Kensington, Md. — Like most people, individuals with disabilities also need to get fit in order for them to remain healthy. But this is something that communities caring for them overlook most of the time.
Jared Ciner knew that keeping fit is just as important for individuals with disabilities as it is for the rest of the population. And with this in mind, he decided to create the Spirit Club— a fitness club tailored to help everyone become physically fit, including those with disabilities.
According to Ciner:
“Our main focus is the same thing as any other gym, which is to help people be active and healthy. The difference is that we do modify a little bit to make sure that it is right pace for the people we are working with, so that everybody can follow along.”
Ciner, who previously worked for a nonprofit organization helping individuals with disabilities, became concerned when he noticed that many of those with disabilities were physically unhealthy. He told:
“I noticed that the people who I was working with who had disabilities, many of them were very sedentary, did not exercise, struggled with weight issues, and were looking for more physical outlets and more social outlets.”
His experience working with NGOs also gave him an insight of how organized physical programs impact not just the health of the participants, but also their social lives and self-esteems.
He used these experiences to make the Spirit Club more effective for its members.
The club holds interactive fitness classes for its students, and each of the enrollees can bring a caregiver along with them. The students participate in partnered workout routines where they learn flexibility, strength, agility, speed, and balance, and are encouraged by instructors to eat right.
Two of the assistant trainers at the gym also have disabilities themselves.
“[A] really important part of what we are doing is making sure that these opportunities are available to all people, regardless their physical ability, mental ability, also their financial situation.”
Source: June Soh: Voice of America: Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit