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Disability Network Southwest Michigan

Looking Good, Sam!

A man seated, wearing mask and living dumb bells, his shirt reads "Spirit Club"

In January 2020, Sam, age 69, was used to being active. He was leading chair exercise classes twice a week at his apartment complex. He was attending water exercise classes at the Borgess Health & Fitness Center and was also teaching Spanish classes at the Comstock Community Center. Once the pandemic hit in March 2020, all of that stopped. He stated, “I was a little depressed like everyone else. We couldn’t do those things we were used to doing. We were cooped up in our apartments, not being able to socialize.”

In the spring of 2021, Disability Network staff reached out to the Service Coordinators at Sam’s apartment complex. We knew many older adults and people with disabilities were feeling isolated and longed for some type of socialization. Not only is socialization vital to a person’s health, so is movement. In June 2021, Disability Network staff began offering in-person exercise classes once a week at Sam’s apartment complex through a partnership with SPIRIT Club, Fitness for All. SPIRIT Club is an exercise program for people with and without disabilities. All of the classes are designed without needing any equipment. They use a multi-trainer view which means on the screen there are 2 to 3 trainers showing the exercises in various ways from a seated position to a baseline version and an advanced version. Participants can choose which trainer to follow based on their abilities. Participants can also exercise at a pace that is comfortable for them. Disability Network staff also demonstrate the exercises and choose a variety of classes from their on-demand library, like balance fitness, boxing, strength fitness, and yoga.

Not only does Sam attend the in-person class at his apartment complex, he also attends the virtual class that is offered weekly. When he’s not doing either of these classes, he uses the on-demand library of classes through SPIRIT Club or he does his own workouts using his own weights, bands or recumbent bike. Sam recently shared how he has lost 15 pounds. He has seen many other positive results from exercising regularly again like bringing his BMI down and stabilizing his blood pressure.

Sam had a stroke several years ago and was recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. He is determined to continue controlling his diet and exercising daily. SPIRIT Club gives him structure in his life and he receives support from both Disability Network staff and the other people who participate in SPIRIT Club. His doctor told him if he sticks to this routine, he can be in charge of his diabetes and avoid insulin injections. Keep up the great work, Sam!