CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Fitness comes easy to few of us, and the challenge of finding a routine to meet your needs can be even greater for people in the special needs community. A gym in Clifton Park is determined to change that and empower people while making fitness accessible for people of all abilities.
In the place you’d least expect it, inside the Clifton Park Center Mall, is a fitness routine pushing past expectations. St. Christopher Adaptive Fitness is an inclusive gym that adapts to any and all abilities.
“We have seen them thriving,” explained Jomilson Alvarez, co-founder of St. Christopher. “What makes us completely different is we understand these individuals are marginalized.”
Jomilson and his wife Theresa are in the business of breaking barriers while building strength. An idea that was inspired by Theresa’s brother, Mark Perez. “Because I am autistic and on the spectrum, I got to be a part of it,” said Perez.
“My brother struggles with some over-eating issues and wanting to get him to lead a more active lifestyle was really important,” Theresa explained.
But the couple didn’t just stop with Mark, Theresa and her husband jumped at the chance to help more people. “I realized how big the need really was,” said Theresa.
With their background in sports, Jomilson played baseball for 24 years, and medicine, Theresa, a former nurse for kids with special needs, the couple became certified personal trainers and started St. Christopher Adaptive Fitness in 2021. “The training requires a lot of knowledge on diagnoses of the individual and understanding the range of motion, what their capabilities are,” Jomilson added.
Their gym welcomes clients with a variety of needs. “They range from being on the spectrum with autism spectrum disorder, all the way to cerebral palsy and people that are wheelchair bound,” Jomilson said.
A small space by design, the trainers keep the area clutter-free. Inside there are no limitations, just adaptations. “Someone might take for granted ‘oh they can’t use their legs’, we think that’s definitely to the contrary. You should absolutely be getting your body moving no matter what your range of motion is,” Theresa explained.
Each routine is made special for each person.”It’s challenging, I make it challenging,” Jomilson added.
It’s what gets Jakob Warmus in the door. “To get stronger,” Jakob said.
“I think for anybody, not just individuals with special needs, being able to move our bodies in some way, shape or form is definitely a mood booster,” shared Theresa.
It’s also a boost in confidence for her brother, Mark. “Well, I kind of feel proud of myself.”
The exercises are designed to improve quality of life, range of motion and even coordination. “You see them getting stronger, you see them walking with less assistance,” Jomilson told us.
“We are showing something that anyone should be able to achieve, anyone should have access to,” Theresa stated.
The couple’s passionate purpose is paving the way to a stronger, more inclusive community. Jomilson said, “They are doing things in here that a lot of people didn’t think they could do,”
Ultimately proving, anything is possible when people are lifted up with encouragement.
SCF Adaptive fitness is located inside the Clifton Park Center Mall. You can reach them at (518) 553-0099.