A man in a wheelchair using a handcycle exercising to a Kakana crosscycle class on his computer.

Adapted Fitness: What it is & what it is not

What is Adapted Fitness or an Accessible Workouts?

•Is adapted fitness someone sitting in a chair and working out while seated?
•Does it include closed captioning on a screen?
•Perhaps an instructor who has studied Accessible Fitness, instructing someone with a disability?

There is a lack of awareness (at best) about accessibility with fitness and adaptations to fitness. It certainly does not have a definition widely known to the general public.

Does the world understand?

When you leave the disability world and talk to a corporate entity or gym, you get some wild answers. Just this week, we were told by a venue that they had adapted fitness with, “We have workouts for Seniors and also Parkinson’s specific workouts.” A second entity said, “We have a few workouts that are seated, inside the platform we already have.

Let’s start with the definition of “fitness,” the condition of being physically fit, healthy, and more specifically, the ability to perform aspects of sports, occupations, and daily activities. There are hundreds of different subsets under fitness from Boutique Cycling and Crossfit to Running and beyond, so when someone describes “fitness,” they have a lot of options and need to narrow down what they actually do.

What is Adapted Fitness?

First, define what it is not. It is not one type of adapted workout, for example, Senior’s workouts, that work for the entire Disability Community. It’s not strictly seated workouts or throwing captions on a screen. It is not 3 workouts inside a library of 1,000. And it’s most certainly not, a “do what you can” initiative inside of a workout constructed for Individuals without disabilities.

Adapted Fitness is a workout one can do, period. A workout that can be adapted to meet anyone’s needs.

One job of Kakana and other Adapted Fitness entities, including Disability Advocates, is to show that access to becoming fit and healthy should be commonplace and not unattainable. This will then move companies and other fitness brands to become inclusive. It needs to be part of the focus and should not be a minuscule subsection of a bigger platform where you send individuals with disabilities.

It’s also not one type of workout. There is Peloton, Soul Cycle, Mirror, Tonal, Tempo, P90X, Fitness on Demand, Plank, FitOn, Orange Theory, Bar Method, Crunch, Planet Fitness, Gold’s Gym, Crossfit, Yoga, Pilates, and we could keep going. Those are all different types of workouts that attract a different type of person who is interested in that style of workout.

Let’s look at our workout line-up at Kakana, which is the mindset that there should be a range of types of accessible workouts (and not senior workouts for 25–35-year-old badass men and women).

Crosscycle: the only boutique adapted cycling class in the world that takes the Peloton/Soulcycle idea and makes it accessible. It’s a mix of Cardio and Strength.

Strength: We have two Strength Instructors that take different approaches. Not all Strength training is the same.

Cardio Boxing: A Cardio Shadow Boxing class that works on your cardiovascular system, without blowing up your shoulders and brings a different take to Cardio than jumping on a Handcycle.

Yoga: The mind-body connection is an important one and one that can provide a much-needed balance to your fitness journey.

Meditation: In the same mold as Yoga, you can regulate breathing and “focus on you” instead of outside forces.

All of these classes are crafted to bring individuals together to workout. The bar was not lowered, the instructors do not take it easy, and they are engaging. 

If Femita Ayanbeku or Usain Bolt both did the workout, they would both leave getting something out of it. 

Over the next several articles we will interview a disability advocate, talk about identifying adapted fitness, and discuss the next steps in the accessible fitness and adapted fitness world. Follow along to learn about how fitness can and should be accessible.

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