Popular apprentice Zach Chapman refuses to let disability stand in the way of his ambition to become a qualified personal trainer.
Zach, 20, from Connah’s Quay, is diagnosed with ataxic cerebral palsy which affects his co-ordination, balance and speech. He left school at 16 not knowing what career path to follow and anxious about future job opportunities.
But his passion for fitness secured him a job at Lifestyle Fitness, who run the gym at Coleg Cambria Deeside, and he hopes to complete his Apprenticeship in Personal Training in April, supported by learning provider Babcock Training.
Zach has spent most of the last year on furlough due to the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, which has given him the time to focus on completing his theory and written work, something he excels at, for his apprenticeship.
During lockdown, he has also enrolled on an online HFE Level 3 Exercise for Disabled Clients course which will give him a qualification to train disabled people.
As part of his apprenticeship, Zach has provided online fitness classes to two clients, completed all set work on time and attended online training sessions. Babcock has provided one-to-one learning support remotely via Microsoft Teams to ensure the lockdown has not hampered his progression.
Due to his disability, Zach was initially apprehensive about talking to clients, but the apprenticeship has transformed his confidence, knowledge and skills.
“I am very grateful to Lifestyle Fitness for giving me the opportunity to work and do the apprenticeship, something I never thought I would have,” said Zach. “I was a bit sceptical at the start about what I could achieve but I have surprised myself.
“When I left school at 16, I didn’t have a job or an apprenticeship and I didn’t start work until I was 19. I think there should be more job opportunities for young people, especially those with disabilities.
“I am very lucky that I have a good support network around me with my family, friends, workmates and trainer.”
Zach advises other disabled young people to seriously consider an apprenticeship. “What have you got to lose?” he asked. “I have combined my passion for fitness with a job – you have to find a balance between doing something you enjoy and making a living.
“I still have a long way to go to achieve my ultimate goal, but the apprenticeship has been very beneficial in helping me get to where I want to be in my career.”
Lifestyle Fitness manager Craig Wright said the apprenticeship has transformed Zach by increasing his knowledge, confidence and communication skills.
“Zach doesn’t see fault in others, is always keen to help and is loved by all the staff and clients,” he added. “He’s the person that gives you the good experience and has come on leaps and bounds since starting his apprenticeship.
“When Zach is fully qualified, it will allow us to have an extra personal trainer on the gym floor which will be an advantage to our business, allowing clients to book one to one sessions with him.”
Babcock Training’s regional trainer for North Wales, Hannah Jones said: “Zach is a great learner who has done really well to progress his apprenticeship during the lockdown.
“He is keen and eager to learn and has adapted so well to remote learning that we are now at the point of waiting for the gym to reopen to complete his observations to finish his apprenticeship.”
Humie Webbe, Apprenticeships Strategic Equality and Diversity Lead at the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), congratulated Zach on his successful learning journey.
“Our vision is to create a learning environment where everyone has the chance to go as far as their talent and hard work will allow, regardless of background.,” said Humie. “We want to ensure that apprenticeships are perceived to be for all and that barriers to participation are removed.”