That quote is from Nike founder Bill Bowerman and it’s inspired many people to get active. If you think your disability is keeping you from exercising, there are some amazing people who want to change your mind. From chair yoga to inclusive fitness centers, the right workout is waiting for you.
Inclusive fitness is a growing field, and a few trainers and instructors are leading the charge. Retired NFL linebacker David Vobora retooled his gym and training programs after meeting retired Staff Sgt.Travis Mills, a quadruple amputee. Vobora created the Adaptive Training Foundation, taking his skills in training elite athletes and focusing them on the crucial gap between basic rehabilitation and high performance functioning through personalized training. Matthew Sanford, a paraplegic since age 13, discovered hatha yoga and became an instructor. He opened one of the first accessible yoga studios and developed a teacher training program called Opening Yoga to Everyone, an adaptive yoga program. Watch Sanford and his students practice in his accessible studio.
Watching these people in action, you might decide that you have no excuse for putting off your next workout. But where do you start? How do you find an accessible fitness center? Are there online programs you can tap into?
- Several NIDILRR-funded centers and projects have resources to help you and your community:
- Check out ways to create inclusive wellness, fitness, and recreation programs from the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Community Inclusion of Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities.
- Add wellness and physical activity with the NEW-R program and other resources from the RRTC on Psychiatric Disabilities and Co-Occurring Medical conditions. (Learn how the NEW-R program is helping people fight obesity and embrace wellness)
- The learn how to create and stick to a fitness plan or create a home physical activity plan with the RTC on Community Living.
- Watch experienced wheelchair users demonstrating exercises from the RTC on the Secondary Conditions in Spinal Cord Injury and MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital.
- You might also check out the great resources from the National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability (NCHPAD) including
- 14-weeks to a healthier you – a program to get your started on your fitness path,
- ChampionRX – a cross-fit type program for people who want to take their fitness to the next level, and
- Articles and factsheets on every kind of sport (indoors, outdoors, winter, summer, etc.) you might be curious about!
Are you a trainer, fitness guru, or gym owner? Consider following Vobora and Sanford and opening your programs and facilities to people with disabilities.
- Contact the NIDILRR-funded Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Interactive Exercise Technologies and Exercise Physiology to find out about accessibility standards for fitness equipment, research in activity monitors for wheelchair users, and a tool to help you evaluate the inclusiveness and usability of your facilities.
- Join the Inclusive Fitness Coalition and learn about certification programs and other resources to support the full inclusion of adults and kids with disabilities in sport and play.
Do you have a favorite workout program that meets your needs as an athlete with a disability? Have you found a great accessible gym, park, or trail? Please share them in the comments below!
Please note: You should always talk to your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program. Be safe, be well, and be strong!