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Inside Wisconsin Athletic Club’s Accommodation of Adaptive Fitness

adaptive fitness

When making decisions in your club — about new fitness classes or equipment placement, for example — it’s important to accommodate your members who have special needs or require adaptive fitness. Keeping these members in mind encourages inclusivity and gives a nice boost to your club’s overall culture.

Derek Deprey, the director of training and development at Wisconsin Athletic Club (WAC), has seen firsthand the difference a club can make in the lives of members with special or adaptive fitness needs.

“A couple of years ago, we moved around some cardio and strength equipment to improve the overall client experience,” shared Deprey. “Most of the decisions were no brainers. However, there was one situation that challenged us: flip-flopping the locations of two indoor rowers and two NuStep machines.”

Before switching the NuStep machines — recumbent cross trainers that help users with mobility issues — and indoor rowers, Deprey weighed the pros and cons of the move with his team.

“The No. 1 positive was that we would be putting two rowers with the other six rowers, thus giving us the ability to increase participation in our high intensity classes,” explained Deprey. “The No. 1 negative was that we would have to move the NuSteps another 100 feet away from the main entrance, thereby creating a longer walk to get on them.”

Settling on the benefits to group class participation, Deprey made the call. “I decided to officially make the swap, mostly because I didn’t think an additional 100 feet of walking was that big of a deal for members,” he said. “So the managers and I shuffled the final pieces of equipment around, and surprisingly, I didn’t hear any positive or negative client feedback over the next 48 hours.”

It wasn’t until the third day after the switch, however, that some WAC members felt the impact of the decision. According to Deprey, a couple in their mid-70s, one of whom used a walker as her support, came into the club looking for the NuStep machines. He offered to walk the couple to the new location of the NuStep machines, but due to mobility issues, the walk for the active agers was taking roughly 10 minutes — twice as long as it previously took.

“I realized my decision would impact some members more than I anticipated,” said Deprey. “I remember thinking I had misjudged the people who really need the convenience.”

Upon realizing the impact the original decision had on two of his members with adaptive fitness needs, Deprey immediately moved the NuStep machines back to their original location. Thanking him, the elderly couple was able to carry on with their workout, and WAC had two more satisfied customers.

The moral of the story? When making decisions for your facility, consider the needs of all your members, especially the ones with special or adaptive fitness needs. In the case of WAC, they were members who needed the mobility-friendly machines closer to the entrance of the club.

“Think about the next meaningful decision you’ll be making,” advised Deprey. “Before making that decision, ask yourself: How will this decision impact your customers? How will this decision impact your organization? How will this decision impact the community?”

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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