Site icon Women Fitness

Katie Knowles: True Inspirational Life Story Of An Exceptional Achiever

KATIE KNOWLESKatie Knowles, age 24 is a partially paralyzed model. Katie was only 15 when she was diagnosed with a degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is when the spinal column is too narrow, the spinal canal will constrict and rub against the spinal cord which causes pain, numbness or weakness.

When Katie was 20 she had a surgery that was supposed to fix her spinal stenosis and rid her of the back pain that plagued her during her late teenage years. However, after a 9 hour surgery, the aspiring law student awoke and couldn’t feel her lower body. Doctors grimly informed her that she was partially paralyzed from the waist down and looked forward to a lifetime spent in a wheelchair.

For Katie, who was an avid ballet dancer, swimmer, and played badminton when she wasn’t off horse-backing riding, this was devastating news. Katie was depressed, but determined to learn how to walk again. Then a friend suggested taking a few modeling photos to boost her self-confidence. Katie agreed and after her friend posted the photos on social media, modelling agencies began contacting Katie.

Now Katie works as a model for Models of Diversity. She says she’s willing to try anything at shoots, such as posing on horseback or wedding photos. She said during the wedding photo shoot the photographer’s assistant had to hide under her dress to hold her steady. Katie says she wants to reach out to other disabled people and tell them they can still achieve their dreams despite any setbacks they may have encountered.

Brainy law student Katie amazed medics by ditching the wheelchair and learning how to walk all over again through gruelling physiotherapy. Now, Katie has landed on her feet and is a earning her way as a top model.

On her facebook page her profile read as below:

“Paid work as a part time disabled model and TFP shoots that I feel will be a fantastic benefit to my portfolio. I am an experienced fashion and commercial model with a lot of bridal and creative shoot experience. I am a disabled model with a spinal condition so I shoot with my fantastic Glamsticks, don’t let my disability put you off, it makes me work harder!” She is now also a model for Models of Diversity, a company that campaign for more diversity within the modeling industry.

Katie Knowles is a leading, talented model with special needs. She is in conversation with Namita Nayyar President Women Fitness.

All content on this site is copyright of Women Fitness and no part of any article found on this site may be reproduced without an express permission and highlighted, do follow link crediting or preferably the original page as the source. This interview is exclusive and taken by Namita Nayyar President and should not be reproduced, copied or hosted in part or full anywhere without an express permission.

All Written Content Copyright © 2016 Women Fitness

Ms. Namita Nayyar: You as a young girl has been a ballet dancer, swimmer, badminton player and a horse rider. You played badminton for the county and swam competitively. But when you were just 15 years old, you developed disc degenerative disease and spinal stenosis. At 16 years of age you underwent surgery to remove the part of the slipped disc that was pressing on your nerve, in the hope that it would reduce your back pain. However, four years later the pain returned and doctors decided to carry out a more extreme operation to remove the disc entirely. It was after this operation that you woke up unable to feel or move anything in your lower body. With absolute determination you ventured into and took start your career in modelling. Now you are a successful model. Tell us about your journey of utmost determination, grit and that has been an inspiration to others?

Ms. Katie Knowles: It has definitely been a hard and testing journey over the last nine years, especially over the last three years. Losing my ability to take part in my favourite sports was extremely hard and upsetting, truthfully I still had all that energy and want to do them but I was unable to do so. This was when I realised I needed to steer my focus into something I was able to do.

Any sports person would know that stopping exercise that you previously did five times a week to then nothing, would lead to weight gain. In my case four stone. This was the first thing I needed to address. I joined Weight Watchers and by that diet alone lost the four stone in a year. This is how the modelling began, I met a girl at Weight Watchers who was a model and worked with the organisation Models of Diversity. I got involved with them and was lucky enough to walk at the ideal home show in London and other various shoots for clothing companies such as Tags to Love and charities such as Global Makes Some Noise. I am lucky now to be an ambassador for them and promote diversity in the fashion and media industry.

