Is Adaptive Fitness Right for You? 

One of the challenges many people with physical disabilities face is finding programs that can accommodate their special needs. Most people with a physical disability consider adaptive fitness programs an option. Adaptive fitness is the practice of training using modified ways that cater to those with various physical limitations. These exercises enable aspiring adaptive athletes to achieve their fitness goals as they would if they didn’t have any limitations. 

It’s not about getting into shape; it’s also about being more independent and having more control over your life. Read on to find out if adaptive fitness is right for you.

Getting To Know Adaptive Fitness

If you’ve got a physical disability, chances are you have considered adaptive fitness programs as an option. Adaptive fitness is the practice of exercising to meet your personal needs and goals while taking into account your specific physical health limitations. It’s a great way for people with disabilities, including spinal cord injuries, amputations, and other physical limitations, to stay fit and healthy.

This can be useful for people with disabilities who want to stay active but cannot take part in traditional exercise classes. Adaptive fitness programs help ensure everyone has access to safe and effective exercises, even without access to equipment or space at the gym. There are many types of adaptive fitness:

1. Personal training sessions

You can do these at home with a licensed trainer – best for those with some fitness training experience. It’s easy to find online sessions or find an adaptive fitness app.

2. Group sessions 

This option works well for those who want expert guidance, and you can find an instructor through organizations like Special Strong.

3. Low Impact Cardio 

Exercises that don’t need much energy output, like walking, cycling, swimming, and yoga, are advised. Low-impact cardio can also be part of a fitness program because it is easy on the joints and muscles while providing various cardiovascular benefits.

How to Decide Whether Adaptive Fitness is Right For You

Do you have a fitness dream or goal you feel you can’t achieve because of your physician or health limitations? If so, then adaptive fitness might be right for you.

To start your journey, find a gym that caters to adaptive athletes and has experienced trainers. Make sure the gym you join has the right equipment for adaptive programs and services. 

It would help if you also talked to your physician before beginning any new training program. Certain conditions have limitations to activities like running or jumping on a trampoline. Your physician can tell on what exercises will be good for you and what to avoid.

To be eligible as an adaptive athlete, your level of disability must be impaired so much that it affects your ability to take part in regular physical activities. For example, if you need a cane to walk or can’t use your arms, you’ll likely need help to perform normal workouts. So ask yourself what you hope to achieve from the workouts. 

Are you working on your stamina, improving your balance, or increasing your flexibility? Adaptive fitness differs from traditional resistance training because it’s not about lifting weights and building muscle. It’s about learning to use your body, moving in new ways, and working in collaboration with and trusting your trainer. 

The programs help adaptive athletes learn how to adapt their bodies for various movements. This could include running, relearning how to walk, and regaining control over a specific body part. 

Adaptive fitness trainers work with you by helping you reach your goals by teaching you the skills you need to achieve them. It differs from regular workouts as it offers an inclusive and empowering approach to fitness that recognizes the unique needs of those with disabilities. 

Apart from the physical benefits, adaptive fitness is a tool for self-determination and personal growth and for building community among people with disabilities.

How Adaptive Fitness Programs Are Structured

The idea behind adaptive fitness is to use technology that can ensure you’ll workout with the right intensity for your body. You can work with a qualified therapist or trainer to fine-tune workouts as you go along, so they become more challenging as your body gets stronger and healthier.

Regaining your fitness doesn’t mean you have to be doing high-intensity interval training or complicated workouts. The workout models incorporate strength training and cardiovascular exercises to help individuals at various fitness levels meet their goals. Improving your health and performance is important in helping you live a relatively normal life, but you need to listen to your body and not push yourself too far. The idea behind adaptive fitness is that you need to do something challenging but not too intense.

Most people, especially when starting, prefer to work out with a trained specialist. Certified trainers have experience with various conditions and know how to accommodate and adapt different workouts to work for you. Working alone is challenging since you face limitations due to your health. Your trainer can bridge the gap and help you safely perform the different exercises you’ll be doing. 

Certified trainers help you focus on core areas that’ll help speed up your recovery if you’re bouncing back from an injury or boost your fitness if you have a condition affecting your physical health. Certified Strong trains experts to be able to work with physical disabilities of all kinds. 

To summarize the training models, look at these four main areas, namely:

1. Core Balance & Flexibility

This works on an individual’s gait, focusing on corrective workouts that strengthen one’s core, help you get your balance back if your condition affects how you walk, etc. 

2. Brain & Sensory Systems

Conditions like Parkinson’s and individuals recovering from traumatic brain injuries often have impaired brain function and physical complications to overcome. By focusing on brain exercises, you can work on rebuilding their neural pathways and, consequently, improving their mobility by healing the parts of their brain that affect movement.

3. Strength & Muscle Development

Patients with multiple sclerosis or health-debilitating conditions are often limited to wheelchairs or have very little mobility. Because they’re not physically active, they tend to lose their muscle mass in a process called muscle atrophy. That means that basic, everyday tasks may become harder for them. Adapted fitness exercises allow them to engage their muscles in ways that accommodate their physical needs, so they don’t experience muscle wasting.  

4. Endurance & Stamina Adaptation

This is one of the final stages of training, consisting of cardiovascular exercises that work on stamina. One only graduates to this level after undergoing the first three, as this works to enhance the strength established in the first three stages. 

What Are the Benefits of Adaptive Fitness?

Now that you understand adaptive fitness explore some of the benefits associated with it. Working with a trainer can be a great way to get started in your chosen adaptive fitness programs and can help you achieve your fitness goals. Some of the advantages are:

  • It’s a great way to stay in shape and build endurance
  • Adaptive fitness helps empower clients and build confidence
  • It helps you maintain a positive attitude toward your condition instead of focusing on its limitations 
  • Maintain muscle mass often lost by not moving around
  • Assist in pain relief
  • Allow people to become independent by regaining mobility
  • Boosts strength and balance in people with previously impaired physiques
  • It improves blood circulation, helping provide nutrition to various parts of the body
  • Increased flexibility
  • Reduced risk of chronic conditions like diabetes and increased blood pressure, which can lead to other health problems
  • It helps you maintain good posture by realigning joints and bones, which may be affected by the condition
  • Keep fit without compromising your health by working with a trainer and using adjusted workouts as opposed to regular exercise programs

Things to Consider Before Registering for Adaptive Fitness Programs?

Before signing up for adaptive fitness, it’s important to look at your disability and what you want to achieve. Talk with your doctor about any medical restrictions that could affect your ability to participate in adaptive exercise programs. If you’re thinking about beginning an exercise program, consider the type of activity you want to do:

Cardio is great for burning calories and improving cardiovascular health. Still, it might not be right for everyone because some people have heart conditions that make this type of workout risky. Strength training improves muscle tone while strengthening bones and ligaments in joints throughout our body. 

However, if this is something beyond what you can handle alone, consider working with a trained adaptive fitness expert. 

It’s more than physical activity, it’s a community that supports and encourages each other. With the right tool and proper guidance, people with disabilities can achieve any fitness goals they set. Once your doctor has cleared you, go ahead and find an adaptive fitness gym near you and start the journey to a healthier you.


Unfortunately, there is still a lot of misinformation out there about adaptive fitness programs. A lot of people think that if you have a disability, you’re not able to do any exercise at all or that you’ll never be able to get the same results as someone without a disability. 

But with the right tools and guidance from an experienced trainer, anyone can achieve any fitness goals they set for themselves. So if you’ve been thinking about starting an adaptive fitness program but haven’t taken the first step yet, now is your chance! And for interested trainers, sign up with Certified Strong today to get 50% off!

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