Over the summer, 20 dedicated KNS students led an intense but fun exercise class for some amazing individuals. All 8 people in the class had spinal cord injuries and were wheelchair users. The KNS students were asked to develop exercises for improving strength and cardiovascular fitness. People with spinal cord injuries have many obstacles that make exercise challenging so the students had their work cut out for them.
The exercise class was part of the DREAM project at Cal State LA. This is a federally-funded research project awarded to KNS faculty Dr. Stefan Keslacy, Dr. Christine Dy and Dr. Ray de Leon as well as Dr. Deborah Won (ENG) and Dr. Roxy Pebdani (Rehab Counseling). The goal is to help motivate people with spinal cord injuries to exercise.
What the KNS students came up with was a one-of-a-kind program that included spinning, boxing, Zumba, basketball/rugby moves and weight training with elastic bands. A playlist of hip-hop, reggae, jazz and 80’s music set the tone. By all accounts, the class was an overwhelming success. Here’s what some of the students, participants and faculty had to say:
What did you get out of the experience of being a trainer?
While being on the DREAM project, I got to experience the feeling like I'm on a team, where our main goal was to train and motivate those with SCI. What was inspiring to me was watching everyone working together, between the trainers and between trainers with the SCI participants. Building that bond and creating a special relationship was what I enjoyed the most. – Cindy Lam, KNS student and DREAM fellow
What did you as a participant think of the KNS students who trained you?
First it was very professional. I really like to thank my trainer Tossho for training me and understand my disability to workout with me. I had a blast learning about the exercise program. Having a trainer by your side helps motivated me to push harder and to reach my goals. Not only did I learn, my trainer also learned something from me too. Anyone that's disabled wants to better themselves everyday but we all need help. We just needed a boost and having a trainer that knows how to accommodate and works with disabled is a plus for me and B, what better way to workout when you're having fun at the same time and bettering yourself everyday. My favorite quote is " Never mourn the pass, young warrior ". – VV, participant in the DREAM project
What did the researchers learn from these exercise sessions?
These amazing KNS students and incredible participants taught us so much. For research, we know what kinds of things are motivating, like social support, music, competition and interestingly, mobile apps and social media play an important role. But from a personal standpoint, I am even more appreciative of the KNS students and participants for what they taught me this summer. In between all the grunting and sweating, there was a lot of high-fiving, smiling and laughing. When the session was over, I always left that room feeling really good. I saw a lot of good being done by great people. – Dr. Ray de Leon, KNS faculty member and DREAM project investigator