by Paula Kully –
People are designed to move; no matter our age, size or physical capabilities, our bodies and minds work best when we have regular exercise.
Laura Guido (above, with client Martin Olson) is the Gym Coordinator and Athletic Therapist at MOVE Adaptive Fitness in Victoria. She believes that fitness for people with disabilities is something that is becoming more recognized, popular, and in demand – and MOVE is providing programs to meet these demands. MOVE opened its doors in 2013 with a vision to empower people with physical disabilities to achieve their potential. Members are primarily adults and seniors living with physical disabilities such as spinal cord injury, Parkinson’s disease, neurological conditions and people who have suffered a stroke. Prior to joining, members receive a free initial assessment and individual supportive therapeutic exercise program.
MOVE offers weekly, chair-based group exercise classes, chair yoga, adapted dance and one-on-one assisted exercise therapy by a certified athletic therapist for those who need or prefer individualized attention.
The accessible, drop-in gym is ideal for people who require adapted equipment and assistance in order to remain physically active and healthy. The gym is designed with a floor plan that accommodates wheelchair users and provides equipment transfer assistance to remove the barriers people face at other fitness centres.
Trained volunteers from Camosun College and the University of Victoria’s Kinesiology and Health and Wellness Programs provide assistance to members.
“MOVE is a special place,” says Laura. “We are lucky to have this incredible facility in the area! The members are inspirational and I couldn’t imagine a better place to work.”
If you are looking for some fun, Panorama Recreation Centre in North Saanich has the only accessible waterslide in North America. In fact, the pool facilities at Panorama are fully accessible with change rooms, ramps, and a lift to the waterslide. There is also an elevator to the weight room where some accessible equipment is available.
The staff at Panorama work with Recreation Integration Victoria to adapt as many of their programs as possible. Melanie Alsdorf, the Manager of Program Services at Panorama Recreation says: “We make every effort to adapt a program to fit a patron with a disability, as long as you call ahead so that we can be prepared.”
The Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence, next door to Camosun College’s Interurban Campus, offers accessible equipment and adapted strength and conditioning programs designed for people with mobility limitations. Additionally, you can join the high-intensity wheelchair basketball program.
Likewise, the Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities (CARSA) at the University of Victoria offers programs for youth and adults that include wheelchair sports, spin classes, blind soccer, adapted strength and conditioning, inclusive dance and more.
If you prefer to get moving outside in the fresh air, there are a number of great accessible trails in the region with accessible parking and washrooms such as Island View Beach and Lochside Trail. If you don’t have trail equipment, Recreation Integration Victoria has a fabulous equipment loan program with access to handcycles, wheelchair bike trailers, all-terrain wheelchairs and joggers. Rental rates are exceptionally reasonable at $15 per week and a $100 damage deposit.
With so many options and outstanding facilities on the Saanich Peninsula, barriers continue to be removed and fitness is accessible to everyone and every body.
Photo by Nunn Other Photography.