How my Life has been Transformed by the FlexxiCore Challenger
by Alison Lapper MBE
Ali Lapper graduated with a first-class honours degree in fine art from Brighton University. In 2003 she received an MBE for services to art. Mark Quinn's famous sculpture of her was set on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in 2004. In 2005 she received the World Achievement Award presented by Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev, and several other awards since*.
The following is excerpted from a longer article written by Ali and to be published in Positive Health magazine in July 2017.
My Discovery and Use of the FlexxiCore Challenger
As soon as I saw the FlexxiCore Challenger I realized that I needed it to exercise in order to revitalize my body. I acquired it just before Christmas, 2015.
At first I could only use it at the slowest speed for a very short time and required someone to support me as I could not balance. Within two weeks I was up to speed 3 and could balance on it alone but only for 2 to 4 minutes as I had no strength to stand for any longer. Soon I was up to speed 4 and standing alone for 5 to 10 minutes. Within two months I was able to use the machine on Automatic (variable speed vibration and oscillation) by myself for 10 minutes at a time, sometimes twice a day. This pattern continues. I generally feel so much better. I am definitely using muscles in my legs and lower back that I had forgotten about.
My regular masseuse says that my muscles are easier to soften, that she can work more deeply into them and that she can give me a much more satisfactory massage. I am much more supple than I used to be. It is now easier for me to get into and out of chairs, my bed and my driving seat. It is more comfortable to drive and I feel as if I am sitting higher in the driving seat. I have more stamina to do what needs to be done, e.g. travel to Manchester by train for radio or television appearances. I recently drove to Colchester from Shoreham in 2½ hours and arrived feeling fresh for a day’s filming. I am finding it much easier to cope with day-to-day living.
My Current Health and Future Plans
For the first time in my life the muscles in my abdomen feel firm. I believe that there has been an improvement in my cardiovascular state although it is difficult to tell precisely because it is not possible to use a blood pressure monitor on my body. My level of energy and ability to engage in work is significantly improved. Together with photographer Rankin, I co-presented a BBC4 documentary called, No Body’s Perfect. This required a great amount of stamina on my part and, since being able to exercise regularly on the Challenger, I found that I had greater reserves of energy.
Recently I completed my first solo documentary on the artist and poet William Blake, a man who knew adversity in his life. He was an independent and bloody minded visionary, who would have been better suited to the twenty-first rather than the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He was possessed of great wisdom as well as wonderful artistic, poetic and lithographic talent. To prepare this film I had to make two journeys to Paris involving early morning departures from Kings Cross and Ashford in Kent, take part in a full day’s filming and make a same day return home. This was such a gruelling schedule that I could never have completed it had I not been able to exercise on my FlexxiCore Challenger. For the immediate future I am very keen to do more work on documentaries of all kinds, not necessarily to do with disability or even art. I also work with children with different abilities, either learning or physical, teaching them to paint with their mouths or their feet, in addition to children in academies, senior and junior schools.
My intention is to continue to use the FlexxiCore Challenger twice a day, if work permits. Without it, I know my health would definitely deteriorate at a faster rate. My ability to transfer from sitting to standing, to move to my vehicle, to climb in and out of the driving seat and complete long journeys would not be possible without this regular exercise. I have no hesitation in recommending the Flexxicore Challenger to everybody of all ages and abilities, particularly to those who have difficulty exercising.
* Ali received the Outsiders Award in 2006 for her artwork around sexuality and disability; The Life Award in 2007 from Germany for success in the face of adversity; and the World Artists Award for art specializing in the body beautiful, no matter what, in 2014. She has also been awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Brighton for her contribution to the arts and being an ambassador for those with disabilities. She is a full member of the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists of the World (MFPA) who produce original artwork for Christmas and other greeting cards.