The Fighter

Nikki Bradley

The Fighter: Nikki is getting CrossFit


MOST of you know I have been training with Coach Neil Barrett, owner of Fithub Letterkenny for the past couple of months.

I wanted to get my head around the terminology before I attempted to write about my experience but as it turns out, I still have no clue what most of the movements are called so I thought I would soldier on regardless. 

My first training session with Neil was back in January. It feels like so long ago now, my range of movement was so limited compared to where I am currently.


I went in to that first training session genuinely unsure as to whether I would be able for it. I knew I was playing with the big dogs by joining CrossFit, it wasn’t going to be a nice, floaty, laid back workout. I was prepared to be tested and to step outside my comfort zone. It helps that I have known Neil for a number of years.

I don’t think I could train with someone I didn’t know well or trust as there are times when my safety is in their hands. I need to feel that they understand any limitations I may have and work within those. Neil has understood this from day one and this is a comfort.

In saying that he doesn’t water down my sessions either. Believe me when I say I sometimes literally sweat from my eyeballs!
Each month my measurements are taken and any change in body size is recorded. I didn’t follow any form of diet for January or February so I honestly didn’t expect to see a difference in body shape. I was surprised throughout as each ‘weigh in’ proved me wrong.

There were days when I walked out of training and straight into the nearest shop for a big latte and I still managed to lose inches off my waist.

I train twice a week which compared to others isn’t that much but what we do in those two hours is enough to stimulate change in my muscles.
I was looking at my back the other day (as you do) and I couldn’t believe how many different muscles were popping up all over the place.

I feel stronger each week and have progressed in most of the various movements we have tested out. The only thing I can’t do properly, and it annoys the living daylights out of me, is dead-lifting from the floor. My technique is compromised due to the lack of bend in my hip.
I find this unbelievably frustrating as I was hoping to compete in this area. Competition rules state that the bar must be picked up from the ground so initially I thought it was game over for dead-lifting. Neil is confident we can find a way around it so I will leave it to him to come up with a solution! 


I recently decided to set myself a time limit after receiving a letter in the post with my next appointment for The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham.


The letter outlined that a decision on whether to operate or not might be made during this meeting, if that happens my training will be put on hold for weeks, possibly months.

The appointment is on September 22 which gives me just over five months to get myself up to a high enough standard to compete as an athlete.
Whether I actually compete or not has yet to be decided but I am keen to continue towards that goal. My campaign started out with me setting monthly physical challenges which I loved but I am now ready to embark on a long term challenge.

I was filling out a form recently and one of the questions asked me to discuss my future goals. As I began writing I was surprised at how much my goals have changed over the past two years. I find myself looking to the future more (maybe it’s my age) and part of looking to the future involves accepting that my current situation is not going to get much better.

Regardless of whether the operation goes ahead in Birmingham the end result will remain the same. My hip bone will not get better.
They can operate to give me some leg length back but that will be a short term solution. In the future I will have some difficult decisions to make, the word ‘amputation’ is creeping into my vocabulary more and more and there will come a time when I might have to make that final decision. I am determined to do as much as I can before that happens.
My training allows me to focus on positive goals and seeing progression each week is a genuine boost to my morale.

I mentioned last week that we had introduced handstands to the regime and I am loving it! If at three months I am already doing handstands where will I be in another three months? I can’t wait to find out!


Neil Barrett Outlines The Progress He Has Made With Nikki
Our training goals have evolved so much since we first sat down and discussed the possibility of doing CrossFit properly.
The first 8-10 weeks have been a learning process for both of us, Nikki learning new skills and movements and me as a coach figuring out ways to introduce these skills and movements in a safe, fun and effective way. 

We started with the basics and have now progressed to the more complex. Nikki progresses at a rate that I have never seen before, a mixture of drive, determination and stubbornness that all the best athletes possess in just the right amount. 

They say when you lose the use of one of your senses the remaining senses become enhanced, well I think in Nikki’s case her lack of mobility has made her exceptional at complex skills. 

Our original goal was to take part in CrossFit classes, that is still a secondary goal, however I want to help Nikki progress at the elements she has shown great potential in, for example Olympic weight lifting and gymnastics.

On land Nikki is significantly limited in the movements she can perform, in the air i.e. bar or rings she is not, so a big emphasis over the next 8 to 10 weeks will be learning body weight bar/ring movements. 

Where Nikki is also not limited is on her hands, therefore we will be spending much time upside down working on handstands etc.
Coupling this with the aptitude she has shown in Olympic lifting, it wont be long until she is able to compete as an athlete in many different disciplines.

Nikki Bradley is the founder of Fighting Fit For Ewing’s, a campaign to promote awareness of Ewing’s Sarcoma. Nikki is sponsored by All Sports in Donegal Town. Support her campaign by giving ‘Fighting Fit For Ewing’s’ a LIKE on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @nikkibradley59

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere

and get access to our archive editions dating back to 2007
Every Thursday
Every Monday

Apologies for my absence of late, I have been very bold and haven’t done much writing. I hope you'll...


Donegal News is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. St. Anne's Court, Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland