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Adaptive and Inclusive

You may have heard me say that I am an Adaptive and Inclusive trainer but you may not be sure what that really means. What is adaptive and what does it mean to be inclusive? An adaptive athlete is an athlete with a permanent impairment that causes a limitation which affects work capacity. There are various categories in the adaptive world, seated, standing upper, lower and neuro. Within these groups existed all sorts of variants. If you’ve been around the CrossFit world long enough, you might remember Kevin Ogar, the strong man of the adaptive world. An adaptive and inclusive trainer is a trainer who has learned through the Adaptive Training Academy, ways to adapt workouts for adaptive athletes, in particular but now have more tools in their pockets to adapt, scale, or modify workouts for all athletes.

People often ask, “why did you want to be an Adaptive Trainer?” For starters, I am an adaptive athlete… yes, I know I may appear to be fully able-bodied, but I am not. A few years ago, I woke up incredibly sick, I couldn’t hear, the world was foggy and moving was painful. I felt like my body was destroying itself. I no longer felt human, I felt like a science experiment. This was months after my mother passed and I couldn’t understand why now my body was fighting me too and why doctors didn’t believe anything I was telling them. After months of doctors appointments, I was diagnosed with multiple chronic and auto-immune diseases. I had been training to compete in Olympic Lifting and had a few competitions under my belt, and I thought athletic pursuits were over. They were until I was taught to speak for myself, by learning to be open and honest with what is happening in my body not just to myself, but to people around me. I had to learn to tell people my limits and to not accept less than what I can do from myself that meant no more excuses.

Earlier this year, I was introduced to the Adaptive Training Academy. In this course, I learned how to move in an effective manner for my body and how to teach others to move within their own limitations. Now I can do any workout put in front of me with just some small changes. For example, I struggle with my equilibrium and can’t go to the ground and come back up without losing my balance. That’s ok. Burpees are the best example of this. I just use a box, I’ll push-up to a box, then jump up, sometimes I will just use the box as a stationary object to put my focus on, oftentimes I’ll touch it to find my balance again. It helps me to not have to stop, keeping a high heart rate without the fear of passing out. Sometimes I will do a full burpee, because as an adaptive athlete I still need to train full range of motion and functional activities. Falling, unfortunately, is a common occurrence with my diseases and what is a burpee… falling and getting back up.

How many times have you hopped on to Zen Planner (or walked into the gym), seen the workout and gone… “oh my shoulder hurts just looking at that?” raise your hand high or just not come in? No longer are we using those reasons for not coming into the gym. Being an Adaptive trainer means, I have also been trained in how to help able-bodied athletes (that likely means you.) move around injuries. Remember that time you sprained your ankle and didn’t come to the gym for 3 weeks? Well, we still could have gotten work in. Adaptive fitness is all about ensuring everything we do in the gym is transferable to the real world, that is true for able-bodied athletes as well. We are learning how to be more functional in day to day life. The goal is to keep you in the gym and keep your intensity high!

What does this mean for you? It means that whatever you are feeling, whatever is holding you back, whatever your limits are … there is a way to ADAPT your movements to get the most out of your training that day. Our mission statement reads “Everyone is Born To Move, and as fitness leaders, we stand United to this cause: To inspire personal growth, and build an inclusive community of strong, healthy, and capable individuals.” Seize your birthright. Be adaptable. Let’s move!

– Coach Shawn

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