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From rebuilding her life, to rebuilding her confidence within the gym, Sophie Butler has come back stronger than ever from a life changing injury, and she doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon.
You’re an incredibly positive person, using the power of Social Media to ensure you spread the message that the gym really is for everyone. Has there ever been a moment in your life in which you doubted your place in the gym? And how did you overcome it?
Oh for sure. Both before and after injury there have been times when I've felt out of place in the gym. But particularly after the injury, because there was no longer anyone in the gym that looked like me. You go to the gym today and there is a very high chance you will not see a physically disabled person. In fact, you go anywhere social today and it is likely you won't see a physically disabled person. For a long time, this really knocked my confidence, I started to think maybe I didn't have a place with the rest of society. But I knew how important fitness was, not just for my recovery, but for my mind and, so I decided that "ok, maybe there isn't anyone in my gym who looks like me, but maybe I need to be that representation for other people". And once I started to fall back in love with training, I started to fall back in love with life. It helped me find my strength and redefine my limits.
How did it feel when you stepped back into the gym for the first time after your injury? And how did you find the strength to do this?
Returning to the gym after having an injury in the gym was a very difficult thing to do and, for a time felt like an impossible thing to do. It took a lot of bravery and patience with my mind. I had to rebuild my idea of the gym as my safe space, my haven and not my nightmare. Which to be honest I started doing the minute I was conscious after surgery. I don't remember much from the first few weeks post surgery but, the one thing I do remember is laying in intensive care and thinking about training. I just had this vision of how I'd return stronger and better than before, I had this vision of my scar and how cool it would look when doing pulling ups. I had some pretty dark, lonely and painful days when I was in the hospital but this was the vision that carried me through all of them. So when I got home, and I had the privilege of being able to go back to the gym. I knew I just owed it to myself, I knew then what a luxury being able to go and train was.
Out of everything, what is the one thing you would most like people to take away from your story?
I think there is so much to learn from my story. However you decide to look at it, you could decide it's a sad story of a young girl whose life has been changed forever, or, you could look at it as a story of strength and defiance. That part is up to you. So I guess I want people to learn that they decide how their own story unfolds. There are lots of people all over the world right now facing hardships & adversity and I want them all to know that they have so much more power than they even realise. You can't control what happens to you in this life but, you can control how you react to it.
You’re very close to your dad, how important has it been to have a strong support group around you?
Oh so important. Family is everything. Family, to me, has always been the people you choose to have around you, the people who believe in you and support you. The people you surround yourself with have such an impact on your life and for me, my recovery. Since my injury, I've come across some people who didn't believe in my vision or my goals and I've found that I've just had to distance myself from those people. I realised how important it was when I was discharged from the hospital, as I went from being surrounded by strangers with a variety of different opposing views and expectations to being with my family, who believe in and support everything I do. The energy you surround yourself with is the vibe you absorb and even if you try not to let it, it will impact your mind and your soul. I owe so much to the people around me, if it hadn't been for my family's trust in me, I don't think I'd have the trust I have in myself today.
It’s Gymshark 66 and we’re all about those New Year’s Resolutions… do you have anything you would like to accomplish in 2019?
Oh yeah, I'm going to cure spinal injuries. I'm kidding... maybe. All jokes aside, I do genuinely believe I have been given this path in life for a reason, I feel like I have accomplished so much already since my injury and that there is still so much more to do. I believe that hardships prepare ordinary people for extraordinary destinies and, I feel like 2019 is a very important year in that journey. I want to continue to grow in strength and as a person, I want to continue to learn even more about spinal injuries and use that to help people in recovery and I hope to inspire and motivate people along the way.
I want to make sure I live every day in a way that encourages that progress. We always say that with spinal injuries it's not about miracles, it's about progress. I want to make sure I live every day in a way that encourages that progress.
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