IF MARTYN Lawrence can join a gym, anyone can.
The 26-year-old joined Echuca’s Snap Fitness in August last year but not for the reasons most people do.
Martyn has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair due to his lack of muscle control.
‘‘It’s not a case of me wanting to lose 5kg or looking good for my formal,’’ he said.
‘‘For me, it’s improving my flexibility so I can be more independent.
‘‘The more flexible I am, the more I will be able to do.’’
When Martyn first joined the gym, he could only touch the top of his left wheel with the tip of his fingers.
Six months on and he can touch both wheels and move his chair slightly.
‘‘That was impossible for me not so long ago,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s been slow but noticeable.’’
An amazing feat considering Martyn has undergone an astonishing 13 surgeries due to a severe case of scoliosis and now has plates in his back to keep him straight.
And although Martyn is pleased with his physical improvements, it is the mental benefits that have surprised him the most.
‘‘I didn’t expect to feel so much better in myself. That’s been an added bonus,’’ he said.
‘‘I’m not the most self-confident guy, but I’ve certainly noticed a difference to where I was before and where I am now. I still have my bad days but it’s not a constant battle.
‘‘If I knew how good it felt, I would have started ages ago.’’
Martyn now attends Snap three to four times a week, with the help of a carer, and his efforts have seen him awarded March’s member of the month.
Snap Fitness manager Thomas Bryans said when Martyn first signed up at the gym, he didn’t have anything to aim for and struggled to find that drive.
‘‘Martyn faced exactly what many of us face when we join a gym, he started comparing himself to others and started thinking he didn’t belong and looked down on himself,’’ Thomas said.
‘‘Martyn didn’t think the gym could work but to his surprise we set him up with a program that he was capable of and still get the benefits towards his goals, flexibility, strength and co-ordination.’’
However, once he stopped worrying about others and realised he was ‘‘doing better than the 80 per cent of people who aren’t in the gym’’, Martyn’s determination exploded.
‘‘Martyn could have used all the excuses in the book not to come to the gym — time, ability, motivation, transport and he is well in his rights to say ‘no’ due to his circumstances, but he took the plunge,’’ Thomas said.
Martyn hopes regular gym training will help him achieve his goal of living independently by the time he is 30.
‘‘I want to be able to do things for myself,’’ he said.
‘‘I’ve got four years to go.’’