It is a normal Monday night around 6 PM at your local gym. Many people just got there from work or are leaving the gym and headed home for dinner. A wheelchair rolled in the gym for his or her Monday night bike ride to cool off from the busy day at work. Some people do not think about this situation often. What is going on in the head of the wheelchair user? I am a wheelchair user, but I am not limited by my physical challenges.
During grade school, I was in fantastic shape, because I was going to my mom’s gym and working out. I had a personal trainer, John J Masacci. I asked him how it felt training people with physical challenges. He answered saying, “When I first met you in 1999, you had an in-the-box mentality at your workout sessions. What I sought to do was innovate and stimulate your interest by designing a training program around your favorite sport, and found as many baseball-related mechanical activities as I could. Since you were a huge Ken Griffin JR. fan, we started by squatting for catching and fielding, running within your walker as best you could while concurrently attempting to quiet your spasticity. We were also able to mainstream some activities like stair climbing and very slow but steady treadmill work, so you could feel like the other members of the club. All in all, I believed it was important to pair you with a trainer who shared your love of movement and willingness to challenge traditional rehabilitative repetitive therapy with something that was joyful and sparked your athletic psyche. Ultimately, you was the architect of your own success and I facilitated that with adaptive activity based on sports.”
For me, I feel I am like any other person who wants to stay in shape. People with physical challenges have life goals and dreams, just like everyone else. I learned that if I want to live the life that I want, the key is to stay as fit as possible. Do not be scared if you see someone at your local gym doing things differently. You just have to have faith that one day you will be able achieve great things too, even if you have physical disabilities.