Disability Horizons contributor Zubee talks to Jack Eyers – who is part of Models of Diversity – about disability, fitness and modelling.
Please could you tell DH readers a bit about yourself and how your career started as a personal trainer and fitness model?
I was born with Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency. This meant I had very limited movement in my right leg and I was in constant and severe pain. At 16 I took the tough decision to have elective surgery to amputate my right leg. However, this didn’t hold me back! I played rugby, football and was a successful swimmer in regional competitions. I started using the school gym aged 15. It was the first place I saw really positive changes. Here I could achieve! I decided to become a qualified Gym instructor and Personal Trainer to help other people achieve goals, be positive and confident. I currently work in the Bournemouth area training clients to achieve a range of targets, from weight loss to sport specific. I am passionate about helping clients to attain their goals by creating specialised dietary and exercise programmes, personalised for each individual. I am proud to have many success stories, which I hope to continue as I expand my business and obtain my own training studio/gym.
What or who inspired you to get into fitness and modelling?
I was fed up with wheelchair users and amputees getting the wrong media! Words like disabled, handicapped, impaired, cripple, vulnerable, victims and disadvantaged frustrated me. Even most the bad guys/villains in films have some sort of handicap, disability or disfigurement creating a negative image! This had to stop!
In my opinion, London 2012 took one of the first positive steps by advertising the Paralympians as “SuperHumans” This really inspired me to become a role model for other amputees.
I got in touch with Angel Sinclair at Models of Diversity. I started working with her campaign trying to get more “Able” models in the fashion industry and on the catwalk. Its thanks to Angel that I started with the fitness modelling.
In my day to day training, I split my work load into two programs. First, I focus on high intensity functional training using compound exercises. As I find this is the best fat burner. Second, I isolate split muscle groups to build shape and definition. My style of training targets my core stability and mobility. As an amputee these exercises are crucial to improve my mobility.
What are the things you need to consider when physically training someone who is an amputee?
I believe when you lose a limb through trauma or surgery you are reborn. Just like a child you have to learn to walk and/or catch again (depending on the amputation) As a child, it is expectable to fall over, drop things and be clumsy. This will teach a babies brain motor skills, things like balance and hand eye coordination. As a new amputee it is important to go through this process and get outside your comfort zone by trying new activities and sports.
You performed a cabaret style rope act at the 2012 Paralympic opening ceremony. Can you describe what that moment felt like?
Amazing! I auditioned to be a part of the London 2012 Paralympic opening ceremony with not much confidence I would get through to the final stage. From the many that auditioned I was chosen to perform, along with a fantastic group of other disabled people. I spent 4 months training with a renowned circus school in London and learnt to be an aerial artist. In front of an 80,000 strong crowd at the Paralympic opening ceremony, I performed an aerial rope routine 10 meters in the air, and then I performed a harness routine flying over 35 meters. I learnt so much about my body’s abilities, and the confidence I have gained will follow me throughout life. Being part of such a momentous event was truly unforgettable and something I am incredibly proud of.
Was it a skill you already had? Or did you have to learn it from scratch?
I had to learn it from scratch; I spent 4 months training with a renowned circus school in London.
What advice would you give disabled people who wish to take up modelling?
Chase the dream! Change is scary and often uncomfortable, but life begins outside your comfort zone. Learn to embrace criticism and get used to it. Believe in yourself!
I came across an article on a disabled modelling advertising Models of Diversity when browsing through a magazine at Bristol limbcentre. I got in touch and Angel Sinclair invited me to a trial photo shoot. Angel and James (the photographer) gave me a crash course on how to model, how to hold my posture, how to hold your facial expressions and how to use the lighting to paint with shadows. They were fantastic and gave me lots of confidence to start fitness modelling.
What advice do you have for disabled people who wish to be fit and healthy, but don’t know where to go or where to start?
If you are a total newbie to fitness maybe start by finding a Paralympic sport. You will meet lots of people in a very similar situation to yourself. You will be inspired and most importantly you will have a goal! Wheelchair basketball is an awesome team sport for fitness and motivation. There are a lot of clubs around to get started. There are also lot of Swimming and Athletics clubs around.
What’s your favourite food?
Nandos chicken- extra hot, spicy rice and macho peas
Have you personally trained any celebrities at all?
Not yet… But i will!
I’ve trained a retired Paralympian, but i don’t think that counts?
Do you provide personal training for people with any other disabilities or just amputees?
I’m currently working with a number of clients with different disabilities ranging from mobility issues, muscle wastage conditions and one unable to use both of his hands. We have found solutions to exercise so they are able to have an intense workout and we have made some fantastic results.
I read that you did some acting. Can you tell us how you got started?
I was 7 years old and going through a tough time at school, I was at the limb centre getting my leg fixed when my prosthetist introduced me to another amputee who had very similar issues I was going through, he had his leg amputated when he was 16 years old. He was a very inspiring guy who claimed he had just been filming Saving Private Ryan with Stephen Spielberg. He showed me pictures of him being blown up on the beach and called himself a one legged stunt man! He said I should join a disabled acting agency.
What was your first acting role?
My first job was a short disability awareness film called Talk.
If anyone would like to sign up or your services how can they get involved?
Jack’s Fitness (FaceBook)
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I spend most of my spare time in the gym or at the beach with mates, I love being outside.
What are your aspirations for the future?
My further ambitions include pursuing my fitness modelling, competing in fitness competitions, and being the face of sports/clothing brand. Ultimately I feel proud to be one of the only amputee fitness models both in the UK and internationally. I hope to inspire other amputees and disabled people to get fit and not let disability hinder their aspirations.
What are your five top tips on keeping fit and healthy?
1, Decide what goal you want to achieve, something measurable
2, Make a realistic plan but challenge yourself
3, Think about your diet, spend time thinking about what you need to change to achieve your goal
4, Stay motivated- talk to people about your goals for any ideas, buy new music or watch motivational videos on YouTube
5, Reward yourself- go on holiday to show off your hard work or buy new clothes to make you feel good
As a closing note, here are the dates when the documentary about MoD will be aired on TV: