Adaptive fitness makes working out accessible to everyone
For Elijah Alexander, getting his weekly dose of exercise can be tough. But Theresa Alvarez is there to please.
“Having that aspect of moving your body, and knowing that’s such a vital part of you becoming healthier, we want to make that fun,” Alvarez said.
St. Christopher Fitness is an adaptive fitness studio, which means it works with people with disabilities.
What do you want to know
- Adaptive fitness makes workouts accessible to people of different abilities
- St. Christopher Fitness in Clifton Park specializes in adaptive fitness
- Each workout is designed for each client based on wants and needs
Six-year-old Elijah has autism and always comes to class full of energy. It’s Theresa’s job to channel that energy into workouts that she says will get Elijah’s whole body moving.
“We want to make sure each program is individualized and meets their wants and needs,” Alvarez said. “So we make sure to pay very close attention and give that undivided attention to each one of them.”
Just across the room, Theresa’s husband, Jomilson, works out with Sean Fultz, going through extensive basic training.
Sean, who has cerebral palsy, plays for the local sledge hockey team, the Sled Warriors. With a gold medal on the line at Sean’s next tournament, it’s Jomilson’s job to prepare him.
“It’s a lot of drills and conditioning for him to build that stamina to be able to put other high performers on the ice,” Jomilson Alvarez said, “especially being one of the older guys on the ice. ice cream, but a very hard worker..”
As Sean hits the boards to increase his strength, his trainer motivates him with every hit.
Jomilson is one of Sean’s biggest supporters, counting him out with every rehearsal.
“Muhammad Ali said you don’t count repetitions until he burns. And I take advantage of that mindset to push my individuals to understand that they are stronger than they are. think,” Jomilson Alvarez said.
Theresa’s brother Mark, who has been diagnosed with autism, inspired the Alvarezes to open the adaptive gym. The two started training his younger brother over a year ago to get him active, and the change it created in Mark’s life inspired them.
“We discussed one night, ‘this is something we can do more of.’ Because being sedentary in the special needs community almost torments them in a way and it spreads like rapid fire, and that’s something we want to change,” said Theresa Alvarez.
A year later, their client list has grown from 1 to 12, giving everyone the opportunity to move and have fun.
“We’re making it an exclusive, home environment that they can come to,” Theresa Alvarez said. “They can truly be themselves, as they have a great experience helping them achieve their health and fitness goals.”