This week we're delighted to feature an interview with athlete and Pararoos squad member Chris Barty!
Chris is a fantastic athlete who's been coming to us since Fitlife first started a few years ago. He has spastic quadriplegia, which is a form of cerebral palsy, and massage is a critical part of his recovery process.
Read on to get to know Chris better...
What led you down the path of pursuing an athletic career?
I was always sports-mad and constantly watching all manner of sports on TV. I’m also naturally extremely competitive - I’d race cockroaches if they’d let me!
I have a condition called spastic quadriplegia which is a form of cerebral palsy (CP). Whilst this may have made physical activity a bit more of a challenge, it’s always felt like more of an inconvenience than a barrier to doing what I wanted to do. I was always playing basketball in the garden with my brother and my parents were really supportive.
My competitive streak and general determination led to involvement in more sports as I got older, and I now represent Australia at soccer by playing for the Pararoos and have in recent years got involved in throwing events on the athletics side of things.
As I’ve got older, sport has become an integral part of my wellbeing in terms of managing my condition. I’m constantly learning about my body and what it’s capable of.
How do you juggle a full time job with athletics training and competitive events?
I have a very supportive workplace and partner!
Athletics is actually a great compliment to my job because I work in a mostly sedentary role (i.e. a desk job) which isn’t too good for someone with CP as I need to keep my limbs working.
An average day for me would be to wake up at 5am for training, go to work for eight hours, go back to training and then go home for dinner, Netflix and bed.
It certainly helps to have clearly defined goals and strategies for achieving them so I know how to work towards them in my training. In terms of throwing events I’m aiming for the Tokyo Summer Olympics in 2020, and I’ve been working really hard on the soccer side of things to be in my best shape for the Cerebral Palsy Football (IFCPF) World Championships in Argentina in September.
How does sports massage make your life easier?
I’ve been coming to Fitlife Sports Massage once a fortnight for massages since they started up in Oxford Street, Leederville, and it’s a critical part of my recovery process.
Athletes with CP fatigue a little quicker than “regular” athletes, so it’s extra important for me to maintain my health and wellbeing on a daily basis. Massage certainly “props me up” for another fortnight!
My sessions at Fitlife are great for dialogue as well as the massage itself - the guys are constantly explaining what they’re going and I can learn more about my body and strategies for how to get the most out of it - or how to recover as quickly as possible.
As a more senior member of the Pararoos this year, I’m conscious of the fact that I’m a bit of a role model and I love to pass on what I learn in my massage sessions to team mates.
What are your future sporting plans?
My ultimate focus is achieving my lifelong dream of going to the Olympics, so most of my plans are geared towards Tokyo 2020.
Next year, I’ll be doing some more track work I’m hoping to qualifiy for the 2019 World Athletics Championships.
I’m very much open to opportunity, though - athletics has opened so many doors for me. I’ve travelled to every continent in the world (except Africa) through sport and also had the chance to play basketball at the University of Arizona which was fantastic.
I work really hard but absolutely reap the rewards.
Physical activity is always going to be very important to me as someone with CP because it helps me maintain my physical well being.
In the long run I’d like to settle down and have a family, so I want to be fit for that.
Even if I’m no longer competing, physical activity will be no less significant for me as part of the bigger picture.