Adaptive Aerobics - Section Three


There are several pre-class preparation exercises that I want to bring to your attention under the generic classification of positioning. Proper positioning and posture for the seated athletes is one important aspect, but others include clothing adjustment and leg bag emptying.

Positioning in the Studio

Before class, additional sturdy seats should be arranged within the studio for those athletes who will participate sitting, but who are not wheelchair-bound. In a mixed class, with some standing and some seated, arrange the chairs so that the seated athletes will not have their visual field obstructed by a standing athlete; do not create a "seated zone." If, in a mixed class, part of your choreography involves the class moving, make certain that your seated participants are at the sides (preferably not at the back) of the studio.

Positioning in the Chairs

For those athletes exercising in their wheelchairs, the chairs should have the brakes locked and, if the chair is powered, the power should be off. Some athletic wheelchairs have no brakes, so you should chock the wheels with sand weights or some other wedge to prevent the momentum of the athlete from moving the chair. If the athlete needs upper body stabilization, the strapping should be installed before class begins. If the athlete needs to wear a seat belt, it should be secured, as the flight attendants say, "low and tight across your lap." Special care should be taken with those wheel chair athletes that have impaired tactile function or no tactile function (spinal cord injury athletes) that the wheel chair arms or parts do not rub against his body. If trunk support is sufficient, you can remove the arm rests (remember to reinstall them after class!).

Positioning by the Athletes

As part of your introductory speech to the class, you are taught to cover several points; You introduce yourself, you explain the class format and timetable, you tell the class the level of difficulty of the class and you tell them when the heart rate checks will be within the format of the class. In a seated class, all of these introductory items are still in your speech, but several other points are needed to be covered and one of the most essential is to have each participant stretch their arms forward side and back to make certain that they are not to close to other participants or to anything hard that could injure them during full range of motion exercises.


Especially in cold weather, athletes with limited movement ability may need help removing coats and sweaters. Thermoregulation is not an automatic response with some disabilities, so what may appear as someone bundled up too warmly to exercise may not necessarily be a problem; wait to be asked to help before helping.

Bladder and Bowel Function

For those athletes who are catheterized, you need to find as polite a way as possible to remind them to empty their leg bags before exercising.

End of section three