> BARx Adaptive Training

Inclusive Fitness Environment For Individuals With A Wide Range Of Skill Levels And Capabilities

BARx Adaptive Training provides an inclusive fitness environment for individuals with a wide range of skill levels and capabilities. This organization strives to create a supportive community for athletes with physical disabilities by building functional fitness, improving confidence, and supporting increased independence outside of the gym.

One of the core philosophies underlying the Crossfit methodology states that the fitness needs of individuals vary in degree, not type. This means that everyone can benefit from increased capacity for basic human movements such as pushing, pulling, lifting, squatting, and running (or wheeling!). The adaptive methodology for modifying Crossfit workouts to fit the needs of athletes with disabilities exemplifies this philosophy perfectly.

For example, while an able-bodied athlete performs squats with a barbell on their back, the adaptive athlete may practice transferring an external object from the ground up to a box or hold a weight while twisting from side to side. In this way, the purpose and stimulus behind the workout holds true, and all athletes can obtain a similar level of intensity while working within their individual capacities.

The BARx adaptive program began somewhat serendipitously after co-founders Monica Lohnes and Bob Portell crossed paths at a Crossfit competition for kids in the spring of 2018. Bob’s 13-year-old daughter, Josie Portell, has spina bifida and was entered in the competition that day, and Monica worked closely with Bob to help plan specific adaptations for all the events. Everyone in the gym that day, from the competition organizers to the other participating athletes to the spectators, walked away feeling awed and humbled by her performance. Something special had just taken place, but it was only the beginning.

After that competition, Monica and Bob took it upon themselves to begin developing a long-term adaptive program in concert with the owners and coaches at BARx Crossfit and a seemingly endless supply of dedicated volunteers. The combination of Monica’s passion for fostering an inclusive fitness environment for people with disabilities and Bob’s endless dedication to creating fulfilling athletic endeavors for his daughter was a match made in heaven.

Working around their full-time jobs and other obligations, these two threw themselves heart and soul into this project, and in the process, they created an enduring program that is truly exceptional.

BARx Adaptive became an official 501c3 in 2019, but the program has been building up over the last 18 months. Currently, six adults and seven teens with various ability levels participate in classes multiple times per week. A team of two coaches, five assistants, and one intern assist with programming, equipment, and behind-the-scenes setup.

The adaptive athletes are welcome to attend any of the gym’s regularly programmed group classes, performing the workouts and making modifications as would any other member. Each athlete begins with a 4-class on-ramp introductory program, in which they learn the basic moves and lifts to get them ready for the group classes.

Within the adaptive program, this is a learning opportunity for both the athlete and the coaches as they get to know each other and understand how to optimize their fitness environment.

The BARx Adaptive Training program continues to grow, as does the excitement and dedication around it. Everyone involved looks forward to what the future holds and continues to be inspired by the positive impact that this inclusive fitness environment has already had—both for the athletes participating and those privileged enough to find themselves in their presence.

BARx Adaptive

[email protected]
12309 Old Big Bend Rd. Kirkwood, MO 63122

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