|Me before my first wheeled 5k|
Needless to say, it was frustrating but really got me thinking about what a fitness center based on Universal Design principles might look like.
This dream involves a space that is welcoming to all sorts of bodies, even from looking at the outer structure of the building. Wide walkways with places to park bikes, trikes, handbikes, mopeds, scooters. Adequate parking with spaces designed for the various ways people get out of their vehicles. A nearby bus stop that is close to the gym.
The building itself would have automated doors with wide doorways. The check-in desk wouldn't have a turnstile, but would have some other method of traffic control that is accessible to folks with large gym bags, folks using wheels or scooters, and folks who are fat. The building would either have no carpet or very thin carpet that is easy to maneuver for folks moving around in various ways. Both the elevator and stairs (if it's multiple floors) would be easy to find and navigate, and wide enough to allow for easy movement.
There would be cardio equipment that allows for a variety of people, including recumbent bikes that allow for the seat arms to be pushed away so a wider person could use it, treadmills that a wheelchair user could roll on, and machines that allow a visually impaired person to set their workout. The water fountains wouldn't be blocked by mats or rugs. Group fitness rooms would be set up with wide doors, equipment that can be reached from a variety of heights, and with sound systems that are clear and allow the instructor to be heard.
Staff would be readily available and trained to assist in a variety of ways. There would be someone in the free weights who can help move dumbbells and barbell plates, who can spot lifts if a person doesn't have a workout partner, and who can make sure benches and other equipment are maintained in a way to allow for free movement of people throughout the space. The weight machines would be spaced far enough to allow for bodies of a variety of sizes to be able to get in and out, and allow for safe transfer from wheels to machine and back. There would be child care that patrons could use as a part of their membership that would accept all children and give them fun physical activity.
There would be indoor courts for basketball, volleyball, tennis with appropriate flooring for both seated and standing sports. Studios for dance, yoga, Pilates, martial arts. Ideally pools with lap swimming, a heated therapy pool, and a hot tub, all with ramps and lifts to allow a variety of bodies to get in and out safely. Maybe even a climbing wall.
There would be no messages about fat loss, calorie burn, or other body-hating messages. It would be about fun, challenge, strength, joy, and community.
What am I missing? What would you see in this space?