CrossFit: Helping People with Disabilities Enjoy a Level Playing Field

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Living with a physical disability certainly has its challenges, even when people learn to adapt in admirable ways. Sometimes people who have disabilities become stigmatized or discouraged because others make assumptions about them without really taking time to get to know them and their capabilities. However, those issues can become greatly reduced when people with disabilities are able to participate in activities that make a disability seem irrelevant. For some, one such option is CrossFit.

Some Moves Can Easily Be Adapted

There are many reasons why able-bodied people around the country are drawn to the all-encompassing approach of CrossFit. However, some dedicated instructors have taken time to specifically appeal to people who may be wheelchair-bound or use other types of mobility aids. Although traditional gym equipment is sometimes not wheelchair friendly, some CrossFit gyms have created classes that work with the limitations of people with disabilities.

People With Disabilities Challenge Themselves in a CrossFit Competition

In Texas, one gym held a competition called CrossFit Redefined, where physically disabled participants pushed themselves to the limit and then tried to beat those records.

The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition found that during an average week, over 26 percent of people who have a disability reported being physically inactive. Luckily, programs like the one in Texas are making it easy for those people to prove to themselves and others that CrossFit offers a way for just about everyone to stay fit.

An Adaptive Athlete Becomes a CrossFit Trainer

Stephanie Hammerman is an adaptive athlete who has Cerebral Palsy. Not too long ago, her lifestyle could have fit the statistic mentioned above, thanks to days filled with lots of junk food and not enough activity. After the death of a friend, Hammerman decide it was time to change her ways, and CrossFit offered the opportunity. She learned about it after competing in several handcycling competitions and deciding she needed to get stronger.

On May 3, 2012, she walked into a CrossFit gym for the first time in Boca Raton, FL. There, she met with a trainer who talked about helping her do things she’d previously thought to be physically impossible. Just six months after getting started, Hammerman saw noticeable changes. Today, she’s a CrossFit trainer and travels the country to show others that despite the obstacles associated with Cerebral Palsy, CrossFit has provided life-altering benefits.

Improving Everyday Functionality

Anna Woods is another CrossFit trainer who specializes in working with people with disabilities. Some of her clients have developmental impairments such as autism, and others who are not able to walk without assistance.

Woods clarifies that while some CrossFit participants might measure achievements in terms of time, or an amount of weight lifted, her clients celebrate how CrossFit has made their lives better by helping them reach higher levels of functionality. Boxes that offer therapy pool spas are another added incentive as they help ease the transition into higher levels of functionality. Also, many of the athletes look forward to hitting the gym because the time spent there offers a welcome break from the everyday routine.

Equal Opportunity Fitness

Whether CrossFit athletes who have disabilities work out in the company of people who have similar impairments or are able-bodied is irrelevant. In addition to enjoying all the benefits that are already well-known to anyone involved in a CrossFit program, disabled participants get the advantage of demonstrating how a disability doesn’t have to prevent a person from getting and staying fit.

That’s especially true if someone is getting guidance from a qualified CrossFit trainer who has experience working with differently-abled people, or is at least willing to patiently adapt movements as needed. If more CrossFit gyms follow the lead of the establishments and trainers mentioned here, it’ll go a long way to emphasize how anyone and everyone can benefit from the CrossFit method, regardless of physical limitations.

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