Published: Sep 08, 2011 2:44 AM EDT
Updated: Sep 08, 2011 3:48 AM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Doctors said he may never walk again. Now he's earning medals and inspiring athletes in Southwest Florida. Next time you think you're too tired to work out, think about Troy Conquest.

Spinning, for most, is a way to burn a few hundred calories. Spinning, for Troy Conquest is freedom.

"This was the only place where I could do what everybody else could do, and feel comfortable," Conquest said.

Troy went to the University of Maine on a full football scholarship, entered the Marine Corps, and later, played pro football in Germany. But in a matter of months, everything changed.
    
"I had Lupus and Transverse Myelitis," Conquest said.

He was paralyzed from the waist down. Doctors feared he may never walk again.

"I attribute it to being like a baby," he said. "You just give in to it, or find another way to do it."

Troy started going to World Gym in Fort Myers. He lifted weights, and one day, tried a spinning class. He says he struggled through his first class. But pedal by pedal, he regained strength in his legs to the point where he not only conquered the class, he's teaching it.

"I was about 65 pounds heavier when I started doing this, and I could barely walk," Conquest said.

At the proud age of 46, he's not slowing down, and he won't let anyone else.

"You look at Troy and say, if he's doing it, i can do it," student Michele Cloos said.

"He's always upbeat, he's always ready to go," friend William Thompson said.

"He's a leader," student Scott Loiacano said.

Troy says his students inspire him to keep pedaling. They say, he inspires them.    
 
"There's always somebody worse off than me so I really can't complain," Conquest said. "It's been a long, long journey, but it's not done yet."

Troy has cycled in several marathons, and most recently, competed the National Veterans Wheelchair Olympics. His next conquest? He's training, and hoping that at age 50, he'll make the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team.