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Wheelchair work-out equipment tested at UCS Active Living Lab

Scott Smith and Paul Cooksey brought their Invictus Active Trainer into the Active Living Lab at UCS last Friday. Professor of Applied Exercise Science John Buckley, along with undergraduate and post-grad students, had the opportunity to try the state-of-the-art wheelchair exercise unit as it was tested using the lab’s specialist equipment – and they found the device gave them a thorough work-out!

Scott, Paul and the UCS team added weights to see if this made a difference to the amount of energy burned by the user. BA Health and Sports Science student Christian Heenan said, “We’re studying the trainer for our dissertation, and we’re really excited about working on a machine that has such great potential in terms of making sport and exercise more inclusive.”

Paul developed the trainer after a spinal cord injury sustained during a road accident – “I’d put on six stone, and cutting calories didn’t seem to make any difference,” he recalled. “I met Scott playing wheelchair tennis and he was interested in seeing the trainer I’d created to get fit – at that stage, it was made of wood and rollers from a factory conveyor belt!”

Scott added, “I’m from a marketing background, and I could see immediately there’d be a market for the trainer. I’d been using my skills promoting other products, and I was really keen to use those skills to make the trainer available to more people.”

Today, the Invictus Active Trainer is made from lightweight aluminium and rollers used in professional cycling, and it's designed so a sole user can easily set it up. It’s used for rehabilitation in hospitals such as Oswestry Orthopaedic, and it can also be used in health clubs. Extras include a heart rate monitor, a stand for an Android or Apple device, and a speed and distance sensor.

“You can use the trainer as part of a spin class,” explained Paul. “Wheelchair users can join in with their able-bodied friends and family rather than having to go to a ‘special’ area to exercise.”

You can read more about the trainer and how Paul and Scott came to create it on their website, invictusactive.com, and you can watch a video about their visit at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiRZkz6qKjQ&feature=youtu.be.