A Speciality Business. One
of the words Greg Kirk Jr. uses to describe his business, Fitness Training
Unlimited, is “special.” This term is accurate because Kirk and his staff serve
a population not typically found in the average fitness facility. Fitness
Training Unlimited, in Macomb, Michigan, caters specifically to adaptive-needs
clients who have a wide variety of injuries and myriad other considerations.
“[We] work with . . . people of all ages, suffering from various kinds of
disabilities,” says Kirk. “That’s what makes this company so special. It’s also
a specialized community that welcomes working with clients ranging in age from
children all the way to the elderly.”
“The Call.” Kirk’s passion for working with special-needs
clients began in college when he was a head regional coordinator for the
Special Olympics. “It amazed me how popular this event was and how much it
meant to the participants, parents, coaches and community,” he recalls. “After
the Special Olympics ended, I was hooked and knew that making a difference in
these indviduals’ lives [was] something I wanted to pursue.”
Kirk decided that he would create a facility geared toward
empowering this population and helping them understand that their circumstances
are not limitations. “We believe fitness is within everyone’s reach,” he says.
Fitness Community. Kirk has worked hard to create an
atmosphere that is free of pressure and is based on social
interaction—characteristics he feels are imperative to his clients’ successes.
“Many of [our] clients are confined to their homes all day every day,” he says.
“Therefore, [our facility] serves as a consistent and stable environment where
clients can come any hour of the day and socialize with one another. It is a
great place for clients to escape to and feel normal,” he smiles. “Each member
respects and understands what the other members have been through and can
relate to the lives they lead day in and day out.”
While many of his clients simply arrive for their scheduled
appointment and leave upon completion, Kirk strongly encourages everyone to
come early and/or stay for a while afterward and chat. “Interaction and support
among our clients is highly encouraged to promote a positive, productive
atmosphere,” he adds.
Programs. Working with all types of special-needs clients has
enabled Kirk to create a variety of unique and effective programs. “We have
developed programs for clients who have traumatic brain injuries; spinal cord
injuries; orthopedic limitations [such as rotator cuff injury]; and individuals
who are visually impaired.” He and his staff also specialize in working with
wheelchair-bound individuals and those with multiple sclerosis.
Despite what might be considered hefty limitations, clients are
encouraged to reach for goals beyond their expectations. “We strive to help
each client realize that there are unlimited ways to overcome whatever
obstacles have been set in their path,” he says. Kirk notes that his
wheelchair-bound clients appreciate his approach to training because he gives
them the opportunity to experience exercise out of the chair. “Our training
staff usually encourages . . . using floor mats, exercise balls, therapy
tables, reistance bands, weightlifting machines, etc. These clients sit in a
wheelchair almost all day, so it’s nice for them to get an opportunity to work
outside their usual environment.”
the Whole Person. Another unique aspect of the programming at
Fitness Training Unlimited is that Kirk and his staff “step away from the
traditional model of postrehabilitation, which is to condition only the
specific area that’s injured.” Instead, they implement exercises that help to
condition the entire body. “We design our programs to enhance ability, improve
movement, increase strength and flexibility and, above all, make our clients
realize that their goals are real and attainable.”
Kirk concedes that his job isn’t always easy. “There are ups and
downs and highs and lows along the course,” he says. “However, watching these
individuals overcome their challenges and face adversity to accomplish a goal
and achieve success is what makes my job truly rewarding.”
Do you own a business that
breaks the mold? If so, e-mail [email protected] and let us know why you
think your personal training business is unique.
is the associate editor for IDEA and a certified personal trainer.
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