Ask most people of the challenges they face following through with an exercise program and you’re likely to hear the common complaints: Lack of motivation,
being too tired, not having enough time, too busy. Or as someone recently told me, “My get up and go has gotten up and gone”.
But imagine having the unique challenge of not being able to, literally, “get up and go”. This is the unique challenge of the more than 56 million disabled individuals in the U.S. alone, many who are wheelchair users.
For many involved in the mainstream fitness industry, the term “wheelchair exerciser” may conjure up images of someone in a physical therapy setting in the process of rehabilitation from injury or disability. But consider the wheelchair user who wants to participate in regular exercise for weight loss or muscle gain. Or those with the burning desire to compete in a favorite sport. What services meet their unique challenges?
Fortunately, there are many options that those in wheelchairs have in pursuing fitness goals:
Access to facilities
The Americans with Disabilities Act signed in 1990 helped increase the availability of wheelchair-accessible facilities, including health clubs. As more and more private health clubs follow suit, individuals who use wheelchairs will have increasing options.
However, access alone does not ensure that wheelchair exercisers will have the appropriate equipment to meet their strength training and cardiovascular needs. It’s easy enough to modify certain upper-body exercises with dumbbells and resistance bands for a seated exercise, but most machines simply will not accommodate a wheelchair. Effective aerobic training can be even harder to accomplish, since most cardiovascular machines require use of the legs to raise the heart rate.
Adaptive Exercise Machines
Fortunately, there is a large number of adaptable exercise machines available to the exerciser and to health clubs that choose to offer adaptive exercise options:
The Endorphin Corporation
Manufacturer of wheelchair accessible fitness machines for both cardiovascular and strength conditioning, including the hand cycle and tabletop bike.
Access To Recreation
Exercise equipment and recreational products for the wheelchair-bound such as all terrain wheelchairs, pool lifts and more.
Sells wheelchairs of all types. Contains resource section.
Adaptive Fitness Personal Trainers
Finally recognizing the need for fitness professionals to be knowledgeable about the needs of wheelchair exercisers, a number of personal trainer organizations offer specialized certifications and/or programs in Adaptive Fitness. This is good news for those who desire professional instruction by a trainer who is knowledgeable of special needs. The following are a few organizations that offer either certification program in Adaptive Fitness or specialized education:
International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)/Specialist in Adaptive Fitness
American Association for Active Lifestyles & Fitness
Exercise videos, TV Programs and Manuals
Some may feel more comfortable working out in the privacy of their own home rather than travelling to the gym. For those searching for in-home instruction, resources such as exercise videos, TV programs and printed instruction manuals can help the wheelchair user increase activity levels, lose fat and gain muscle mass:
Classic armchair exercises developed by fitness expert Betty Switkes. Includes videotapes for aerobic, strength, yoga, and “gentle” formats.
Maria Serrao’s Workout Tapes
http://www.dropbears.com/amazon emplate_movies ype_browse/mode_290298
Actress and model Maria Serrao, in a wheelchair since the age of 5, stars in a series of exercise videotapes including: Everyone Can Exercise-Cardio Challenge, Toning & Strengthening, Real Life Fitness-Body Sculpting, Real Life Fitness- Fat Burning. 해외축구중계