How your gym can serve people with disabilities

When was the last time you had a person with a disability in your gym? If you’re like most fitness business owners, it’s probably been a long time – if ever.

You almost certainly remember the nonstop media coverage of the Olympics this past summer; did you happen to catch any of the Paralympic Games, though? (Me neither – it’s not covered.)

Disability affects every group of people on the planet – there are people with physical and intellectual disabilities in every country, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, religion and gender – and the community of people with disabilities is vast; yet they are almost completely left behind when it comes to health and wellness. Yoga during pregnancy 2nd trimester Barriers that contribute to low levels of participation in athletics by people with disabilities include transport difficulties, lack of knowledge of available aides or resources, lack of expertise, poor community facilities (and lack of access to them) and low expectations from peers.


According to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, “children with disabilities have lower levels of cardiorespiratory fitness, lower levels of muscular endurance, and higher rates of obesity than typical children.” The same can be said for adults with disabilities as well. Face yoga exercises poses The report continues, “In addition to the physiologic benefits of decreased body fat and increased fitness overall, regular physical activity for children with disabilities has been shown to help in controlling or slowing the progression of the chronic disease (and) improving overall health and function.”

You know all of the benefits of physical activity – you’ve made it your life’s work! – so it should come as no surprise that exercise has a host of advantages for children and adults with disabilities as well. Yoga video download janelle I’m certain you’re not actively excluding the disability community from participating in your gym or school, but unless you’re actively working to include them, they may not realize they’re welcome. Yoga dvds 2015 But how do you do that?

The North Carolina Office on Disability and Health wrote a report on best practices to include people with disabilities in your gyms; it includes these simple guidelines:

Remember that any effort to address the needs of people with disabilities is an opportunity to market and expand your membership to a growing population.

Physical and intellectual disabilities span a wide variety of conditions that can affect walking, seeing, hearing, speaking and thinking to varying degrees, and they can be temporary or permanent. Yoga for dummies daily dozen Currently up to 20 percent of the population in this country is affected by some type of disability. Yoga brighton sa This is a very large, untapped market!

How wide are the doorways in your facility? Current law provides that they extend 32 inches to accommodate standard wheelchairs. Yoga richmond il (Note that a wheelchair-friendly facility is also a stroller-friendly facility; becoming physically welcoming to people with disabilities makes you welcoming to parents of small children as well!) Walk through your gym and note any obvious environmental barriers; if possible, do it again with someone who uses a wheelchair or walker.

Go beyond the minimum requirements of the law to incorporate principles of universal design to make your facility usable to many more people.

Bear in mind that as the Baby Boomer population ages, the number of people in the U.S. Yoga richmond hill ga with disabilities will rapidly increase. Ananda yoga center palo alto Older people are routinely reminded that staying fit will help them age better; consider how your building brings them in.

Purchase or replace exercise equipment with types of equipment that offer more features which make it usable for those with varying degrees of ability.

Are any of your classes taught by instructors who use wireless microphones? Consider adding supplemental equipment that ‘loops’ the audio to hearing aides, so that every participant can catch the instructions. Anusara yoga poses Even if you only offer one class a week that incorporates this looping, people who use hearing aides will know that’s a class where they can fully participate.

Treat people with disabilities as you would any other member, taking into account individual needs and utilizing the many exercise options that may be available.

My brother, Christian, is on the autism spectrum; when he was in junior high and high school, his “buddy” Jared (a paid care provider) took him to the gym almost every day. Yoga poses for weight loss and flexibility Christian had a paid membership as part of our family membership, and the gym provided a free membership to Jared as a support person. Yoga space nw Christian made a ton of new friends at the gym, and now there are several other people with intellectual disabilities who work out there with care providers.

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