Through this I then got involved in Miss North East GB 2015 pageant and made history as the first UK disabled finalist and then the first disabled finalist to place, I came third for Newcastle. The confidence I have gained through modelling has further shown me I am capable of doing things I did not think I could. As I gained confidence in myself and my ability I began walking the dog more and along with my hydrotherapy at the hospital I began riding at a RDA centre – Pegasus Centre in Tranwell.

I was determined to get back riding, it was probably the sport I missed the most. It may sound stupid, but because I cannot feel my leg and foot very well being on the horse feels like my legs. When I am on a horse I feel “normal” whatever that is, I feel like I am walking not the horse. I love the horse I ride called George he’s just been broken in and is a baby full of beans and its nice I’m helping him and he’s helping me. You have to remember it took me at least six months to learn how to walk again after my last surgery, this is walking with mobility aids and on my own with the bars at rehabilitation in the hospital.

The pain of trying to walk and have any mobility is enough to push me to do anything, if I can deal with that pain I can deal with anything. I don’t know where it came from, but I genuinely woke up one morning and thought ‘Katie you are alive, it could have been worse, come on!’ previous to this I was gaining weight and getting down as I could not get out and about, I was not at work, I was missing university. After that kick up the bum I am over the moon to say I graduated from my law degree this summer at Northumbria and I am looking forward to training to be a solicitor especially now I have a big interest in disability rights.

Even with these big dreams, my rehab and physio of hydrotherapy and horse riding is still extremely important in my recovery. I have taken part in dressage competitions at Tranwell, the last one coming 3rd in my set I was over the moon and I am due to start training for more competitions and regionals with a new suitable horse. I am very stubborn and refuse to give up just because I have a disability. I have an ex paralympian at my stables who is wheelchair bound and she totally inspires me to push my riding further but also anything I want to do.

Ms. Namita Nayyar: You were once modelling on a horse and the horse threw you off backwards – everyone else was concerned about your back but you were more worried about your hair and make up. Tell us about this episode of your courage and professionalism?

Ms. Katie Knowles: I laugh about falling off of the horse at the photoshoot with the fabulous photographer Rebbeca Raistrick because I was genuinely worried about the dress that was thousands of pounds on loan from Curious Heart Ltd! I used to get thrown off of horses all the time when I was younger so I thought nothing of it when I got chucked off. I think I forget sometimes that my spine is fused and I am to avoid impact. I am not saying I am going to go bungee jumping but at the same time I have gotten to the point when I do not want to walk on egg shells.

I am always safe and sensible in what I do and I was checked over at the hospital after this shoot. My consultant told me off a little bit but at the same time understands my passion with riding but also that I should be able to do what other 24 year olds want to do. I love horses and I know it did not do it on purpose, however I wish it had been recorded as I have never seen so many people panic before, cameras flying, trainers running and me panicking about the dress and my makeup. I always try to be professional and I am aware of my limits with some shoots, but I think I am quite brave and at least give it a go.

Ms. Namita Nayyar:
After operation you lost feeling in your toes, feet, and thighs. You couldn’t even get out of bed without help – but you amazed medics by ditching the wheelchair and managed to learn to walk all over again after undergoing gruelling physiotherapy. Tell us about this true miracle that happened in your life?

Ms. Katie Knowles:
It really is a miracle that I can walk at all, never mind with my Glamsticks. My Glamsticks are fabulous sparkly crutches that “take the dull out of disability” which could not be more true and really did help being positive with recovery and still feeling young even though my condition is an older persons condition. I am lucky to be an ambassador for the company Glamsticks and I am so grateful for all that they have done in helping me regain my mobility physically and mentally.

