Last Friday I was invited to work out at Boost Physical Therapy and Sports Performance with a few other athletes who have some physical limitations.
Each of us was given the same workout, but it was adapted to each individual’s abilities and needs.
I met Zac Craig, who is a strength coach and athlete trainer, as well as Travis Neff, a physical therapist, athletic trainer and strength coach. These two guys have big goals, including their collaboration in opening a non-profit program to provide physical therapy and exercise to all levels of adaptive athletes. The estimated opening date for their new facility is January 2020! Hey, that’s right up my alley. I think this is such a wonderful idea for adaptive athletes to get in shape and build confidence! I sat down after my workout for a question and answer session with Zac.
Rite On Point: What inspired you to make a gym for adaptive athletes?
Zac Craig: We all have a story, and I’m really no different. I survived cancer for the third time. The last time they had to put in a titanium scapula and humerus (shoulder blade and upper arm bones). I had to start adapting my own workouts out of necessity due to limited range of motion of that arm. I had been a strength coach from the NFL to high school levels, as well as a strongman competitor. I thought it was pretty cool how creative I had to be with the workouts. I originally wanted to help strictly cancer patients, but then I saw a few gyms that were training adaptive athletes. I knew I had to do that. I thought of the most progressive person I knew in the strength and conditioning world and contacted him about my idea (Travis Neff). Little did I know, he had the same idea. We met the next day and it all started that day.
ROP: What are your goals?
ZC: To get people to see things in themselves that they may not necessarily see. To have each athlete look in the mirror after their traumatic injury and smile. We all have self-talk and sometimes that self-talk turns into self-doubt. The “new normal” doesn’t have to be a negative thing. I think anyone who has suffered a traumatic injury has probably gone through that a least a little (myself included).
The other goal is to create an environment where an adaptive athlete can come in and talk with someone who has experienced the same thing or close to the same thing they are going through. How you learn, grow, and adapt is through each other and “real world” experience. If you can chat with people who know where you are coming from, I believe it can help propel you to whatever your next goals are. Therefore, our goal is to create the gym where if you are an adaptive athlete, you are the norm and not the exception.
ROP: Are any adaptive athletes welcome or are you limiting to certain athletes?
ZC: No, all adaptive athletes are welcome. You just have to be willing to work and have a goal(s) in mind. We can modify anything except your work ethic and grit.
ROP: How was it working out with a girl born missing legs and deformed hands (Me!) ?
ZC: It was awesome! You have a great work ethic and your self drive to better yourself is obvious. To see someone who doesn’t limit themselves in anything and can be a great athlete, mom, wife, etc is really cool to see. It just proves if you train the mind, the body will follow. I am thinking we need to create a Para Spartan Team!
T: Challenge Accepted! 😉
ROP: What is your favorite part about working with adaptive athletes? And what is the most challenging part?
ZC: My favorite part is seeing self-confidence rise up. When they can start doing things they haven’t done in years or ever, there is no better feeling.
The most challenging part is the adaptation of workouts. You have to really think in a biomechanical mindset and usually on the fly as to what other exercise will work for them. You have to make sure it hits the movement or muscle group you want and keeps their body in a stable and minimal risk position.
ROP: What do you want the outcome to be from the athletes you train?
ZC: The outcome that we really want the athletes to achieve is whatever their goals are. That will range on each person. Some people may want to run a marathon, climb mountains, play with their kids or grand-kids, and some people may want simple bladder control. We want to be there to help facilitate goal achievement anyway that we can. For us, training is the one thing we know and believe that if you can train the body, you train the mind.
ROP: How can future athletes find you or reach you?
ZC: As we finalize our website, they will be able to reach us on there. Until then, they can email or fill out the Google form to be contacted if they want to know more or to train with us in the future.
ROP: Finally, how can we help you?
ZC: You can help by volunteering, giving referrals, and/or donations to get this started. We are always looking for people who believe in this mission, and want to be a part of it!
I am really excited to see Zac and Travis’s ambition come alive! And I won’t have to wait long since January is around the corner! See you at Iron Adaptive in 2020!