Gyms should be inclusive, a sanctuary for anyone wanting to improve themselves physically and mentally – but are they disability friendly? Discover here.
Gyms have come a long way in terms of accessibility and inclusivity. But the evidence suggests that people with disabilities still feel they’re not as inclusive as they could be. 41.6% of people reported finding it tricky to access in-person services. In the UK, for example, there are over 7,200 fitness and health clubs, but only a staggering 68 of them are accessible to people with disabilities. In the US, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires fitness centers to have accessibility features like ramps, but that’s as far as it goes.
While some gyms are making strides in this area, many are falling short in providing a disability-friendly environment. Below, we’ll explore the obstacles and how the fitness industry strives to create services that overcome them.
The Biggest Challenges
One of the biggest challenges facing people with disabilities when it comes to fitness is the lack of equipment and facilities that can accommodate their specific needs. Many gyms have not invested in equipment designed for people with disabilities, such as hand cycles, seated ellipticals, or accessible weight machines. That means that people with disabilities might not have the chance to perform the same exercises as other gym-goers or may need to modify workouts to suit their needs. As mentioned above, the ADA ensures people with disabilities can enter the gym, but what can they do when they’re in there?
It’s a shame that everything else related to fitness doesn’t discriminate against disabilities – anyone with the idea of buying steroids in Canada can, and anyone who wants to purchase workout gear can, but accessing the facilities that allow people to put them to use is lacking. A Lack Of Staff Education
Another challenge is the lack of staff training on how to work with people with disabilities. Many staff members may not know how to assist someone with a physical disability using equipment or may not be familiar with techniques to modify exercises for those with disabilities. Typically, personal trainer courses don’t delve into the world of disabilities – trainers have to take additional courses to understand the specific needs.
What Do Gyms And Health Clubs Need To Do?
Gyms and health clubs have a lot of work to do. There might be obstacles for them, like the financial investment of new equipment or training staff, but that shouldn’t prohibit the desire to be more inclusive. There are options such as working with disability organizations to understand needs and working to remove any physical barriers that prevent access. One example of a man aiming to change the game is a powerlifting champion Javeno McLean from the UK. He opened his gym, J7 Health Center, a purpose-built center designed specifically to train individuals with disabilities after he learned about the obstacles to fitness faced.
There’s no denying that some gyms are doing their part to be disability-friendly, but many are falling short. Considering the initial statistic, 7132 gyms in the UK aren’t meeting the requirements. Gyms must recognize the importance of accessibility and inclusivity and take the necessary steps to ensure that all individuals can participate in fitness activities regardless of their abilities. There’s a plethora of information online relating to this – gyms simply need to research, adapt, and be more inclusive.