PHOENIX– The Virginia G. Piper Sports Fitness Center, known as the SpoFit, hosted the Wounded Warrior Program at an open house to show service members and their families what was offered here, May 5.
The sports center is a fitness center universally accessible to people with injuries and disabilities, andis open to anyone with a disability, including their families.
Jennifer Ruddell, a wheelchair basketball player and a two-time Paralympics gold medalist, has been playing wheelchair basketball for 10 years. She noted that the SpoFit center is open to anyone with a disability, civilian or military. She is interested in seeing more soldiers because she knows there are others out there that are injured and could benefit froman accessible gym.
“I would love to have National Guard members,” said Ruddell. “It wouldn’t matter if you never shot a basketball before, just come on out.”
Amber Blanchard, manager of the SpoFit center, explained the unique traits of the gym equipment for those with disabilities.
“It looks like typical gym equipment,but get really close and it’s a little bit different,” Blanchard said. “It’s universally accessible and chairs pull out for wheelchairs to pull in.”
There are many different types of workout equipment available to include lateral pulls, rope pulling and alternative rowing machines. One of the pieces of equipment was made for hand cycling, but is also an interactive video game.
Some of the facilities many features include an aquatic center, wheelchair basketball, standing basketball, martial arts, rock climbing, wheelchair tennis, fitness and wellness education, a kids program, and many more classes, programs and features.
“This facility brings back competitiveness with friends and peers,”Ruddell said. “It is the same sport just different equipment. It makes you feel like anyone else.”
There are also several programs with personal trainers for individuals with disabilities and their family members. The facility also offers exercise physiologists and nutritional experts on site to help people set personal goals.
The facility has three fully accessible pools:A lap pool, therapy pool, and a whirlpool hot tub. They are all equipped with elevators and hydraulic lifts that can assist those with disabilities in and out of the pool when taking classes like water aerobics and adaptive scuba diving.