Auburn University’s Adaptive Fitness program creates opportunities for individuals with disabilities

AUBURN UNIVERSITY – When Franklin Butts first began exercising with Auburn University’s Adaptive Fitness program, he could not push his wheelchair very far at a time. For the past seven years, Butts has continued to get stronger while participating with the Adaptive Fitness program and recently rolled his first 5k. He credits the training he received from the program for his success.

“The goal of the program is to cater to individuals with disabilities, specifically students, faculty, staff and anyone in the Auburn community,” said Ford Dyke, kinesiology graduate student and program assistant. “The focus is on accessible weight and cardiovascular training and assisted exercise in a relaxed and supportive atmosphere.”

The Adaptive Fitness program was started when professors Yong Tai Wang and Wendi Weimar discovered that individuals who use wheelchairs had severely weakened shoulder muscles. To address the problem, they collaborated with the School of Kinesiology and the Office of Accessibility to develop an exercise program to aid wheelchair users. Now in its 14th year, the program has expanded to include other physical disabilities and continues to grow.

“It’s a great program for anyone with a disability,” Butts said. “It has made a big difference in my life.”

Butts and fellow participants use a weight room equipped with specialized, wheelchair- accessible machines including the NuStep recumbent cross trainer and hand bikes not found in a standard gym.

“I offer assistance, however, their workout routine is really up to them,” Dyke said. “I suggest ways they can pace themselves and focus on using the facilities to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

The Adaptive Fitness program is a partnership of the Auburn University School of Kinesiology and Auburn University’s Adaptive Recreation and Athletics. Throughout the year, the program is held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum, room 1129. The program is free, and those interested in joining can email Ford Dyke at or visit room 1129 in the Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum.

(Written by Lindsay Miles.)

Contacts: Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing (334) 844-9999 (, or Charles Martin, Office of Communications and Marketing (334) 844-9999 (