CLOCKWISE TOP: DEGREE DEODORANT INCLUSIVE POP-UP CYCLING CLASS; STEVE SERIO, 2-TIME PARALYMPIAN GOLD MEDALIST TEAM USA BASKETBALL; GARRISON REDD, TEAM USA PARALYMPIC POWERLIFTER
Event Photos Courtesy of Degree Deodorant
In late September, Degree Deodorant launched the #TrainersforHire Campaign, an initiative ahead of National Disability Employment Awareness Month challenging the fitness industry to hire trainers with disabilities. The kick-off was the first-ever inclusive pop-up cycling class in New York City’s Flatiron Plaza, led by eight-time Paralympic Track & Field medalist, Blake Leeper. The class included people with and without disabilities, on both spin bikes and hand cycles, to showcase how simple it is to create an inclusive fitness class.
As a participant, I can attest not only to the inspiration of a spin class taught by an instructor with a disability – a Paralympian no less – as well as the fact that it was a great class regardless. Blake told me that he actually has an advantage he can offer that others don’t. “I use my personal experiences of adversity and challenges, that mental toughness from being born without legs, and apply that to the class. I’ve been here before, I’ve had to push through, so push through with me.”
Blake was born with a congenital birth defect, and has worn prosthetics since he was 9 months old. He made his international Track & Field debut in 2009, and his first Paralympic Games were London 2012. Blake set his sites beyond the Paralympics last summer, with the goal of competing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, but was barred from competition on the grounds that his blade-like prostheses might give him an unfair advantage. Read More