Waking up and not being able to feel my lower half is just indescribable. I thought my life was over, I was screaming saying they had chopped my legs off I was in a right state. They had to try calm me down as I was getting so hysterical, I was 22 at University, a normal girl and now I faced life very differently. The first time they tried to get me up they were very hopeful. A physic either side trying to get me off the bed, I was crying my eyes out with the pain. Standing up with their help I tried to take a step. I could see my foot in front of me, I was dragging it to put on the floor but I could not feel it. The hospital nick named me ‘bambi’ as I wobbled with a zimmer frame as if I was on ice. I practiced this every day for as much as my body would allow.

I was determined to have mobility even if it was limited. Weeks passed and I was told I could go home if I could manage the stairs. Stairs have never looked so hard. Struggling with Glamsticks and sheer exhaustion using muscles I had never used, I managed and was allowed to go home and continue rehabilitation on a outpatient basis. Through intense physiotherapy at rehabilitation in the hospital I can now walk with my Glamsticks and only have to use wheelchairs and scooters occasionally. Sadly, I have never regained the majority of feeling in my foot and thigh but my other muscles have started to adapt.

I have amazed my surgeons and physiotherapy team who never thought this would be possible. I still cannot believe that I might have never walked again, I am stubborn and do not like to be told I cannot do something. The rehabilitation team have had me involved with helping to inspire other patients who have similar mobility issues, I am happy to help with any age it really doesn’t matter. I just know how it felt when it happened to me, I had everyone around me but at first I felt so alone. if I can help someone not feel that they are alone and there is hope or there are other options and adaptions then I am on board.


Ms. Namita Nayyar: What exercises/physiotherapy comprise your fitness regime or workout routine you may wish to share?

Ms. Katie Knowles: My fitness regime consists of horse riding up to twice a week at the moment until I start training more for competitions and then regionals. I walk my big dalmatian 3-4 times a week at an hour a time either at the beach or the local beautiful countryside, to try and build up my stamina and also the muscles in my damaged leg. I have hydrotherapy depending on when the hospital can book me in, it could be once a month at the or once every two/three months; but in the mean time I try swimming and walking in the water 1-2 times a week at my local gym – Greens Gym.

This may not sound a lot but this is a lot compared to having no lower half mobility. I am hoping to get involved in badminton in a wheelchair as whilst doing a photoshoot for Aspire Centre in London they have all these disabled sports, so I am hoping to get more involved in them up North. Swimming is also a massive help and relief for me as I am not in pain in the water as I am not carrying any weight. I am also in talks to start trying to swim competively again in disabled competitions, I won’t be back up to county league but I miss the buzz of competitive sport.

Ms. Namita Nayyar:
Do you take some special diet or have a strict menu that you follow to remain healthy and physically fit?

Ms. Katie Knowles:
I follow Weight Watchers mainly. It seems to be what works for me. With this diet or what I call ‘change of life’ I mainly track my food at its pointed value. Every one is allocated so many points a day by their weight and height and age with an extra 49 points on top. I find this easy to follow as I can see what I am putting into my body. I am a massive fruit fan so being able to eat limitless amounts of it makes me very happy and stops me picking at bad things. I was lucky enough to be in the Weight Watchers July 2015 edition in the inspiring people section for my successful weight loss.

This was a massive achievement for me and something I worked so hard for. If for some reason I cannot follow it I try and stay healthy and nutritious, making sure I get lots of vegetables and oily fish to help my bones stay strong. I try to avoid fatty foods as they make me sluggish and again due to medications and their side effects, my digestive system doesn’t appreciate it. I love to cook in my home and so I make a lot of the family meals which are always full of protein and goodness, my favourite dish to cook is thai green curry.

Ms. Namita Nayyar:
You have glowing skin and gorgeous hair. Do you take some kind of skin treatment to keep it young and glowing and secondly what you do to your hair to make them look so stunning?

Ms. Katie Knowles: My hair funnily enough falls out quite a lot due to my medication I take so I had to try find a solution to keeping it healthy for myself but also for photo shoots. I discovered coconut oil, the jar you can buy in the supermarkets. I wash my hair normally first with Garnier Ultimate Blends shampoo – the marvellous transformer and then put coconut oil on like a mask put a cap on and leave on for about 30 mins before washing. It makes my hair shiny and strong. I also take Magnesium and Vitamin B and make sure I drink plenty of water to keep hydrated with my hair and my skin.

