Ability 360

The first United States Wheelchair Football League tournament took place at West World in the fall of 2021. The game is played 7 on 7 (all players must have a disability that impacts their lower body to participate) on a 60 yard field – tackles are one hand touch above the waist. Nine teams have joined the league since its inception.

 

Warm, welcome and willing to adapt: this is all part of Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center’s efforts to encourage independent living and self-determination for the disabled community. 

The gym has been making a difference to those with disabilities over the past decade. It’s part of a larger nonprofit that’s helped with disability advocacy, home care and employment around the Valley since 1981.

Located in Phoenix, the 45,000-square-foot building offers numerous fitness programs for people with disabilities and their families.

Vice President and General Manager Gus LaZear said that the future is bright for the company.

“In recent times, as we have navigated in a manner of virtual, in-person, and hybrid programming, we saw an initial dip in our membership. However, we are gaining steam and on the path of pre-covid numbers by the end of 2022,” LaZear said.

Ability360 remains focused on improving quality of life through various programs, including personal training, outdoor activities, rock climbing, fitness classes and more.

They offer state-of-the-art equipment ranging from adaptive power racks for weightlifting to lap and therapy pools with chairlifts and elevator entries. 

As the first facility of its kind in the western U.S., Ability360 hosts competitive sports programs and is home to the 360 Heat wheelchair rugby team. Wheelchair lacrosse, sitting volleyball, and Wounded Warrior clinics for veterans are also offered.

The fitness room has a selection of strength and cardio equipment that wheelchair users can roll right up to. There are two full-size sports courts, a 35-foot rock-climbing wall, an indoor suspended track, and an aquatic center.

Water aerobics, adaptive rowing, circuit training, and yoga are just a few of the popular fitness sessions offered in addition to educational nutrition classes.

“Our facility was built with purpose and intention to serve people with disabilities, using universal design for easy access to various equipment and areas of our facility,” LaZear said. “When our members walk or roll through our front doors, they know this environment is warm, welcome and willing to adapt.”

Ability360 started in 1977 as the Arizona Congress for Action (ACA), a grassroots effort to raise awareness of disability-related issues. Government funding in the early 80s allowed Ability360 to officially start offering disability support services, which have expanded considerably to include more health and fitness solutions. Today Ability360 has 130 staff members, 2,500 personal care attendants, and hundreds of volunteers across the Phoenix metro area.

The Ability360 Center celebrates collaborative programming with several disability-related organizations on the campus, such as Arizona Autism United and Raising Special Kids.

“As an organization with over 40 years of service to the community, we look forward to continuing and growing our programs. We recognize daily how fortunate we are to serve the community in the manner we do,” LaZear said. “Our campus is unique, and we encourage people to come down for a tour or join us for a group fitness class.”

ability360.org