After seven months of internal rehabilitation from an incomplete spinal cord injury, Annebel Venemans, 71, had to go on on her own. The treatment was over, but she still had to continue exercising a lot with specific exercises. The old gym dared not guide her in this matter, so she ended up at Reed Sports Center, where they also rehabilitated her. There, people can continue to exercise after rehabilitation if they are not yet ready for a regular gym.
A relief, thought Feynmans. “I feel safe there. No shame at all: everyone has something. I can only go down very slowly, and as soon as I’m on my bed, I wake up in a strange way. No one is surprised by it, but the people who reach out or pick up my rug for me.” Furthermore, Reed Sports Consultants specialize in rehabilitation or rheumatology care. “They know our history and they know what it’s like when you can’t use everything in your body. If an exercise doesn’t work, they have an arsenal of alternatives, adapted to your disability.”
From October 4, Reade will cease operating its commercial sports centers in Overtoom and Dr Jan van Breemenstraat. Reed, the center of expertise in rheumatology and rehabilitation medicine, aims to enable people to function properly in their own environment after rehabilitation, says rehabilitation director Dan Van Doyen. Only a small percentage of rehabilitators move to the sports center, which makes it “unreasonable” to continue offering it. “Stopping this will give us an opportunity to make our expertise more widely available.”
For example, with a sports counter, with which all rehabilitators can be placed in a suitable sports location. “We are looking at introducing sports and exercise into our living environment. Three years ago that was very limited, but developments are moving fast – there are now at least two hundred providers for this target group in the Amsterdam area.” Thomas Jansen, Professor of Rehabilitation Research at VU and Reade, looks at how to take adaptive sports to a higher level. He does this inside the Matched Sports Center in Amsterdam.
Not all commercial customers are comfortable with this. According to Sharis Coppens (44), this is the only gym where you can work out without worrying about a disability. I attended cardiac rehab with Reed and started the gym from there. She goes several times a week to continue working on her recovery. “I can’t keep up with the Basic Fit class.”
Peter Rubin, 61, the athletic trainer at Reed, also fears that his clients will not be able to find a suitable replacement. “It is absolutely unique that our sports center adapts to the restrictions. There are toilets for the disabled, a parking garage designed for them and the staff specialize in it. I come from rehabilitation care and know the support people need. You will not find it anywhere as perfect as here.”
Yolanda Walstra, 54, thinks so, too. Fourteen years ago she was diagnosed with rheumatism. Her diagnosis means she will have to continue exercising for the rest of her life. Not to become stronger, but not to become weaker. To make sure her back and hips don’t get stuck. “In normal gyms, it’s all about getting better. I just want to stay the same.” Come there two or three times a week. “I feel at home here. I am no different, we are all chronically ill.”
Annebel Venmans must have started looking for alternatives. “I end up doing yoga on a chair, and I don’t feel like it.” Accessibility also plays a role. Public transportation is difficult because her left leg is not working. It can drive automatic. “But then there has to be enough parking space for people with disabilities.”
The Astra also has no alternative yet. “I spent hours trying to find something. Then I came to Pilates, something for tall and slender ladies who can put their leg behind their neck.”
Van Duin stresses that independent research is really difficult, but is convinced that with the help of Reade, it will be possible for every client. Moreover, there is some hope: He hopes that another provider will take over the sports center in the same location, where the Reade expertise can continue to be used. Existing clients can stay together. “All efforts are aimed at that.”
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