For Elijah Alexander, getting his weekly dose of exercise in can be difficult. But Theresa Alvarez is there to make it fun.

“Having that aspect of moving your body, and knowing it’s such a vital part of you becoming a healthier you, we want to make that fun,” Alvarez said.

St. Christopher Fitness is an adaptive fitness studio, meaning they work with people with disabilities.

What You Need To Know

  • Adaptive fitness makes workouts accessible to individuals of different abilities

  • St. Christopher Fitness in Clifton Park specializes in adaptive fitness

  • Every workout is designed for each client based on wants and needs

Six-year-old Elijah is on the autism spectrum, and he always comes to class full of energy. It’s Theresa’s job to channel that energy into workouts that she says will get Elijah’s entire body moving.

“We want to make sure each program individualized, and caters to their wants and needs,” Alvarez said. “So we make sure we pay really close attention and give that undivided attention to each every one of them.”

Just across the room, Theresa’s husband Jomilson is working with Sean Fultz, going through an extensive core workout.

Sean, who has cerebral palsy, plays for the local sled hockey team, the Sled Warriors. With a gold medal on the line at Sean’s next tournament, it’s Jomilson’s job to get him ready.

“It’s a lot of exercises and conditioning ways for him to form that endurance to be able to put perform other players on the ice,” Jomilson Alvarez said, “especially being one of the more older guys on the ice, but a very hard worker.”

As Sean hits the bands to increase his strength, he’s got his coach motivating him every pull.

Jomilson is one of Sean’s biggest supporters, counting him down every repetition.

“Muhammad Ali said you don’t count the reps until it burns. And I take that mindset to push my individuals so they understand they’re stronger than they think they are,” Jomilson Alvarez said.

Theresa’s brother Mark, who was diagnosed with autism, inspired the Alvarezes to open the adaptive gym. The two began to train her younger brother over a year ago to get him active, and the change it created in Mark’s life inspired them.

“We discussed one night, ‘this is something we can do more.’ Because being sedentary in the special needs community, it really almost plagues them in a way and it spreads like rapid fire, and it’s something we want to change,” Theresa Alvarez said.

A year later, their client list has grown from one to 12, giving everyone the opportunity to get active and have fun.

“We are making it an exclusive, at-home environment that they can come to,” Theresa Alvarez said. “They can truly be themselves, while they are getting a great experience helping to crush their health and fitness goals.”