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Defying the odds: The strength and independence of Adaptive Athletes

Virginia Beach residents with physical and mental disabilities train to get their independence back from their injuries.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Emily Kramer Throckmorton trains athletes and the community daily.

She owns Kaizen Athletics and is the founder of the non-profit organization Kaizen Adaptive Training, a training program to help those struggling with disability regain their independence. 

Throckmorton has many Adaptive Athletes training at her gym located at 510 17 Half Street Unit B in Virginia Beach. 

She said the number of athletes coming to classes is getting to be more than the space can handle. 

“No pain, no gain right,” said Virginia Beach Resident Mike Felts, who was seen pulling on a row machine during one of the workout sessions.

Mike Felts is a former Virginia Beach police officer. He said the training program has been a blessing in his life.

“Close to 20 years of my career I developed lupus which is an autoimmune disease it’s kind of arthritic,” said Felts.

Surgery to remove a blood clot left him paralyzed from the waist down. But it’s not stopping felts from moving.

“Adaptive people really want to try and live the most normal life they can and to be independent and have that freedom to do things on their own,” said Felts.

Felts and others found their independence at Kaizen Adaptive Training.

“Almost three years into this I’m realizing that this is a hole in the health care system because they don’t really know where else to push these individuals once they’ve been cleared of physical therapy or occupational therapy," said Throckmorton.

RELATED: Deadline to register to vote is today, but you can still vote in Virginia if you miss it.

Three days a week for one hour, these Adaptive Athletes train for free.

“I’ve gained strength. I’ve gained flexibility,” said Felts.

The athletes also have gained confidence using this specialized equipment.

Stroke survivor Brannon Thomas said he came to the class using a cane, and now he’s carrying a weighted bag down the street for a workout. Thomas said his goals are increasing.

“I’m thrilled my next step is going to be running,” said Thomas.

Throckmorton said she wants to give back and train more adaptive athletes.

“We would love to help you guys get stronger. We will love to teach you how to push yourself up off the floor so if you fall out of your chair you don’t have to ask someone for help. You have your independence again,” said Throckmorton.

“You're competing against yourself to push yourself and see what your limits are,” said Felts.

RELATED: Deadline to register to vote is today, but you can still vote in Virginia if you miss it.

For many of these athletes on the journey to self-improvement, recovery has just begun.

Throckmorton tells 13News Now she hopes to have a larger facility for Adaptive Athletes in 2023.

Below are some of Throckmorton's adaptive certifications to work with folks with disabilities: 

  • Adaptive and Inclusive Trainer and  Adaptive Training Academy 
  • Inclusive Fitness Trainer; American College of Sports Medicine: 2022 
  • Functional Training for Adaptive Athletes; The Ready State
  •  Adaptive Fitness for Special Needs Clients; American Council on Exercise

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