​Adapted Fitness: A Personal Perspective

Posted by Team Kakana in Daily Dose on February 14, 2022 # Exercise

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During the first article in this series, we laid out what is and is not, the definition of Adapted Fitness. For the rest of the series, we will narrow the focus. We will analyze, illuminate and compare adapted fitness to what’s out there in the world. Make sure we tackle the misconceptions and preconceived notions of disability and fitness.

It’s important to understand adapted fitness from the personal level. We spoke with Emily Ladau (EL), author of Demystifying Disability and founder of wordsiwheelby.com, and Haleigh Rosa (HR), former NBC anchor, ADA advocate, and Off-White brand ambassador, to get their opinions, as they are two die-hard fitness enthusiasts that are not inside the fitness industry.

 Emily LadauWhen someone says their workouts are ‘adapted,’ what does that mean to you?

EL: An adapted workout is one that empowers everyone to come as they are. It’s fitness in whatever way works best for their body. This is totally contrary to so many mainstream fitness trends and products that are designed for and marketed to people with very specific “typical” body types and ability levels. But the reality is that no two bodies are alike, and workouts that feel good for one person might not feel good for someone else. So rather than assuming fitness can simply be one-size-fits-all, we need to shift toward making fitness accessible by creating spaces that support adapting movement to honor everyone’s individual needs.

HR: An adaptive workout is different for everyone. This means the workout is tailored to a specific person and their current needs. Adaptive workouts range from major to minor injuries and can be used for anything from disabilities to pregnancies.

Does the world understand what ‘Adapted Fitness’ is?

EL: Honestly, I don’t think so. I believe there’s a widely held assumption about adapted fitness (if people know what it is at all) that it’s only for disabled people. But it’s actually something that should enable anyone to participate and get something out of it. For example, my non-disabled cousin joined me for a few Kakana workouts, and I think she initially believed she wouldn’t get a lot of it, but by the end, she was sweating, and her heart was pumping just as much as mine.

HR: I don’t believe that the world truly understands what adaptive fitness is. An adaptive workout can still be tough and make someone work hard. The common misconception seems to be that adaptive fitness is only for the disabled community.

You exercise daily. What types of workouts do you do?

EL: Truth be told, I spend far too much time in front of the computer working. I’ve made it a point to incorporate exercise into my daily routine. A way to make sure I’m taking care of myself. I like to vary my workout routines and keep things interesting. I switch between cardio boxing, crosscycle (Kakana’s boutique cycling class), dancing, and light hand weight exercises. Crosscycle is definitely my favorite!

HR: Currently, I work out four times a week, three hours each day. During those 12 hours, I am relearning to walk using a walker, practicing standing balance and sitting balance.

What do you hope to see from the fitness industry to make fitness more accessible?

EL: My hope is that the fitness industry will move away from exclusionary, ableist standards of who belongs in that world. It’s far past time for companies and individual instructors to take meaningful action to be inclusive of any and all people who choose to participate. Kakana is a key part of making that happen.

HR: My hope is that more companies become inclusive. Those that use “adaptive workouts” want to feel included too — and we are capable of working out hard.

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