This is a guest blog from Sam James, one of our fabulous ambassadors. You can meet all our ambassadors here.

Are you suitably qualified or even insured to work with disabled people? Has an instructor ever turned you away from their class or even their gym? Then I will explain why here.

Fitness and disability is a highly skilled and knowledgeable part of the industry. In addition to having the right personality to engage this population, there are also qualifications instructors need before they can work with a disabled person or group of disabled people.

Gym and Exercise to Music instructors need to have the Level 3 Exercise and Disability qualification for them to be insured to work with any disabled person. You may ask “why is this?” Well the answer is actually quite simple; there are lots of disabilities out there, physical, intellectual, sensory and ASC (autistic spectrum condition). Quite a few disabled people can have more than one, perhaps a combination of physical and intellectual disabilities, for example. If you do not know about these conditions, implications of such, and medications (even with carers present) then you are not going to be insured to work with these clients.

The main disabilities that are covered on the Level 3 course have many different factors that you need to take into account when working with disabled clients. Without going into too much detail, some conditions may affect what you do with that client due to that condition;  a weak heart and/or weaker necks may mean no over head movements. If you have no idea about this you should not be working with this special population.

During my time working with disabled clients, I have found it shocking that some carers do not know anything about that client’s disability. You cannot always rely on carers to give you all the information, especially when that client has limited speech or is completely non-vocal. I have also worked with some excellent carers/ support workers who know their clients inside out.

Some instructors do work with disabled people without realising that they are not actually qualified or even insured to. This is why most disabled people get turned away from gyms and classes, as it is due to that gym or instructor not having the qualification; they’re not being rude and turning you away because they don’t want you there, but if they are not qualified to work with you then they are not insured to work with you! Simples. It costs over £500 to do the Level 3 Exercise and Disability qualification and this is a big reason why many instructors do not have this qualification.

If you are a disabled person looking to get into exercise, having sessions with a personal trainer, going to a class or having an instructor come in to your setting, you need to find someone who has this qualification. There are now more instructors that have it, thanks to InstructAbility, and more gyms are employing disability fitness specialists to work with this population.

So, instructors; please make sure your insurance covers you if you are working with any disabled person regardless of what setting.I do know not many companies will insure you without a Level 3 qualification.

So make sure your covered. You cannot work with a cardiac client without Exercise referral and this is the same. Refer to your local disability specialist – there is more of us around than you think!

If you’re an instructor looking for insurance and have questions, you can call the EMD UK instructor support team on 01403 266000.

Guest blogs are written by our member organisations and are not necessarily representative of the views and opinions of EMD UK.