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Access to Fitness

While Stuart is powdering his nose, I thought I'd pop in to tell you about a session I went to this afternoon on inclusive fitness. With the catchy title "Access to Fitness: Part 1: Addressing Architectural, Attitudinal and Programmatic Barriers," the session included information on, well, architectural, attitudinal and programmatic barriers.

It was lead by a number of presenters including Chris Mackey, healthy communities coordinator for the North Carolina Office on Disability and Health, and a whole slew of talented people from The University of Montana's Rural Institute and the University of Illinois-Chicago's National Center on Physical Activity and Disability. Each spoke on their own research, programs, experiences and job roles, which was quite interesting.

Because it's impossible to detail everything I learned, I'll give you what I think the most important facts were for health clubs owners. (And I highly encourage you to attend future Club Industry shows to hear the good stuff first-hand!)

• One great tool for making your fitness facility ADA compliant is the Complete ADA Building Blocks Web Course. You can find it free at Really, who doesn't love free?

• Clubs should partner and develop relationships with citizens with disabilities of all kinds. As Chris says, “They are potential members!”

• To increase disabled people's access to getting healthy, two things must be done: the environment has to be enabled (aka designed appropriately with accessible equipment) and the person has to be empowered. You can't have one without the other.

• According to national data, approximately twice as many adults with a disability (25.6 percent) were physically inactive during the preceding week than adults without a disability (12.8 percent).

• Typical barriers to fitness are no wheelchair transfer area, no warning texture or ledge, no grab bars and no elevator.

• Many accessibility issues can be resolved with a low-cost fix. Adding an accessibility line in your budget can help pay for larger issues.

Hopefully that gave you something to chew on this Wednesday evening. Now I'm off to the opening reception!

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