A first-of-its-kind, all-inclusive gym is emerging to reshape what fitness feels like for adaptive athletes, said Wesley Hamilton.
“This vision of what we’re about to create here at Crossfit Memorial Hill is magnificent,” said Hamilton, founder and executive director of Kansas City-based nonprofit the Disabled But Not Really Foundation (DBNR), which partnered with the local Crossfit affiliate to deliver one of the only facilities in America to fully cater to gym-goers with disabilities.
“We want to go out into the world and feel like we’re accepted and that happens when you go into a facility like this and you know that you don’t have to ask someone for help because you’re doing it yourself,” he said. “We’re shaping the world to believe that disabled people don’t have to be dependent.”
Click here to read more about Hamilton’s journey and the Disabled But Not Really Foundation.
The gym — at 2535 Jefferson St. — is expected to officially open during a community event on the First Fridays in May, he added.
“This facility is going to be built for the community and by the community, and we want everyone to come out and enjoy it,” Hamilton said.
“It’s also going to raise awareness in the community that these types of places shouldn’t have to be created as something special,” he added. “We want the community to understand that something like this should be everywhere. There should be no reason why you go into a gym and it’s not inclusive to all.”
Adaptive athletes will work out alongside their more able-bodied counterparts, rather than having a separate space within the facility, to curate a greater sense of independence, said Hamilton.
“I want to create something that is all-inclusive but doesn’t give you a different vibe from [a regular gym,]” he added. “Basically, you won’t see a problem with working out here if you have a disability and your family doesn’t see a problem with working out with you.”
The impact of watching a loved one overcome physical limitations is enough to “create a ripple effect across all your friends and family,” Hamilton said.
“That’s going to be the beauty of this program and this facility because it’s opening the doors for families and friends to be a part of changing their lives while their loved one is doing the same,” he said.
The opening of the Crossfit Memorial Hill marks the beginning of fundraising initiative for the DBNR Foundation to eventually build a separate space of its own, he added, noting a goal of making significant headway by 2020.
DBNR’s June 3 Help Me Fit Challenge is expected to open up the age range to include children with disabilities as well, Hamilton said.
“That’s going to be big opportunity for us to grow, and again to let people know that fitness is for everyone,” he said.
“We’re changing Kansas City and on our way to do more in other cities in years to come,” Hamilton added.
Click here read more about DBNR’s app that enables a global reach for the Kansas City-based nonprofit.