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Brentwood Centre's trainee autistic gym instructor and body builder hopes to encourage more people to start exercising

PUBLISHED: 12:00 21 November 2018 | UPDATED: 12:49 21 November 2018

Body builder Ben Ashley, who runs autistic gym sessions at the Brentwood Centre.

Body builder Ben Ashley, who runs autistic gym sessions at the Brentwood Centre.

Brentwood Centre

A 26-year-old autistic gym enthusiast turned body builder has launched his own bootcamp classes to inspire others with learning disabilities to exercise.

Body builder Ben Ashley, who runs autistic gym sessions at the Brentwood Centre.Body builder Ben Ashley, who runs autistic gym sessions at the Brentwood Centre.

Trainee Ben Ashley, from Grays, runs his autism-friendly sessions at the Brentwood Centre, Doddinghurst Road, Brentwood, every Saturday, alongside a fully-qualified gym instructor.

He hopes that his classes will encourage people to feel comfortable while getting fit and feels they are already having a positive impact.

“There’s someone in my class who I think looks up to me a bit because what I’ve been able to do so I feel like I am helping”, he said.

“I want people with autism and other learning disabilities to not feel excluded and get involved with sport and enjoy it as much as I do.”

Ben made it his New Year’s Resolution to start exercising more when he was 20 and after having some personal training, became determined to pursue a career in fitness.

He was soon given the opportunity to volunteer at the Brentwood Centre and was supported by the centre throughout his Level 2 fitness instructor course which he passed with flying colours.

As a sign of all of his hard work, Ben was also nominated for Apprentice of the Year at the Brentwood Business Awards earlier this month.

Ben said: “I used to lack in self-confidence and found it difficult communicating with people but I’ve improved a lot since I started working out and running the classes.”

Since volunteering at the centre, Ben has worked hard to get into the world of body building as well and is already taking part in competitions up and down the country, including one in July, held in Middleton, where he was presented with 4th place.

He hopes he can be an inspiration to others with learning disabilities through his fitness lifestyle.

Nicky Smith from the Brentwood Leisure Trust, which runs the centre, said: “We’re incredibly proud of Ben, he’s worked so hard and deserves to be recognised for it.

“He’s much more confident now compared to when he first came here and we’re excited to see how he continues to progress.”

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