What is Adaptive CrossFit?

When trying to explain Crossfit to someone who knows nothing about it, there are usually a few main principles and values discussed. These include constantly varied functional movements to enable people to become fitter and stronger to tackle challenges of everyday life and to develop life-long health and wellbeing. This is now becoming increasingly recognised to include adaptive athletes, many of who strive to be as functionally independent as possible but are often restricted with accessing able-bodied fitness facilities and sport as a result of their disability or impairment.

An ‘Adaptive Athlete’ includes individuals with physical or neurological disorders, amputees, wheelchair users and other long-term injuries. Adaptive Crossfit focuses on developing lifelong health, wellbeing and fitness to prepare athletes of any ability to live independently. It is unique to all other sports because it can be tailored to the individual needs and capabilities through structured programming within a group or one to one, using various skill combinations and devices/equipment. In addition, Crossfit brings together likeminded people who enjoy the process of becoming stronger and healthier regardless of disability or impairment, providing a community of support for each individual. The atmosphere and energy during a workout with a group of people cheering until the last person finishes again is like no other sport, which not only improves health, fitness and independence, it builds friendships and social interaction that can transfer into everyday life.

An example of how influential Crossfit can be with improving health and fitness is adaptive athlete Alec Zirkenbach. He discovered the benefits of Crossfit following a tragic injury serving in the navy, leaving him hospitalised for months requiring multiple surgeries to regain his loss of function and sensation in his legs as a result of a spinal cord injury. Alec found rehabilitation and recovery a demoralising process, until he joined Crossfit. Despite the paraplegia and loss of function, Crossfit enabled him to rehabilitate, contributing significantly to his recovery in terms of walking again and living independently. He returned to work and is now an advocate for Adaptive Crossfit and its use in rehabilitation. Below is a summary in his own words of how Crossfit influence his recovery:

“I had excellent care through traditional rehabilitation.  But rehab has it limits when it comes to actually training an individual to return to their previous fitness and functional level.  Rehab has restrictions for a purpose since it’s meant to make you “functional” again (i.e. sit, stand, locomotion, feed yourself, bath, etc.).  But that definition of functional is less than what I, and most active people, consider to be truly functional (and most often happy).

Crossfit training has the potential to train people and elevate their fitness back to, and beyond, their level of fitness prior to an injury by focusing on functional movements that have real-world application.  Crossfit training can continue the work of rehabilitation and can provide a way to increase fitness (and/or maintain) for the rest of the athlete’s life.

After leaving rehab, I was “functional” but not happy, nor truly fit.  Crossfit training and the supportive nature of the community is what brought me back to, and beyond, my previous fitness level.  I am more fit now, albeit disabled, than I was prior to my injuries.  I owe that to Crossfit training.”

The above explains why I have developed Gain Adaptive, to make Crossfit accessible for all adults in the local area who have a disability or impairment to increase in their health and fitness and is combining my knowledge and expertise of my profession, an Occupational Therapist, with my love of Crossfit. Gain Adaptive within the facility of Gain Fitness along with the coaching expertise and community atmosphere has the perfect foundations to be able to provide this unique service.

This is where I need your help and support…

As well as spreading the word about Gain Adaptive, I have applied to the Aviva Community Fund for funding to purchase specialised equipment, such as ski ergs (for athletes who use assistive devices or a wheelchair), adapted seats and handles for rowing machines, adapted benches and blocks for weightlifting, and a range of exercise bands, straps and weights for a range of impairments to increase accessibility. The money would also contribute to the building of an accessible shower and changing facility to allow adaptive athletes the space to attend to their hygiene needs in privacy and with dignity, which would also be accessed by those in the wider community.

For the application to be considered for the funding, the general public have to vote for Gain Adaptive. Only the projects with the most votes will be considered for the funding. Therefore I am asking if you along with your family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues to follow the link below and vote for Gain Adaptive. All you need to do is sign up with an email address, which will only take 2 minutes. Each person has 10 votes and all votes can go towards Gain Adaptive. Voting closes on the 20th November 2018.

If you like further information about Gain Adaptive, please get in contact with myself via the website or email: rachel@gainfitness.co.uk.

Thank you!

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