EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio (WYTV) — Surrounded by her workout class members, Elaine Gardner started to tear up as she was handed her 33 WYTV Hometown Hero Award — all because she started a class that is designed for those with special needs.
“My son is my inspiration for everything. He’s literally why I do everything that I do,” said Gardner.
All Abilities Fitness began back in March with RAM Fitness in East Liverpool. However, it was something that was in the works for about a year. Gardner’s son Isaiah has special needs.
“I knew then that I wanted to do something to serve not just him but other people like him,” said Gardner.
Gardner is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and special needs trainer. She understands how important it is for people of all abilities to move their body.
“People with special needs are more prone to diabetes and heart disease. So I knew that I wanted to do something to serve them and prolong their life and give them the quality of life that their typical peers have,” said Gardner.
Gardner has a couple partners in all of this — Charlie Dolnosich and Randy Heffner. He has a child with special needs as well. Heffner believes working out is for everyone.
“It’s not that they can’t do it. Everybody can do everything. There’s always a way for everyone to do it, and that’s what we kinda wanted to show,” said Heffner.
The classes are every Saturday. The workouts range from agility training to ropes to core work and everything in between. Gardner said it’s much more than just working out.
“This group that we have, I mean they inspire me to want to be a better person. Seeing them overcome challenges or somebody coming for the first time,” said Gardner.
Program members said they love how Gardner pushes them to be their best. We’re told she’s a very special person.
“We’ve been blessed to have her here. She’s really dedicated. She really inspires me,” said Heffner.
Gardner said her faith also has something to do with the success of this program.
“When your kid is diagnosed with a disability or a special need, your first instinct is to question God, ‘Why?’ and throughout my son’s life and especially right now I know why,” said Gardner.
More information on this fitness program can be found here.