Boot camp teaches inclusive fitness for therapists, families

Boot camp teaches inclusive fitness for therapists, families

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Recently, NBC12 introduced you to an American Family Fitness instructor making a difference in the community by creating an inclusive gym class for all children.

Kelly Ferguson was the recipient of our Acts of Kindess Award for her work creating a boot camp class that included kids with special needs.

Not every body moves the same way, but everybody should be able to workout.

“Sometimes we do things differently from our friends, but we do them perfectly for us," Ferguson said, encouraging her class. "You guys are amazing!”

The music pumped up the participants, as they took on burpees, push-ups and jumping jacks.

But transcending the workout is the messaging. It’s why Ferguson created Kids Love Ur Body Bootcamp, or “KLUBB," to get all bodies moving together.

“There are no boot camp classes for kids with special needs," said Ferguson. "Physical needs that have speech therapists, occupational therapists, that are present on site helping them.”

Ferguson combined her love of teaching gym classes with her professional experience as a speech therapist, inviting local physical therapists, occupational therapists and families to come work out, and learn how to create opportunities in fitness.

“It was just an idea, and now it became something bigger," pediatric occupational therapist Hannah Walters said. "And to see the joy in just everyone participating is different and being able to do a class like this is so powerful and heartwarming, you know.”

The goal is big, but Ferguson hopes by bringing so many professionals together they can lift barriers to the kids and families they serve. They smash social boundaries, but also help build usable skills for the kids who come by adapting workouts to fit their needs.

“It helps with everything you do! And it keeps you healthy,” said Jenei, a participant who attends the class every week.

Each challenge comes with a reminder that “perfect” is the definition you give it.

“Did you know your body is perfect? It is perfect for you!” shouted Ferguson.

“If they gave it a chance and they kept coming, I knew that they would improve," she said in reflection. "I didn’t expect it to be as incredible, as heartwarming. Everybody who comes walks away talking about it and feeling so full.”

“It makes us feel good on the inside, and that’s really important, isn’t it?” Ferguson asked the class. "And when you do things in here like this, you learn how strong you are, how special you are, how amazing you are, you help your friends. "

The KLUBB class is free right now at American Family and the goal is to grow the program, serving more and more kids.

If you’d like to learn more about getting involved as a therapist, gym instructor or participant, you can email Ferguson at Klubbrva@gmail.com.

The next session begins Sept. 7 at 12:30 p.m. and will run for six weeks.

The free six-week inclusion fitness group class is for children who are 8 years of age and older. A caregiver must be present in the room to observe and participate. You do not have to be an American Family Fitness gym member.

All exercises and programming is tailored to the individual needs of the participant.

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