New Total Access gym helps people with disabilities exercise

By: Hope Jensen Email
By: Hope Jensen Email
The Wilson YMCA has just opened a new Total Access Gym with 10 new machines that are fully accessible for everyone. (WRDW-TV)

The Wilson YMCA has just opened a new Total Access Gym with 10 new machines that are fully accessible for everyone. (WRDW-TV)

News 12 This Morning / Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It's a regular day at the gym with treadmills, stair masters and workout machines, but what if you couldn't use any of those?

A new facility in Augusta is making it easier for people with disabilities to exercise. The Wilson YMCA has just opened a new Total Access Gym with 10 new machines that are fully accessible for everyone. It is the first of its kind in the area.

"Anyone that gets disabled, it's a shocker, especially when you've not been around anybody that's ever been disabled," said Jeanette Thompson, who was injured in an IED explosion in Iraq in 2008.

She is now in a wheelchair, making it difficult to use regular workout machines.

"Just getting in and out of the machines is very difficult," she explained. "But now we don't have that problem anymore now that we have this equipment."

It's all thanks to the new gym at the Wilson Family Y.

"This is the first in the area so what we add to the community is anybody who wants to work out, they can come here and work out. No matter what your boundary or limitations are, you can come in here to work out," said Wellness Program Director James Thomas.

All the machines in the new room adjust so anyone can use them.

"If you're in a wheelchair, the machines, the seats, don't move so you really have to have someone to help you transfer over to them," Thomas said. "These machines, the seat swings out to where they can do that themselves. They can use the machine and then when they're done they can put the seat back so they're all dependent upon themselves to do it."

It's that independence that Thompson says is so important.

"We lost that independence once we became injured, so we don't want to lose that, but having this equipment gives us that back," Thompson said.

A gym like this one is something they say has been missing from the area.

"That's why we brought this here," said Thomas. "Because this isn't just a normal gym; this is for everyone. It's for the whole family."

It is available to be used by anyone, whether you have a disability or not, which is another plus for Thompson.

"My son, he's a college athlete, and so now when he comes home, we can work out together and it's as simple as a swivel of a seat now that me and him can work out together versus saying I can't, I can't do that machine," she explained.

Thompson has done a lot to make the best of her injury. She is a Paralympian. She traveled to New Zealand for the World Championship in 2011 and is currently the American record holder in her class for discus, javelin and shot put.


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