Our story began in September 2014 when our founder, Drew Graham, broke his neck in Denver Colorado, in a shallow diving accident. Drew suffered a C4/C5 spinal cord injury and was sent to Craig Hospital rehabilitation centre.
While in Craig hospital, and following his discharge and utilising other available rehabilitation/specialist gym services in Denver, Drew saw how rehab should be done.
After a year of rehabilitation in America Drew returned to England in December 2015. Drew was keen to continue rehabilitation and just generally exercise to stay fit, but found that there was nothing available in the UK similar to what he had experienced in the US. This caused him to suffer from depression as well as a noticeable decrease in his physical health, such as increased muscle spasticity and nerve pain.
After several months of this Drew decided that he had to do something about the lack of accessible gym facilities in the North, because, if he was suffering like this, others probably were too.
Immediately, Drew, his family and friends began fundraising. In 2016 “Pop-up Gym“ was set up as an official charity. The aim was to create a travelling gym service with specialist equipment that would service users all around the north of England.
This changed into a more traditional gym model when a perfectly sized space was found in Felling, Gateshead. After several months of refurbishing the space to make it accessible, Pop-Up Gym opened its doors in January 2018.
This first premises allowed ambition to grow, and with bigger ambition came the need for larger premises. A new space was found in Team Valley, into which the gym moved in August 2019, now sharing the Neuro Hub with Neural Pathways. This much larger space allows for more potential and increases what can be offered to the gym members.
March 2019 saw Pop-Up Gym's first actual “pop up“ sessions in Billingham, County Durham with help from Tees Neuro Physiotherapy who supply the space. These sessions have been very successful and are planned to continue in the future.
Despite the success of these pop-up sessions, in 2019 a name change and re-brand was decided upon. Changing from Pop-Up Gym to Gym Possible. It was felt that the new name better informs people about the type of services provided, since the pop-up sessions are only a small part of this charity's aim.
Like many other gyms in the UK, Gym Possible was greatly affected by the 2020 pandemic. We were forced to close our doors for over a year and eventually lost our premises. But, from this challenge came new opportunities. During the pandemic we started to produce our own adapted fitness videos, with a collection of the best wheelchair based fitness instructors in the country and massively increased our online following. Now we have some of the highest quality accessible fitness videos and live sessions on the Internet and are delighted to reach people from all around the globe on a daily basis.
In July 2021 we were able to open the third iteration of Gym Possible at Tumble Gymnastics in Longbenton, Newcastle upon Tyne. At this brilliant new location, we are able to get back to our roots of working with people with spinal cord injuries face-to-face.
The future will see Gym Possible continuing to help physically disabled people exercise in a welcoming, fun environment that specifically caters to their needs. To accomplish this, continued financial support from grants and fundraising are absolutely essentially.