Not much of the equipment at your local gym is going to be geared towards people with disabilities. However, with assistance from staff, or a personal trainer, you can find ways to make the equipment accessible to you. You can modify workouts to fit your needs and find equipment that can be utilized while sitting down. Of course, you should always consult your doctor before beginning a workout regimen.
Even as a wheelchair user, if you are between the ages of 19 – 64, it is still recommended that, to maintain general health, you should participate in 150 minutes, or more, of aerobic activity every week with an additional two or more days of strength exercises.
If you are a manual wheelchair user, it is important to strengthen your back muscles, which going to a gym and working out can help with. When making the pushing motion needed to propel your manual wheelchair, you engage your chest and shoulder muscles. This can cause them to become tight and leave you susceptible to injury. In an effort to help combat this, you can strengthen your back muscles with exercises that simulate a pulling motion, such as a pull-up. It is also important to work the smaller muscles around the chest and shoulders to keep them from becoming weakened due to inactivity. You may find that resistance bands can also be a helpful tool for providing this type of strengthening exercise.
Before joining a gym, consider meeting with the owners or upper management at a few gyms that you may be considering. This not only will help you meet the team there, but also give you a chance to share your needs with them and gain an insight as to how much they are willing to work with you to accommodate your needs.
If you are just starting out, you may want to bring someone to the gym with you. They can help you access equipment and set it up in a way that will work for you. A lot of gyms offer equipment that allows users to simply roll up to it. Of course, there will be some equipment that requires a transfer – this is where you will find that a gym buddy may be helpful – even motivational!
newmobility.com, Accessed: 3/31/17
www.nhs.uk, Accessed: 3/31/17