Fitness facility offers programs for disabled vets

April 11, 2010 9:27:13 AM PDT
A Chicago area recreation facility has created a fitness program for veterans who have become disabled in the war.The veteran's initiative program called Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies at Northeast DuPage Special Recreation Association, or NEDSRA, offers an amazing fitness and wellness package that it is free of charge to qualified returning veterans.

At ClubFitness health club in Addison, Aubrey Youngs and Steve Baskis work out. Aubrey became disabled in 2005.

"I was working in a warehouse in Afghanistan where there was an accident with a fork lift that tossed me over the edge. So, I fell about 10 to 12 feet, and I blacked out. So, I really don't remember it. I came to the warehouse floor and completely severed my spinal column at the T-10 level, which is about where your belly button," Aubrey said.

Prior to becoming disabled, Aubrey was physically active.

" I played a lot of sports. I rode a bike a lot. I didn't go to the gym so much, but I got a pretty good workout just doing my daily routine," said Aubrey.

Steve Baskis, a member of the U.S. Army, was injured in Iraq in 2008.

" I you could say a roadside bomb, an EFP struck the side of my armored vehicle" he said. "I have no light sensitivity. Shrapnel was the case. Mainly, it hit the side of my head and other parts of my body. But a certain piece went through the side of my face and took my eyes."

Baskis' goal is to get in shape to qualify for the 2012 United States Paralympics cycling team.

"Monday, Wednesday and Friday are the days I've designated to come here for an hour at a time. You know, I'm trying to work on building the strength in my left arm. I have some paralysis, and I don't feel anything," he said.

So far, 24 veterans are part of the Healthy minds, Healthy Bodies program that started in September.

Executive Dir. Larry Reiner says the program is unique.

"We partnered with Addison Park Disctrict to create this opportunity, and they can get a membership for themselves and for family members or a friend to assist with transportation and motivational factors to ensure that they continue with the fitness program," Reiner said.

Veterans also get 15 hours of personal training from Joseph Sinople.

"A trainer who's been trained and has the expertise in working with spinal cord head injuries, loss of limbs, as well as visually impaired or deaf, if they've lost their hearing, as well" said Reiner.

Organizers are looking to expand the program.

"Not many people know about the program. So, we are involved in a marketing effort to make sure that newspapers, we're talking with you to make sure the word is getting out," Reiner said.

Especially now that spring has arrived, many people are pushing to get in shape.

"I lift weights, and I use the -- I'm going to call it a hand cycle-- but it's not really a hand cycle. It's a bike that you can use your arms with. I use that a lot for cardio, and then I do a little bit of free weights and do some of the pulley machines," Baskis said.

NEDSRA has a great package that is free of charge. Returning veterans who became disabled and are looking to get in shape should visit or call 630-620-4500.