Padiham mum thanks Burnley Leisure for personalised workouts for daughter with special needs

A Burnley mother has thanked Burnley Leisure fitness instructors for going the extra mile to help her daughter, who has a weak muscle condition and learning disabilities, stay active during the coronavirus pandemic.

Olivia Taylor and mum Justine Taylor
Olivia Taylor and mum Justine Taylor

Expressing her gratitude towards tutors for recording a special online video workout for her daughter Olivia, Justine Taylor of Field Street in Padiham thanked the Burnley Leisure employees for their efforts to help her daughter, who has had hypotonia since birth resulting in weak muscle tone throughout her body including her eye muscles, stay motivated at home.

Twenty-one-year-old Olivia, who spent her most recent birthday in March in lockdown, usually swims at Padiham Leisure Centre two or three times a week with her mother or a carer and attends Burnley College, where she is on life skills course.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Olivia doesn’t understand the seriousness of the coronavirus situation, but she really misses swimming, seeing her college friends, and visiting town," said Justine, 50. "These are just some of the restrictions impacting on her. At home, she tried to join-in the exercises that I do, but, unfortunately, her hypotonia meant that she struggled with my routines.

"So, I contacted Sarah Drinkwater, the manager at Padiham Leisure Centre, on Facebook and asked if her team would do a little routine for Olivia," added Justine. "Oh my goodness, they did not disappoint. The fitness instructor, Rebecca McDevitt, put together a special online workout for Olivia and gave her a shout-out.

"The routine is ideal for Olivia. She felt really included and we now use Bex’s video as part of Olivia’s daily routine at home. It also really helps Olivia’s mood because spending a day at home can feel like a very long time for her - and for others with special needs."

Olivia said: “Bex is a great tutor. She is very funny and makes me laugh. I really like her. She did different exercise routines with me in mind, including a combat and an aerobics routine to some great music. They are all really good routines.”

A former Ridgewood Community High School and Holly Grove Primary pupil, Olivia also enjoys the music of Dua Lipa and The Weeknd but since the lockdown was imposed, has been going on walks with her mother, who herself works as a teaching assistant at St John the Baptist School and enjoys running and her weekly body combat fitness classes at Padiham Leisure Centre.

"This simple act of kindness has made a massive difference to Olivia and to me; those guys at Burnley Leisure absolutely rock," said Justine, who is married to husband Ian with whom she also has two other sons, Luke and Lewis, aged 26 and 19. "For Olivia and many others with special needs, it is especially difficult when their usual routines are ended so gestures of friendship and bits of practical help can really make a big difference to their mood and feeling of belonging, as well as their physical health."

Despite missing a trip to Benidorm to celebrate her own 50th birthday, Justine still celebrated with a glass of Prosecco at home and said: “I applaud all the [Burnley Leisure] team. They are doing great things for lots of people, whether on the front line or behind the scenes. They all deserve a medal.”