Cosmopolitan (UK)

“My place of joy became my nightmare”



Sophie Butler thought she’d never exercise again, but found new reserves of inner and outer strength

On 5th July 2017, Sophie Butler’s life changed forever. She’d just got her degree results and was working out before celebratin­g. But while lifting a 70kg weight on a squat machine, she lost her footing and fell down hard, shattering her spine. She was left paralysed from the waist down and now uses a wheelchair. Going back to the gym seemed unimaginab­le in the months that followed. “It was traumatisi­ng and I thought I’d have to let fitness go. It was such a big part of my life, but now my place of joy had become my nightmare.” But, with the help of her dad, she found a new, more accessible gym, and she’s now a qualified health and fitness coach, and a Gymshark ambassador. “After becoming Disabled and living in a body I resented, it was very hard to love my body,” Sophie, 24, says. “But if I hadn’t been through that journey I wouldn’t be as confident now. Self-love isn’t all about loving your body. It’s about unlearning the prejudices Disabled bodies face. All the insecuriti­es are just a pretext from society.” Being strong is essential for Sophie: “I go to the gym four times a week. As a Disabled woman I have to be so strong to be able to do my daily activities. Even getting in and out of my car – I have to pull the chair in. It weighs 13kg! I have to be strong so I can live the life I want.”

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