British citizen Terry Nelson is in Washington this week on a mission to educate American wounded warriors to the possibilities of exercising with his "aqua running" suit.
Designed to reduce effective body weight by up to 90 percent, the suit allows physically impaired individuals to exercise safely and effectively in water.
Nelson isn't a geek who likes gadgets, but a former soccer star whose invention originated with his own experience. The development of his aqua running suit came after he was diagnosed with a kidney disease that required a double kidney transplant. Although he remained active, winning a gold medal in the 1993 World Transplant Games, he was forced to spend more than a decade on a kidney dialysis machine six days a week.
Rather than give up, Nelson spent his time perfecting his knowledge of water-based training. With time and effort, the aqua running suit was born!
And what a suit it is. At a demonstration event at a British diplomatic residence in Washington on Thursday, Nelson put two volunteers through their paces. Utilizing his training regime, which has since been adopted by the Real Madrid soccer club — Nelson showed how the suit offers a range of resistance opportunities for individuals of varied health and strength.
The suit isn't just for high-fitness training. One of Nelson's colleagues told me about a baby girl who suffers from a brain condition that greatly limits her movement. Hearing her story, Nelson designed a specially made aqua suit for the girl, which allows her to swim in the water. Her father called Nelson's team and said that the first time his daughter used the suit was also the first time she ever smiled.
Still, as my photos below hopefully illustrate, Nelson's high-tempo motivation is inspiring to watch!
It gets better, because on Friday, Nelson will go to Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va., to demonstrate his suit for the U.S. Marine Corps. Nelson told me that he sees major potential in the suit for wounded service personnel who have suffered internal injuries or external amputations, or like Nelson, a mix of both. He believes that the water offers a natural training environment in that it creates physical resistance but also a condition of natural relaxation. A phase two suit, in development, will also provide users with data feedback.
Put simply, Nelson is an inspirational guy who matches a determined entrepreneurial spirit to an unusual human morality. In doing so, he represents everything that's best about the Anglo-American special relationship. And after spending just a couple of minutes with Nelson, it's clear that he's not going to rest until his suit has helped everyone he believes it can. He's a man on a mission to help heroes — and all others — improve their lives.