Backwards? Cʼmon, man.

Wheelchair Exercise Machine

Cʼmon, man? Are you kidding? Your health club took on a backwards philosophy, instead of being progressive? I guess I shouldnʼt be surprised, fitness is not the only area we as Americans have failed to be forward-thinking - Cʼmon, man, at a health club that costs me nearly $100 per month, my experience should get better, not worse.

So, admittedly itʼs been a few months since Iʼve been to my gym for a workout. The last time I was there they were undergoing some slight renovations to the lobby and locker rooms. Just this last week my wife told me; “it looks totally different since you were there last, they got new equipment in.” I actually found myself a bit excited to check it out...That was, until I got there this morning. Allow me to sum up this mornings experience in three words -- Appalled, Disappointed, Backwards.

If you can believe it, this morning I went to this clubs, so called, most “accessible” club of all their locations throughout southeast Wisconsin. Needless to say just became less accessible with their new equipment “update.”

Allow me to go off on a little tangent here. The only thing I can see that makes this club “accessible,” is that it has one ramp from the cardio to the strength area. Whoopdy Doo. Watch out. I can count on one hand the number of “accessible” pieces of equipment, not one of which is specifically designed for those with disABILITIES. In fact, there is not one automatic or push button door. Nothing special in the lockers rooms. And, I was only able to get my “sportchair” through one door.

Ok, back on topic. When we renovate or replace arenʼt we supposed to move forward? Is it so difficult to take into consideration those with disABILITIES? Hey, guess what, Iʼm one of your members, Iʼm disABLED, and you just took away a few of my options, and nearly every option that was adaptable to other potential customers with disABILITIES. Why is America so far behind? In Europe youʼll find the IFI - Inclusive Fitness Initiative. The IFI is the reason that American based companies like Life Fitness and Cybex have adapted various pieces of their current equipment to be accessible for those with disABILITIES. I have yet to see any of this equipment in a member based health club.

Hereʼs a bit of good news -- Even before the IFI, a local South Milwaukee based fitness manufacturer, Magnum Fitness, came out with their ADA compliant weight station -- sadly, itʼs not a hot seller. One piece! One piece of accessible equipment and most clubs simply refuse to find the square footage to provide greater accessibility. Why? Are those with disABILITIES a lesser person? Do we not deserve to exercise? Do you think we donʼt desire to exercise? Allow me to clue you in -- We could and would be bonafide members of your clubs. The problem, you fail to provide us the opportunity, especially an adequate opportunity that makes the membership dues worth the money. If your club fails to be accessible and adaptable, why would I pay membership dues when nearly all I can do is watch the “able-bodied” public workout? Last I checked you cannot exercise by osmosis.

Did I mention that they renovated the locker room a bit...Still two steps, why not a ramp? Is it that difficult? Allow me to answer for you, itʼs not.

So, yeah, Iʼm appalled. Iʼm appalled that my $97 per month health club has chosen to move backwards, not forwards. Iʼm appalled that they havenʼt chosen a path of social responsibility. Iʼm disappointed that they failed to recognize a population that makes up nearly 11% of our country. Iʼm disappointed that as a member with a disABILITY my club just became less accessible. Iʼll tell you what Iʼm not, and thatʼs surprised.

Do we need The Ability Center? After today it appears we need it more now then ever before.


Damian, that's why what you are doing is so crucial. I'm hoping it may even inspire other health and fitness clubs to think about accessibility — true accessibility! Go TAC!

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