VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — If you’re waking up feeling a little sluggish or unmotivated, this story is for you.
Today and every weekday in Virginia Beach’s ViBe District, you’ll find a small group of people doing box jumps and ring rows, and bike sprints.
That’s a typical gym routine, but these athletes are anything but. Joe Watts, for example, was almost killed three years ago in a motorcycle crash.
“I was lying there in the street and because my leg was severed my main artery was bleeding out,” he said.
A quick-thinking bus driver saved Watts’s life, but he lost his leg.
“It was quite an experience, going through that and learning how to exist again,” Watts said.
Time at the gym wasn’t at the top of Watts’s priority list, but as he worked his way through physical therapy, he wanted a greater challenge and to regain some of his pre-crash life.
“Being prior military, I spent a lot of time on the weight pile,” he said.
A few weeks ago, Watts discovered Kaizen Fitness’s Adaptive Training program in Virginia Beach.
“I said to myself, ‘Well, I’m adaptive, I’m not exactly an athlete.’”
Watts quickly became one, under the guidance of owner and trainer Emily Kramer.
“I use my adaptive athletes as examples to my able-bodied athletes,” she said. “I say, ‘Hey, Joe comes in here, he has one leg and he just did this workout.’”
Kramer started the adaptive program a year ago, after working out alongside people with amputated arms and legs.
“They were all doing the exact same workout as me, they were doing box jumps or running, all with their prosthetics,” she said. “I was completely blown away.”
Kramer’s goal is to help her adaptive athletes regain their full function using ordinary gym movements like squats and step-ups.
“To you and I, [that] seems like nothing, but for them it translates over to their independence in the real world.”
Watts has noticed physical changes, but for him it’s also about winning a mental game.
“Every time I leave here, I’m smoked, I’m exhausted, I’m tired,” he said. “But I feel really good getting in my truck going home knowing I worked through it and Emily helped me get through it.”
Kaizen’s adaptive athlete program is five days a week and totally free for participants. To donate to help keep the program going, visit Kaizen Athletics’s website. If you’re interested in purchasing merchandise, click on the Contact Us link on the site.