UW–Madison program has introduced adaptive fitness to countless students and people with disabilities

Adapted Fitness and Personal Training program has been a part of the university for 35 years.
students working with clients in a gym
Courtesy of UW Communications

For 35 years, the Adapted Fitness and Personal Training program at University of Wisconsin–Madison has introduced adaptive fitness to countless students and people with disabilities.

The founder of the program, Tim Gattenby, was motivated to develop the program — created for individuals with permanent and temporary disabilities — after getting multiple broken bones and torn ligaments in a skydiving accident as an undergraduate student. A doctor told him his body would never be the same, but he found a new way of pursuing athletics. It motivated him to help people with disabilities.

“Diversity in ability is something to celebrate, express and make the most of,” he says. “At first, in my performance, I trained out of anger and it took a long time before I could enjoy exercise and come to love it [again].”

Gattenby retired in July 2021, and Kecia Doyle took over as the director of the program. She hopes to expand program offerings by working even more with the University Recreation & Wellbeing program, the university’s fitness division.

Participants can join group classes or one-on-one fitness training sessions taught by students in the department of kinesiology. They are also offering week-long classes in sports including adaptive sailing, weightlifting, cross-country skiing, swimming, boxing, biking and wrestling. Gattenby says the goal of the program is to build clients’ confidence in themselves and to empower them in their fitness journeys.

Read about more adaptive sports in the Madison area here.

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