I try to avoid heat on my hair as it is so thick but also gets damaged easily because of my medication. If it is a must I make sure I use Tresemme heat protection keratin smooth and Loreal lumina contrast gloss serum. I have been very lucky with my skin, I think I get it from my mum. My diet is key to my skin being good, especially if I fall of the wagon with my food I can tell by my skin straight away as it would look dull and dry.

I do not use some secret lotion, I literally cleanse my face with Simple purifying cleanser and use a very rich moisturiser, usually Olay active hydrating cream for my face as I can suffer from dry skin. I use No 7 rich night cream for the face a well. I do try and do a charcoal face mask – Origins active charcoal mask twice a month to clean my skin and pores.

Water is the big thing along with diet so I try and keep drinking it by the gallon. I also try not not have much dairy as I find that makes my skin suffer, so I have almond milk or dairy free products when I can to keep my skin glowing.

For my body I swear by Vaseline dry skin moisturiser as I suffer with eczema along with the dry skin and this always clears my skin up. When I am suffering with my skin I use coconut oil as a face mask and let it sink in, I have also been known to make avocado and honey face masks and try to keep them on and not eat them. My medication really plays havoc with my skin it really drys it out, makes my nails peel and my hair fall out; so I have to be on top form to not let this happen. This also might sound weird but I always make sure the make up brushes are clean with photoshoots as I just want my skin protected. Along with the brushes I make sure every single day no matter what time it is to thoroughly take my make up off.

Ms. Namita Nayyar: Tell us about one of your memorable photo shoot or a cat walk you still remember as model?

Ms. Katie Knowles: My most memorable moment was shooting a bridal photoshoot with the fantastic Laura-Jayne Photography with birds of prey from Andy Howey. I was so excited to be in the bridal gowns from Curious Heart Ltd at a incredible castle but I was even more excited to work with these beautiful creatures. I worked with owls and birds of prey, my favourite was a little owl called Tinko who just sat on my Glam stick and sat on my shoulder happy as anything. Tinko and the other birds have worked with the likes of Cara Delevigne for Mulberry and Mercedes among many more, I felt so privileged. They were so well behaved and loved to be stroked and kissed. The pictures are incredible and the memory of working with these fantastic creatures are edged in my memory forever.

Ms. Namita Nayyar:
With exceptional hard work you are credited with all your achievements as a model. Do you believe that does the hand of Providence (Supreme Being) played a role in your success?

Ms. Katie Knowles:
I don’t necessarily believe a supreme being helped with my success. I do however think that the modelling success would not have happened if it was not for the complications with my surgery. When that happened I had to learn to be more confident in myself and confident in asking for help. I do not think this confidence would have come about that way if it was not for the surgery, modelling was not on the agenda. I think my success with my walking and strength is down to hard work and determination. I do not like to be beaten, I do not like my body to have control. I am in control of my body.

Ms. Namita Nayyar:
Advice and motivational words to the inspiring and budding fashion model girls, who all are your fans and shall like to know from you for their climb to the ladder of success in the field of modeling?

Ms. Katie Knowles:
My words of advice are be yourself and stand out. At photoshoots and pageant auditions I stand out like a sore thumb, I am using Glamsticks and I am disabled I don’t think I can hide among the others. I have learnt to use this to my advantage as I am remembered even if some view it as being remembered for a negative reason.

