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‘A Person Can Achieve Anything’—Man With Cerebral Palsy Becomes A Professional Bodybuilder

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Instagram/Matt Elson

While having a physical disability can make certain aspects of life more challenging, Matt Elson wasn’t about to let having cerebral palsy keep him from achieving his dreams. He’s overcome the odds to become a professional bodybuilder, crediting his positive attitude and the support of his friends and family with helping him succeed.

The 34-year-old was diagnosed with hemiplegia, which affects the left side of his body, shortly after birth, but he’s still managed to qualify for elite disability competitions like PCA Hampshire and BodyPower and has even come in fourth place in the PCA World Mixed Disability category in 2018.

“It affects the whole left side of my body, essentially providing a smaller muscle ‘structure,'” Elson told of his condition.

“I used the term ‘weakness’ when I was younger, but this changed as I got older. The structure restricts mobility and strength. It’s presented numerous challenges physically growing up and into adulthood.”


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While Elson did experience bullying throughout his childhood, he was determined not to let the negative comments get to him and instead to pursue his dreams despite being told that they were likely impossible.

“When I was young, [my parents] were told I wouldn’t play sports, but they still wanted me to have every opportunity,” he explained. “Today I still encounter challenges, but I just adapt; I drive an automatic car with modifications and found a way to change nappies when I became a dad!

He added, “I’ve had this all my life, so you find your way. I’m not fearful or embarrassed asking for help anymore. I borrow the mantra of: ‘A person can achieve anything for which they have unlimited enthusiasm.'”


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It was getting married and having two children that inspired Matt to truly up the ante on his health and fitness regimen. He started working out at his local gym and soon discovered a love for bodybuilding.

“It has given me confidence, belief, strength – both physically and mentally. I’m able to train my right and left side, but at different paces, through adapting the equipment at the gym,” he says of his approach to becoming a bodybuilder. “The competition aspect instills discipline, while nutrition provides a healthy foundation for my life. Hemiplegia will always be a part of me, but I am determined to adapt and find ways to navigate through hurdles and break down barriers.”

Matt loves the “togetherness and friendly competitiveness” of the sport and hopes that he’s able to contribute to such a positive community while also pushing his own personal physical boundaries.


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He said, “It has taken years to find a way to train that works for my body and program; I love to gain and learn as much as I can. I use safety straps on my left side to support my motion, but one of the fun parts is testing (safely) how I can incorporate different methods. “What I love most is the notion that everyone is in the gym to improve something, so it’s an equal platform.”

Matt has more competitions planned for the future, adding, “I want to help, serve and promote disability fitness, through speaking, writing and work. I’ve been so inspired by friends’ journeys and if I can help others on stage or getting into fitness, that makes it all worth it.”


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