By Stacy Damitio
Nestled between the buildings on the West side of Glendale Community Colleges main campus, there is a small tight-knit community of kindred spirits. They are all working towards the same goal; to overcome a physical disability and stay active.
The facility offers so much more than just a mundane place for people to come and work out. There is a true sense of camaraderie within the walls of this unique facility.
“The people in here are all just a big family,” said Marilyin Threewit, who has been coming to the facility for two years due to a stroke.
“I [have] all kinds of friends of here,” said William Scharer, who has been coming for five years.
Gabriel Ortiz, now 34, first came to the gym in a wheel chair after a brain aneurism.
Doctors were not sure he would survive, and if he did, they did not think he would ever get out of his wheelchair. But he has.
“Now he is at the point he can hold onto the treadmill [and walk],” said Ted Radossevich, a technician who has been working at the gym for 3 years.
Ortiz has put in a lot of time to make such great strides. He is there every Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m.- noon working hard.
“I like working on the machines and talking to friends,” Ortiz said. “It keeps me busy.”
“It gives them a sense of purpose, a chance to interact and find common ground,” said Radossevich.
“There are people who have been coming here for 17-20 years,” said Hannah Glemba, a technician in the gym.
Everyone working out in the gym is a GCC student. The majority take the class for non-credit, but it can be taken for 1 credit.
There are roughly 8 students who are enrolled in the Adapted Fitness Center class who also take other classes on campus.
The gym has come from humble beginnings. It made its appearance in 1986, with only 8 people enrolled in the class, currently they have 45. Since the class sizes have grown, the building had to grow as well, and it has.
The Adapted Fitness Center was the only one of its kind up until not too long ago when something similar was built in Downtown Phoenix.
“It is a great program,” Glemba said. “It’s not just a gym; it gives [the students] motivation to get up in the morning.”
Most of the people at the gym are wheelchair bound; This could be a problem for them in most gyms, but not this one, which offers roughly 20 machines for use. At the Adapted Fitness Center there is a mixture of cardio and weighted machines.
“Everything in here is wheelchair accessible,” Radossevich said.
Since the majority of people using the gym have physical disabilities, some attend with a caregiver who is there to help them.
One of the most appealing aspects of this facility is not only the closeness of all the members, but the safety it offers as well.
“Most of our [equipment] is reinforced,” said Radossevich. This is just one more safeguard the facility offers to ensure everyone is secure.
“I can speak on my own time, [there have been] two or three falls, but no major injuries,” said Radossevich.
Getting people out of their wheelchairs is an important step in keeping them healthy.
“If they are in their chairs too much, they get sores,” Radossevich said. Getting them out of their chairs also is essential in getting blood flow the muscles.
This gym is one where everyone knows your name, and is ready to offer encouraging words and a helping hand. The Adapted Fitness Center is genuinely a home away from home for all those who enjoy their time there.