Gym & Training Center Designed for Individuals with Disabilities Opens in Dublin
A new gym in Dublin is making sure everyone has the opportunity to incorporate fitness into their lifestyle. Launching earlier this spring at 6631 Commerce Parkway in Dublin, Unique Fitness & Independence Training (UFIT) is designed to meet the needs of those with special physical, neurological and developmental challenges.
As an adaptive physical education teacher with 25 years of experience, UFIT Founder Peggy Mills saw her students aging out of the school system and therefore a plethora activities designed to meet their unique needs. As adults, these individuals didn’t have the same opportunities to get involved with fitness.
“There’s a market here that’s completely untapped,” Mills says.
She started her own pilot program working with students over the summer out of another facility. Realizing the other gym didn’t have the set-up she needed, and with a supportive husband that encouraged her vision, Mills decided to create her own space with UFIT.
Mills says that while some gyms and recreation centers will accommodate those with differing abilities, UFIT caters directly to those individuals. The space and activities are designed for them, supported by a staff and volunteers that are passionate about working with populations with unique needs.
UFIT’s training philosophy is based in visual learning and adaptation. Mills uses a large white board to display different categories of exercises and allows individuals to choose what they want to do. Individuals get their own white boards outlining their workout, and as they complete each activity, take off an icon and put it away. Mills says seeing that closure – here’s what I have to do and now it’s done – benefits people along the autism spectrum.
Most individual with autism, or any kind of disability, are typically more visual learners, Mills says. Controlling their workout also helps to build independence and ownership. Mills aims to help individuals get into a routine, and get caregivers and parents involved in the process. Mills finds that teaching the individual and their providers different exercises takes it from just a workout to a way of life.
UFIT offers a variety of packages including unlimited visit gym memberships, personal training, and small and large group fitness classes. There’s only one location for now, but Mills says she’s already getting calls from families around Columbus and looking into the possibilities of franchising or adding another location on the other side of town. As UFIT continues to grow, she also plans to hire other individuals with disabilities to help around the gym.
Mills says families appreciate that UFIT loves their kids and the concept is completely for them. She’s heard feedback from other educators saying they can’t believe the things she is able to get past students to do. Mills wants UFIT to be a welcoming space for individuals no matter their disability.
“It fits everybody,” she says.
For more information, visit ufitdublin.com.