Sarcelles: Coach Vidal Elbaz, a hand amputated, invites people with disabilities to the gym

Vidal Elbaz is not a sports coach like the others. Victim of an elevator accident in Paris that cost him his hand when he was 10 years old, the founder of the association Eternal Victory, born in 2017, now volunteers for people with disabilities.

He regularly trains about fifteen people in the XL Fit room in Saint-Brice. “I have visited many sports halls and the boss François Matarrese responded immediately. I would like it to become normal to find suitable machines in a classic gym and for the able-bodied and disabled to train together. †

The coachees enjoy a free or a reduced rate, depending on the degree of incapacity for work. Salah, who has multiple sclerosis, joined the program a few months ago. He comes up to five times a week. “I feel wonderfully well,” assures this Taverny resident, who was involved in athletics and boxing in his youth. I went to a rehabilitation center, but it was difficult to find a good physical therapist. I did some research and I was referred to Vidal’s association who offered me to go to the room”. At the gym we also meet Quentin, quadriplegic, or Dario, a stroke victim, who is also training as a coach.

Customized and medicalized machines

This Wednesday morning, Michel Cohen, a volunteer from Montmagny, passionate about music, brings Salah with joy and good humor. “I helped him with the spine,” he explains. People come and do what they can. This shows how difficult it is for people with disabilities. †

“You can exercise with able-bodied people. In the center we all had the same problems. I find machines adapted to my handicap because I am lucky enough to be able to stand,” continues Salah. Vidal also welcomes associations and medical-educational institutes in the hall.

Saint Brice. Vidal Elbaz, a sports coach with one hand amputee, has been training for five years in the XL Fit room in Saint-Brice.

At XL Fit, three new modified and medicalized machines (a thigh press, a pulley and a biceps machine) are to be installed, allowing a wheelchair to enter without the person having to get out. But the costs incurred by the association are high and Vidal Elbaz is looking for subsidies. One of them, for 12,000 euros, arrived this week.

For the future, with the support of the city of Sarcelles, she is studying a project to open a private adapted room, which would be accessible to everyone, disabled or not.

“Psychological Benefits”

Sports enthusiast “already in his mother’s womb”, former professional football player and bodybuilder, Vidal Elbaz, 47, has always participated in competitions in the “valid” category. “I’ve never felt handicapped, so that’s never stopped me from playing sports. I sculpted a body so impressive that anyone who saw me would never notice my disability. I was the only one running in Sarcelles at 2am wearing a wetsuit to dry off! They called me the machine. Sport saved me,” said the person who was also in detention.

Saint Brice.  This machine adapted for the disabled, which costs 12,000 euros, has arrived at the gym.
Saint Brice. This machine adapted for the disabled, which costs 12,000 euros, has arrived at the gym.

Finally, 4 years ago, he passed the training of “training professions” at the university and then that of adapted sports coach of the French Federation of Handisport. “Exercising when you are disabled has psychological benefits: it allows you to gain autonomy, maintain social relationships and regain self-confidence. We also develop skills aimed at compensating for the handicap, such as endurance and agility. It is easier to move around in a wheelchair’, he illustrates.

This father of five, who is currently also caring for his disabled father in a wheelchair, has been training at XL Fit for 5 years. “It’s my oxygen, I’m like a fish in water”, is the image of the person who sees his coachees as friends.

“I create a family spirit. A man with mechanical legs who played badminton for the disabled went into a hall for the first time. He thought he couldn’t do that, that everyone would look at him. People with disabilities should not be missed.

A leather “bracelet” to wear your dumbbells

Vidal Elbaz has been wearing a natural prosthesis since 1988 and was recently allowed to test the bionic hand of Handy Bionic, another partner of his association. To lift his dumbbells, he uses a leather brace to strengthen his forearm. “I don’t need it for pushing, but I couldn’t work out without the pull and lift wristband. It changed my life,” he says.

Saint Brice.  Vidal Elbaz wears a natural prosthesis and uses this leather bracelet to lift weights.
Saint Brice. Vidal Elbaz wears a natural prosthesis and uses this leather bracelet to lift weights.

People who have tested it claim it and it plans to market it. “This device is useful for people who are paralyzed or amputated. It is used to catch and carry objects, be it groceries or dumbbells, and can carry loads from 150 to 200 kg, he explains. I had it made and it comes back to me at 600 euros. Deputy Dominique Da Silva is helping me get social security support.”

The coach, who has spent most of his life in Sarcelles, will organize on July 3 in this city the third edition of his event “A sport for all”, dedicated to all sports, both able-bodied and people with disabilities.

Eternal Victory is also a partner of the Handisport Football Cup, which will be held in Sarcelles in a week’s time in June. This hyperactive with a big heart also owns an energy drink brand, Pur Energy, and the sportswear brand Eternal Victory.