Over the last month there has been a ton of change at Faultless Fitness HQ, our Hereford gym.
Because of the way we're constantly analysing our performance, and getting new challenges as new clients come through the door, we decided to really take a look into how we could improve the facility.
One particular thought was that our facility wasn’t particularly accommodating to those clients that had mobility issues. Whilst the free weight sections were able to be adapted to those clients with limb impairment, our metabolic section was not very adaptable.
This was then sharply brought into focus when a new applicant for the program got in touch who had undergone an above knee amputation. After meeting with the client to understand her needs and finding that, like most of our clients, she was an incredibly nice person who just needed someone to give her a hand and a facility that could make her feel at home, we knew then that we needed to make some changes.
The next step was to then investigate the options available to us and asscertain whether these expensive pieces of machinery would provide not only the physiological stressor required to help our new and existing clients, but would also mentally stimulate them. We looked at things like hand bikes and recumbent cycles, the type of things you see in the big gyms, but the overall answer I came up with was that whilst they may have been suitable, and a bit of a “catch all”, they were not mentally stimulating.
Having studied adaptive physical activity at university, I then looked at how we could take exciting bits of kit that aren’t always readily available in everyday scenarios and then adapt them so that they can be utilised by not only “able bodied” clients but will also be readily available for clients who don’t fit within the accepted norms of mobility.
On a side note, you can probably tell I hate labelling someone disabled! There is nothing disabled about people who have a mobility impairment. They operate fine everyday as long as their environment caters for their needs. The disability is found in society's ability to provide the right conditions for these people to be able to operate as they would at home.
With this in mind, I selected the concept2 rowing machines and the concept2 skiergs. Both can be adapted to provide a seated uni or bilateral leg stance for those with leg impairments and our bikes and treadmill can provide lower leg exercise for those with upper body impairments.
Apart from making our Hereford gym facility more inclusive, this now also provides all of our clients with two new options for full body metabolic conditioning, utilising their arms as primary mobilisers rather than legs (for example treadmill and biking!). This provides a completely new dynamic to warm ups and requires endurance in the upper body as well as lower.