Meet Kelly Gregory, a woman challenging the way we think about what we’re all capable of. On a journey of physical activity and MEP collecting, she’s achieving so much more than just the hard workouts.
Kelly started out by simply creating a platform to inspire others to move and overcome any challenge.
Today, documenting every move with her heart rate monitor, Kelly’s a certified personal trainer, a group fitness instructor, and soon to be a qualified nutritionist.
But there’s more to her story than the traditional fitness enthusiast turned fitness professional.
“At 13 years old I was diagnosed with Friedreich's ataxia. It's a degenerative neuromuscular disorder,” explains Kelly. “Progressively, I have lost strength in my legs and it also affects my arms.
“Since then I’ve dedicated pretty much my whole life to all aspects of health and fitness to attempt to slow the progression of FA.”
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Friedreich's ataxia (FA) is a rare inherited disease that causes progressive damage to the nervous system and movement problems. Nerve fibres in the spinal cord and peripheral nerves degenerate, becoming thinner.
However, while many under the anxieties of this medical advice would solely focus on self-help, Kelly has taken a much more altruistic approach to wellbeing for as many people as possible through her Instragram platform, @conqueringfa.
Physical activity against Friedreich's ataxia
“The whole reason I started Conquering FA was to help other people with the same condition,” Kelly continues. “When I was first diagnosed there wasn’t really anyone else on social media saying ‘I just did this workout,’ or ‘I tried these new vitamins,’ or ‘this is how I changed my diet.’
“I want to be that person that other people look up to, for people that have just been diagnosed, or even for people that don’t have FA. I want to be that inspiration.”
From diagnosis to becoming a personal trainer
While many would see an FA diagnosis as an obstacle, Kelly has used it to fuel not just her workouts, but her route to a new profession, even by overcoming the challenges of instructing others while teaching from a wheelchair.
“I like the fact that I can help people all across the country, but I also wanted something more on a personal level. So, I went out and did all the training to become a certified personal trainer.
“Some people might think ‘Hey, but you’re in a wheelchair. How do you do all the training?’ I have some lovely co-workers that I was able to film doing different exercises so when my clients don’t know how to do a certain exercise, I can show them the video.”
Finding the motivation to manage any medical condition
Before she started to motivate others living with Friedreich's ataxia, Kelly kickstarted her own journey using the digital tools that best supported her wellbeing, health and lifestyle needs.
“Why Myzone? I love Myzone! First of all I love that it tracks my heart rate, which is great for me to know because I also have cardiomyopathy [described by the Mayo Clinic as a condition that makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body] so it’s great knowing not to get my heart rate to high or just to keep it in a certain zone.”
Other than a heart rate monitor and an unwavering passion for progress, where was the source for this inspiration to get physically active?
“I follow Sarah’s Day on YouTube. She does health and fitness content and she was using a Myzone heart rate monitor, so I went out and bought one just to be like her,” Kelly giggles. “But I truly love mine."
"I’ve been using it for about two years and I love that it levels the playing field. I’m able to see my MEPs for as long as I’m putting in my effort.”
“Myzone not only tells you your heart rate at any point, but it tells you your consistent heart rate. So, at some doctors’ offices, whereas their heart rate machines only update every 10 or 15 seconds, my Myzone tells me my heart rate every second. It makes it much easier to see if my heart rate is jumping up or down, or staying constant.”
For more information and to follow Kelly’s inspirational journey of physical activity follow her at instagram.com/conqueringfa