It is a very hard industry and you need thick skin. Just this month at the pageant someone said I was using my Glamsticks as a prop and surely I didn’t need them. Unfortunately this is ignorance that I deal with daily and have learnt to reply with decorum and grace. I won’t lower myself to that attitude. You have to enjoy it and I mean genuinely enjoy it and do it for the right reasons. I know people say be yourself but I mean it, you want people to want you not something you think you should be. Be yourself and stay true to who you are, for example I don’t shoot nudes or glamour or anything like that as that isn’t the route I want to go down plus I am training to be a solicitor and that wouldn’t look favourably. Don’t take things personally, sometimes you don’t get things because that isn’t the look they want, trust me I’ve heard it before being a disabled model. As one door closes another one opens.


Ms. Namita Nayyar: You have been associated as a model for “Models of Diversity” – a company that campaign for more diversity within the modelling industry. Tell us more about this endeavor of your?

Ms. Katie Knowles:
Models of Diversity has opened my eyes to modelling. They welcomed me with open arms as a disabled model and got me involved in walking the catwalk for the Ideal Home Show and various photoshoots for charities and promotion.

Most recently a shoot for our tour we are embarking on in the UK to promote diversity in the fashion and media industry. Disabled people aren’t represented in shops for example and we want to make that change, we have a petition to take to parliament and have MP backing. I am very grateful to be one of the four women on the tour as this is very important to me. Until I got ill I had no idea about the lack of diversity in this industry I really am shocked and I want to be part of this change. Angel Sinclair the founder and the other members of MOD have supported me in everything I have done, they are trying to push me further and support whatever is next on my agenda. Having this support makes things I approach feel a little easier knowing that regardless I have things I can still achieve.

Ms. Namita Nayyar:
Modelling is all about bold photo shoots. How you are so body confident and advice to your compatriots?

Ms. Katie Knowles: Funnily enough I wasn’t body confident when I was younger after I couldn’t take part in sports as I gained a lot of weight. Until I joined Weight Watchers and lost the weight in a healthy way, with the small shoots I began to embrace my body scars and faults a like. I began to love my body instead of hating it like I had for so long, I had felt betrayed by my body. Now however I felt the best I had in a long time and I chose to go with it and use it.

The first photoshoot I did involved a headshot and just down to my shoulders, glitter and me smiling, my hair was up with a headpiece and I had a strapless bra on. Now I knew that they would get a better picture if I covered my chest with my arms, so I whipped the bra off and began to pose. I felt truly beautiful, I was stripped back and it was a moment I won’t forget, it was so empowering. I love the big bold crazy shoots, like the one I shot with Rebecca Raistrick where I had a tarantula on my face. I was not phased and enjoyed every moment with ‘Stitch’ the spider, I like to try new things and I don’t show fear. I believe I’ve now got confidence inside and out and that comes across in pictures thankfully. My advice is be yourself, act natural and enjoy it. Think positively, these things don’t happen all the time and most importantly smile and love the skin you are in.

Ms. Namita Nayyar:
What you wish to say about the website and message for its visitors?

Ms. Katie Knowles: is a website I was extremely keen on getting involved in. Fitness and sports are still a massive part of my life as are keeping healthy and looking after yourself. I had to totally re evaluate and re adapt my life after I got ill and health and fitness are something that apart from being essential to me I am passionate about. Even if I can’t physically takes part I can still watch, I am so so so excited to be watching the rugby world cup in September at the stadium. I want women and girls to know that even if you have a setback you MUST pick yourself back up. Disability can stop your life but not for me, I used it to my advantage and got my life started. Illness or not looking after yourself and keeping yourself well is so important be it changing something in your diet or trying a new shampoo, just do it! what are you waiting for?!

To know the latest about Katie Knowles, check her out on social media:

Women Fitness Team thanks Katie Knowles for giving her valuable time for this interview and quenching the thirst of her fans to know more about her and made this interview happen.


All content on this site is copyright of Women Fitness and no part of any article found on this site may be reproduced without an express permission and highlighted, do follow link crediting or preferably the original page as the source. This interview is exclusive and taken by Namita Nayyar President and should not be reproduced, copied or hosted in part or full anywhere without an express permission.

All Written Content Copyright © 2016 Women Fitness

Exit mobile version