Despite living with severe forms of cerebral palsy, a husband and wife duo are taking the bodybuilding world by storm.
Wade McCrae Washington and BJ Glaze - both now 47 - were diagnosed with the disorder at birth, but they have never stopped dreaming big.
The married couple also live with scoliosis, a rare spinal disease, which adds to their difficulty to perform everyday tasks.
It was more than 20 years ago since Wade and BJ met at college in Houston, Texas, where they now live together - and they haven’t looked back since.
Quitting has never been an option in their world and that’s largely down to their expert trainer, Tina Chandler, and motivator, Carl Ducena, two people who have played a pivotal role in their lives.
Since his first training session with Tina, Wade has gone on to become a World Champion in the Adaptive Bodybuilding Division – an extraordinary achievement.
Wade and BJ now help Tina and Carl with their ‘Normal To Be Fit’ programme, where they help to inspire others to get fit despite living with a disability.
Wade told Barcroft TV: “Cerebral palsy has not held us back from being able to perform in the gym. Despite our disability we’ve become bodybuilders – we’ve made that happen."
“With bench pressing, I can actually max 120lbs! I always wanted to be a professional wrestler or bodybuilder, but I thought the wrestling would be a little too dangerous… So I chose bodybuilding and I went to Tina and asked her to train me.”
And BJ, a pageant champion and fitness guru in her own right, added: “We take that ‘disability’ label off of us and we throw it away. No more labels, no more limitations. Wade really inspired me with my fitness, and with the help of Tina and Carl, we’re a real team. The four of us. Without them, we wouldn’t know what side was up and what side was down.”
Tina, 44, is a professional IFBB pro bodybuilder, who takes pride in helping others achieve their fitness goals.
With the help of her very own super motivator husband, Carl, 38, Tina has transformed Wade and BJ’s confidence and is now someone they class as a beloved friend.
Tina said: “When Wade first came to me and said, ‘I want to be a bodybuilder’, I literally had to take a moment and say, ‘Are you serious?’ I sat and talked with him for a bit and I saw the intensity behind his eyes, he had a real seriousness about him.
I’m like, ‘Okay, let’s go. Let’s do this’. I’ve now been training Wade for four years and BJ for three years. I’m so proud of how far they have come together."
Wade is now capable of using a lot of the machines on his own.
“I still have to adapt some of the movements for BJ, but we’ve gained so much confidence in what we’re doing. They still have some weakness with their leg coordination, but that’s something we’re constantly working on. It’s just been such a pleasure to watch them grow.”
And Carl has certainly played his part too, always maintaining those high spirits amongst the camp.
He said: “I’m the hype man! I’m team motivator, we come together as a team. Their level of confidence has risen so much. It’s a beautiful thing. The four of us have become a real family. Tina is Mama Bear coach, I’m Papa Bear coach.
Wade and BJ, they just don’t limit themselves. That’s what is so special about them. There’s no stopping this inspiration, it’s meant to be.”
Wade added: “Without Tina and Carl, we just wouldn’t be where we are today.”
Doctors told Wade he would only live until he was 10 years old. Proving all the odds wrong, he continued into his teenage years and had to battle through years of bullying at school.
“I did have a lot of bullying growing up in my life,” Wade said. “It was not good, I’m not going to lie.”
And BJ’s early life followed a similar path. She continued: “I got bullied too because of the way I speak. People would always say that I speak ‘terribly’. I still get some funny looks today, but you learn to look past all of that.”
And things certainly began to look up for the two of them when they started their college years – and their life together.
Wade said: “We first met at Houston Community College, the downtown campus. It was definitely love at first sight for me. I was like, every day I saw her I would say I love you. And I still do now.”
Living their years hand in hand since then, Wade’s biggest inspiration to get into the bodybuilding world was his grandmother. Before she died, she told Wade to make something better of his life and so he took the advice on board and began to train three times a week.
And despite all of Wade and BJ’s achievements in bodybuilding since they first started training together, and all the hardships they endured in their childhood, they still haven’t stopped there.
They now play a big part in Tina and Carl’s ‘Normal To Be Fit’ programme. Tina said: “Through working with Wade and BJ, and bringing into awareness a whole group of people living with disabilities, my company ‘Normal To Be Fit’ started a non-profit arm.
“And what we do is we volunteer free of charge service for anything and everything in the gym. Wade and BJ are starting to come there and volunteer their help. And sitting back and seeing the pride on Wade’s face when he’s helping someone else is just priceless.
“And BJ talking to one of the ladies in a wheelchair and she’s like, ‘Come on honey, I’m going to do it with you’. They don’t let anything hold them back.”
Wade and BJ now have high hopes to continue their volunteering assistance and become personal trainers. Wade said: “I’m volunteering with ‘Normal To Be Fit’, doing what I can do."
“I’m spreading the awareness out for cerebral palsy and scoliosis and other disabilities. I help and I assist people with different machines. My goal is now to become a personal trainer myself.
“Me and BJ have done everything else together. We’re blessed to have each other. I’m very proud of my wife."
“We did it.” BJ added: “Nothing is every easy. We make it look easy, but it’s not. I’m so proud of Wade and everything he has overcome too.”