“Everyone has a gift. A light within them that needs to be activated. Everyone should be able to enjoy their life, be positive and look to the future.”

Ryan moved into one of our supported houses in Southwest London, two years ago, after suffering a health emergency in 2021.

“I was working as a security guard, and I got unwell. Really sick, the doctors thought I had COVID. I had a fever, was short of breath and couldn’t walk. I felt like I was dying. Then I had a seizure and went into a coma for six weeks. While I was in the hospital, they tested me for COVID about a hundred times, and it was always negative. When I woke from the coma, they told me that I have some kind of suspected virus. And three years later, they still don’t know what is wrong with me.

I had no health issues before, but this suspected virus has affected my muscles and my brain a little bit, it gives me brain fog and messes with my muscles to the point where I get pain and it’s hard for my muscles to grow.”

When Ryan told his doctors that he wanted to become a personal trainer they told him that with his health condition this wouldn’t be possible, and he should find something else to do.

“Whenever people tell me that I can’t do something that I want to do, I get stubborn about things I’m passionate about.

I remember being discharged from hospital. I was sitting in a wheelchair looking out of the window, thinking life is over. Then something clicked in my mind – I can’t give up. So I just started standing up. My legs were shaking, and I sat back down. This went on for weeks, months. All in all it took about a year for me to walk to the park around the corner.”

After focussing on his recovery, Ryan went on to complete his level two and three personal training qualifications. He has recently started working part-time at Virgin Active, to get experience giving one-to-one training.

“I want to train people who have chronic health conditions because I have that myself. I know what it’s like to go through. Some people believe that people with disabilities are worth less than them. I want to help people get stronger. I don’t want people to give up on themselves.

My support worker at Evolve helped me get on to a level three GP referral and exercise qualification. This will give me knowledge about different chronic illnesses and will allow me to train people with these conditions.”

Ryan recently participated in a six-week entrepreneurship business programme that we ran in partnership with Find your Feet Careers. The programme aimed to equip participants with essential entrepreneurial skills and knowledge through sessions on career inspiration, mindset training, sales and marketing, financial management, business planning, and pitching. Each session was led by a leading industry expert.

“I liked the experience because I had to prepare a business plan and pitch it. It helped me a lot as it brought me out of my comfort zone. I don’t like standing in front of too many people, with a camera on me. But it helped me to grow and evolve and that’s what I want to do, that’s what I’ve been striving for.

I’m not really a talkative person. I’m very much introverted. Regardless, I said to myself, I’m not going to let being an introvert define who I am as a person. I need to get myself out there and talk to people.”

In the future Ryan wants to have his own studio gym that caters for people with chronic health conditions and disabilities.

“I’d like to have a big gym. Especially for people that have chronic health conditions. I want different kinds of people with disabilities to have a community where they can all come together and be accepted for who they are. Additionally, I can tell them what I went through. So they can understand and be inspired to keep going. That’s what I want to do.”

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