Man in a wheelchair participating in a Kakana class.
Fitness, Lifestyle & Culture

Time to eliminate the idea that adapted fitness is therapy

Why is Adapted Fitness often linked to Therapy, Doctors, or other Medical Practitioners?

Is it because:

A: There is a naivety in the field of disabilities with adaptive sports / adaptive fitness / adaptive recreation?

B: Because society thinks if you are not “able bodied” then you need to be fixed via Therapy or a Doctor?

C: Because there is a misconception that people with disabilities are not able to function on their own without Medical Professionals fixing or instructing us? (People seem to think that those of us with disabilities aren’t able to exercise, outside of physical therapy.)

It may be all of the above, part of the above, but it is certainly none of the above! Exercising and taking a fitness journey is not the same as scheduling physical therapy.

They are two separate activities, that can work off each other and are not interchangeable, but somehow became interchangeable when referring to adapted fitness.

We could talk about the dual processing theory of implicit and explicit attitudes toward individuals with disabilities. We can write down the definition of both and let you see how they differ. We can also explain the difference between a fitness instructor and a physical therapist. But all of that is easily Googleable.

Instead, let’s talk about adapted fitness options (what these options do to the psychology of the world) and Star Power.

Kakana is an Adapted Fitness Platform. There are others like us that will help blaze a path to dismantle the absurd misrepresentation of adapted fitness being physical therapy. But how? We create workouts, platforms, gyms, and environments that are avenues for fitness. We are not soft, there aren’t any individuals encased in bubbles. We are unapologetically accessible first and we are engaging. No different than any other fitness venue.

Except for one thing: We have a ton of work to do to reverse the misconception that disability means “breakable.” Our environments have to be even better. We cannot lower our expectations even the smallest amount. And we have to hold bigger brands to the highest standard that we are going to hold ourselves to. Do not tiptoe around the edges, go all in or please escort yourself from the conversation, and that’s the nice way of saying it!

Hire instructors that have passion, desire, and know-how. People who can electrify those in your environment. They need to be able to bring that person back daily. A fitness journey is not once per week action, like therapy. It’s daily. It doesn’t have to be intense every day and there are rest days, but our products need to excite and get people popping off about it all over the world, on social media, and in their daily lives.

That brings us to Star Power. Big ups to NBC for airing full coverage of this summer’s Paralympics in Tokyo. Dial-in, because you will see some dynamic athletes competing at the highest level. Some of our instructors at Kakana are trialing to be a part of those games and when they return as Olympic Representatives of the United States we have Star Power. The ones who blow up and win gold, need to be on Wheaties Boxes and commercials. Be loud and take what’s yours.

But…

You don’t have to be a Paralympian to have Star Power. Bring people to your environment who can engage, excite, motivate and be ruthless to your people. Milk toast isn’t it, that’s what got us to this therapy/fitness connection in the first place. Who is going to move the needle and show the world that this workout is no joke, whether you have a disability or not? Big personalities will make waves and the bigger the waves, the more we break down those connections that the disability world is soft and breakable.

The fitness companies out there, that are not accessible, do this already. It’s our turn. Time to attach a jet pack to accessibility, and let the 1 billion-plus community have options in adapted fitness that give them a reason to enjoy their fitness journey.

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