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Tuesday, October 19, 2021
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Popular Gym Chain Announces Focus on Accessible Exercise Equipment

Planet Fitness along with the Paralyzed Veterans of America, National Council on Independent Living, and American Council of the Blind (collectively “Coalition for Inclusive Fitness” or the “Coalition”) announced a commitment to expand access to accessible exercise equipment. Planet Fitness is one of the largest and fastest-growing global franchisors and operators of fitness centers with more members than any other fitness brand,

“As a leader in the industry and home of the Judgement Free Zone, it is our mission to provide an inclusive and welcoming environment to anyone who comes through our doors,” said Chris Rondeau, Planet Fitness’ Chief Executive Officer. “People with disabilities face significant barriers when attempting to access health and wellness activities, and it’s clear that health inequity is often due to a lack of access and opportunity. Today’s commitment is another way we are working to eliminate barriers and enhance people’s lives by providing a high-quality fitness experience for everyone.”

Strengthening Steps Ahead

The Coalition is focused on working with global organizations to build inclusive health communities that provide people with disabilities equal access to, and opportunities for, healthy living.  Planet Fitness is committed to providing inclusive equipment in all new clubs and adding it to existing clubs across the country as franchise owners replace current offerings, as inclusive commercial-grade equipment becomes available for purchase and is approved by Planet Fitness for inclusion in its clubs.

accessible exercise equipment

Planet Fitness will enhance the amount and variety of accessible equipment provided at its clubs by adding new inclusive equipment that conforms with ASTM standards as it becomes commercially available for purchase after clearing through a due diligence process, in accordance with set phased-in time parameters.

This equipment will include:

  • An inclusive dual cable strength machine that allows a person to perform multiple exercises from a seated position, including from a wheelchair.
  • A recumbent cardio machine where movement of the arms can move the legs, and vice-versa, and, in addition, the seat can be removed so it can be operated from a wheelchair.
  • Multiple cardio machines, which, depending upon availability, can include: treadmills, elliptical devices, upright bikes and/or recumbent bikes.
  • All new cardio machines will have inclusive features including raised tactile buttons and the ability to receive audible instructions and performance feedback through headphones. This will enable blind users to operate cardio machines independently.

Planet Fitness will also include the inclusive fitness symbol on all accessible equipment, share information about the roll-out of accessible equipment on its website (as it becomes available in its clubs), and continue its practice of providing customer service regarding the use of accessible equipment.

senior exercise

A Team Approach 

“We applaud Planet Fitness for this historic commitment to the disability community,” said Richard Thesing, Coalition for Inclusive Fitness’ Chief Executive Officer.  “At the present time, there are no cardio machines that can be used by blind people and very few fitness centers have cardio or strength machines that can be used by people with mobility disabilities. This marks a huge step forward towards providing individuals with disabilities with a truly inclusive fitness experience. We hope this will be the start of an industry-wide effort to provide individuals with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy an accessible fitness experience and take similar steps to making that a reality.”

“People who are blind face a myriad of chronic health conditions due in no small part to the lack of accessible exercise and fitness equipment available in the market today,” said Eric Bridges, Executive Director, American Council of the Blind. “The lack of accessible user interfaces and audible output for nearly all types of exercise and fitness equipment prevents people who are blind and experiencing vision loss from independently operating, purchasing and enjoying the use of fitness and exercise equipment, and thereby taking control of their own health and wellbeing.  ACB applauds Planet Fitness for their collaboration with the disability community, and we encourage other fitness and exercise providers to follow their leadership to enable people with disabilities the freedom to take control of their health.”

planet fitness slogan

“Exercise is for everyone,” said Emily Seelenfreund, Staff Attorney at Disability Rights Advocates – one of the organizations representing the Coalition.  “Planet Fitness’ pioneering commitment to increasing accessibility should serve as a model for fitness facilities across the country.”

“For people with spinal cord injuries and disorders, being able to access exercise equipment that meets their needs can be essential to maintaining an exercise program that increases their strength and endurance for rehabilitation, health, and overall sense of well-being,” said Heather Ansley, Associate Executive Director of Government Relations, Paralyzed Veterans of America.  “We believe that this commitment will help make accessible equipment more available in people’s communities and we are pleased that Planet Fitness has stepped forward to help meet this critical need.”

For more content like this from AmeriDisability, read: 

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