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Spinal Cord Injury Update

Fall 2009: Volume 18, Number 3


Accessibility: Frank’s Story

I became eligible to join a gym through a new employer. Being a paraplegic, I knew that I better check it out first to see if there was enough equipment there for me to make a membership worthwhile. Overall, I was disappointed. I could use some of the equipment, but I did not feel as though I would be able to get a good workout (either cardio or strengthening). Since this facility was going to be very convenient for me, I decided to try to get them to purchase some additional equipment.

I did some homework and decided to come at the problem as an advocate for people in wheelchairs. Since the facility itself was fairly new and built to be accessible, I made the case that in order to be truly accessible they should offer equipment that would be usable for anyone with a disability that could get to the gym. After a few emails and calls, I had an appointment with the director and the manager of the facility.

When we met, I brought printouts from the Internet showing the equipment I wanted to recommend. I presented a variety of options: inexpensive vs. expensive, cardio vs. strength, etc. Most of the equipment I had chosen to show them either came with adaptations or required only small changes so non-wheelchair users could also use them, including older individuals or anyone who wanted to focus on the upper body.

The management seemed very receptive to my input. Ultimately, they bought a cardio/strength item (VitaGlide) and a strength item (Challenge Circuit 7000). They also posted signs saying that people with disabilities had priority on these items. I joined the gym after the equipment arrived, and I made sure to follow up by letting them know that I appreciated their efforts and that I loved the equipment.

—Frank Lampard, age 41, T3