SCI Total Fitness: a new way to exercise after a spinal cord injury

November 28, 2012

Kristin McNealus

Kristin McNealus, PT, DPT, ATP is the creator of SCI Total Fitness, the first online exercise program for people with spinal cord injuries. She received her Masters in Physical Therapy from Boston University and earned her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from MGH Institute of Health Professions. She is also a member of the International Network Spinal Cord Injury Physiotherapists, has contributed to the APTA Guidelines for Exercising with a SCI, and moderates a chat forum for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

When you have a disability, it is important that you work any and all muscles that you can. Stronger muscles will improve your ability to move. This is true for whatever your goal is – if you want to breath better, transfer better, or get back on your feet! You have to get in shape and you have to challenge yourself. You have to take control of your body!

Not everyone is fortunate enough to live close to an adaptive gym, and I know going to a community gym is not always possible… Then there is the issue with transportation. I understand – if I took me longer to get to my gym than the amount of time I was going to spend there, I would have trouble motivating myself to stick to a routine too!

You can get DVDs to get your sweat on at home, but I am offering an alternative. I
am a physical therapist, and I have started SCI Total Fitness. I put together exercise routines to mainstream music that are changed every week! Having different workouts hopefully prevents boredom, and motivates. Users can access the videos – there is a cardio workout and an interval strength workout – as many times as many times as they want to work out, whenever their schedule allows.

This is not your grandmother’s “Sit and Fit.” You can use as much or as little weight as you feel would make you work – using no weight and going the whole class is not easy! Use a chest strap if you are fighting your balance, especially if you feel a strain in your neck. Stand if you can, or sit on a physioball for a greater challenge. It is your workout, it is up to you to push yourself. Email me if you have any questions about how to modify the routine to fit your needs.

Get on a routine. Just like going to therapy is a routine that you put in to your schedule, pencil in your time to exercise. Make it a priority, and put your health first. Improving your strength and your fitness will maximize your potential!! And yes, I take song requests 😉

Check out my site and feel free to email me at [email protected].

How do you stay in shape? Share your workout tips below…



One response to “SCI Total Fitness: a new way to exercise after a spinal cord injury”

  1. Vicki Hill Kowaleski says:

    I was so excited to see this article! I tried out the free video and realized I was REALLY out of shape. Who knew waving your arms around to music could be so tiring?? Sadly – it is for a C6 quad whose only exercise has been dressing and lifting a fork for the past way too many years since ‘retiring’ from wheelchair racing. So, I signed up for the on line SCI Total Fitness program and we’ll see how it goes! Thanks Kristin : )

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