Liv Grosvenor

“When I was 3 I was diagnosed with a brain tumour and a neurological condition called hydrocephalus. Growing up this impacted my mobility.I spent a lot of time in hospital, had tonnes of brain surgery and put on a lot of weight.

But when I was 14 (against the odds) I got into fitness. I’m 26 now, and cardio and resistance training is a massive part of my life. For a long time my body stopped me from doing a lot of things but training gives me that control back, both physically and mentally.”

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Michael Kiddell

“I’m a mature student that has thrown himself into university life. I am a student night manager, university sports exec vice chair and President of the American Football club. I have also just been voted in as Development Officer for the University of Portsmouth Students Union, plus I have a family and two amazing children.

Sport has been a journey for me, I played rugby and football from a young age, I played multiple levels of rugby but due to injury and finding out I had a rare ligament disease stopped me playing. This where I lost track, lost a lot of friends and went off the rails. There were a lot of dark days and I gained a lot of weight. Almost 3 years in plaster cast on both legs will do that to you.

I tried as much sport as I could to try and re-find the love and passion I had. Then I found American football. It’s a family that has opened their arms and have welcomed me in on so many levels. I still have some of those dark days but I have become very close to some of my teammates. I have told them things I would’ve never felt comfortable saying to anyone, even family. I know I can finally talk about some of the issues going on. I have people that will never know how much they have helped me and are helping me every single day.

I’m taking this year to focus on my Development role, get my aches and pains sorted and lose more weight.”

Female Humans of HIIT Mental Health Physical Impairment

Poppy May

“I was an active person doing photoshoots almost everyday. Travelling to different locations and getting on the floor for angles of shots.

In April 2018 i woke up with back pain and then by the end of the week I couldn’t stand or move my legs. It was terrifying . A few months later I was diagnosed with a neurological disorder where my brain doesn’t communicate with my body. I have been unable to feel or move my legs since April 2018. I have a weak upper body some days and I also experience non epileptic seizures that can last hours! 

Since becoming a wheelchair user I have lost loads of my self confidence and comfort ate every day . A few months ago my mental health was at the worst and I was almost sectioned . I turned to exercise to make me feel good. Starting out from 1 sit up to 20 sit ups whilst holding a 6 kilo kettlebell. You could say exercise saved my life.”


Thank you from the Humans of HIIT community for sharing your story!

Humans of HIIT Male Physical Impairment Sport

Brian Hensman

“As a kid I was very sporty, mainly football, gymnastics and cricket. I never made the school footy team as our weekly football was a coach ride away and the smell of diesel made me sick, hence never at my best. However in an after school club, where we played 5 aside,my team ( I was the goal keeper), won the North London Comp. medals were presented by the lady Mayoress. Our 4 outfield players were all playing for the London School Boys team, they played at Highbury & Whitehart Lane, I was very jealous.

My only thing of note at Cricket, was in the nets one day( at Middlesex county cricket school), when Eric Russell( once an England opener) bowled to me, asking me to play a forward drive on the on side. I hooked him through the covers, he protested that I had played the wrong shot, I said “ if you had bowled it correctly I would have played the shot you requested of me, to which he called me a cheeky ginger headed little “B”.

We didn’t do loads of gymnastics, but always performed a display for parents at the end of year. One routine in particular stands out, a forward dive over a full box with forward roll as you hit the mat. I always had to go last ,as I had so much natural spring they had to remove the springboard otherwise I might have shot the landing mat. This natural spring was put to good use in the school house games at the end of my last year. I won the high jump,100 m hurdles and our 4×100 m relay team won, a great performance all round.

Now at Work. I played a little tennis, but football was my love. At 16 I started playing in a MANs team, eventually playing goalkeeper in the first team, where we won either the cup or league every season. In a cup semi we got hammered, but won 2-1. The news report in the Islington gazette must have mentioned my performance 15 or more times, what a game, just great!

The team used to let me play in the forward line in friendly games, in one I scored 5 goals, they never let me out again. I eventually left to become an out player.

Getting older now, married with 2 children, living in Hertfordshire, played W/E footy for local teams, now an outfield player. I also played for the PO Towers Saturday team, a good standard. By that time I was what you would now call a no. 10. Very fit, all over the pitch and scoring goals. I managed to get into the works Area team. Being paid to travel round playing footy, great! Unfortunately I had only one game. In 1967, I had a scooter and on the way home from work got taken out by a head on collision with a car. Not my fault, but resulted in 11 weeks in hospital with a fractured leg requiring traction. It was 6 months before I could go back to work, with my leg now just over 1” shorter. Luckily, my local physio dept. was run by a gent who also ran a W/E football team. He invited a number of his patients back to the physio weekly in the evening to play football in the hall, followed by a dip in the hydrotherapy pool.

Eventually, at about 35 I had to give up football. I had a back injury caused by me taking the long throws. I tried many cures to resolve the problem, the hospital for physical medicine at Goodge St. osteopaths etc Crystal Palace’s football club doctor, ugh ! he was an animal !! Eventually I went to a spiritualist church that did “ hands on healing “ . 1 visit- never had the problem since.

Married with kids, not much sport after football, it’s a bit of a void in my memory. I did start playing table tennis, inter club matches and really enjoyed it. Bognor didn’t seem to have any T/T clubs, so it’s only on cruises that I play now, I can still hold my own!

In my mid 40s I started to playing badminton, enjoyed it a lot. Found a club when we moved to Bognor, but again had to give it a miss as my knee kept collapsing, many years later had to have keyhole surgery, not a total success but an improvement.

I’ve omitted to mention golf, whilst still at New Malden and having just met Paula in 1996, she brought me some golf lessons for Christmas in 1997. Afterwards I went to the 2 tier driving range, met a group of retired people and started playing regularly at Richmond Park. When we moved south I joined Chichester golf course it seemed really good value compared to Bognor & Littlehampton golf courses, low joining fee,2 x 18 hole courses, a 9 hole par 3 and a driving range. I’m still there, once or twice a week, now only spring to autumn and only if the weathers good! Got my handicap down to 11, which on Chichester’s Cathedral course, I was well pleased with. 

Getting older now, 75 in July, still playing but off of 16.In the winter, it’s now snooker and indoors bowls, I’ve always enjoyed a social game of summer green bowls, so decided when I dropped winter golf I joined the local indoors bowls club playing both roll ups and league games.

I should add that although my life seems to be totally sport oriented, lm a keen gardener, do all my own decorating and up til recently walked our 3 dogs. Oh, and do everything that my lovely wife requires of me!


Thank you from the Humans of HIIT community for sharing your story!