“My increase in confidence has been life changing.” Cerebral palsy can’t prevent this disabled bodybuilder from fulfilling his fitness ambition.

© @MElson_1985

Matt Elson was born with hemiplegia, a form of cerebral palsy which physically impairs the left side of his body. Clearly, this has presented various physical challenges and barriers to break down throughout his life. 

Nonetheless, slowly but surely, he built his confidence, developed a career in marketing and, in his late 20s, got married and started a family. Becoming a father of two kids triggered his desire to get fit – and he hasn’t looked back.

When he first started going to the gym five years, he had no idea disability bodybuilding was a thing.

Five-and-a-half years on, he’s an elite disability competitor, having qualified for a number of competitions, including BodyPower, PCA Hampshire and the PCA British Finals, and subsequently placing fourth in the PCA World Mixed Disability category in October 2018, then first in the PCA European Championship earlier this year.

© @MElson_1985

It all started with a trip to his local Anytime Fitness.

Taking advantage of the club’s free trial pass and 24/7 access, he quickly became a regular, developing a structured training plan to fit in with his busy lifestyle.

“Working in marketing means I often travel to various areas of the country,” says Elson, “but this would never prevent me skipping my gym training because I knew I there was a good chance of a local Anytime Fitness being nearby.”

And as his confidence grew, so did his progress:

“At the beginning of my membership I didn’t step into the free weight areas for six months. But, my early personal training sessions developed my confidence and I gradually started building the knowledge and patience to try new exercises.

“This progression is a testament to Anytime Fitness’ staff and other club members. Without their friendly and enthusiastic approaches, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I have a lot to thank them for throughout my journey.” 

© @MElson_1985

Since his first-placed finish at the European Champs in May, Elson’s now got his sights set on breaking America.

“I want to compete in the United States,” he says. “For me, competing in the US has become the next big personal goal, but helping grow the disability category globally, promoting the awareness of the opportunities and seeking improved access to faculties is my main mission.”


If you’re inspired by Matt Elson’s story and want to get started with a free pass, find an Anytime Fitness club near to you at anytimefitness.co.uk/pass