Abby’s Path to SPIRIT CLUB

I’ll never forget my first introduction to SPIRIT Club. I was a senior in college at Iowa State University, exploring potential internship opportunities for my final semester as a Kinesiology and Public Health major. There were two things I wanted: to move to the D.C. area, and to find an organization that was making hands-on changes to community health by implementing programs that improved people’s lives! I received a call from my advisor saying I should Google SPIRIT Club and that they were a gym just outside D.C. that supported people with disabilities. I remember taking that call between sets of my workout while sweating at the gym, knowing that I wanted in before even looking this place up. I couldn’t wait!

When I arrived that summer, I quickly learned how fiercely connected the disability community was in Montgomery County. The atmosphere at SPIRIT Club was very supportive, friendly, and inviting. Families of those with disabilities were really the backbone (and still are!) of SPIRIT Club’s network and reach. The warmth and openness of the local SPIRIT Club members is what turned my summer internship into a career I’m proud of today.

While there are countless options for a gym membership in the D.C. area, SPIRIT Club stands alone with a unique and inclusive approach to fitness. Our model focuses on applying a lens of universal design to group classes and personal training and requires Trainers to approach each session ready to lead a challenging workout that’s scalable, functional, and fun for everyone. Regardless if you’re an athlete or a beginner. SPIRIT Club’s expertise and experience in leading exercise programs for people with disabilities has been central to our mission and has continuously set us apart from standard gyms. This includes creating fitness opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, people on the Autism Spectrum, or those with other physical disabilities. Everyone should be able to have access to the same, high-quality fitness programs, no matter their ability.

My time at SPIRIT Club has always been fueled by my positive relationships with members, passion for community health, and desire to bridge the gap in health disparities for populations who need it most. Since officially joining the team in 2017, I took a brief hiatus to work in healthcare in 2021 and to pursue my Master of Healthcare Administration. While working in healthcare, I found myself eager to get back on the ground as a Trainer to help people take control of their health more directly. In May of 2023, I officially returned to SPIRIT Club as our Northern Virginia Program Manager to help bring our programs to the NOVA Community.

If I’ve learned anything in the last seven years at SPIRIT Club, it’s that one’s approach to fitness and health should be personal. It should make you want to get out of bed in the morning, make you excited to hit your goals, and make you feel proud of your ability. SPIRIT Club strives to highlight everyone’s ability, at every stage. I couldn’t be prouder of our growth and expansion efforts, and look forward to serving more people the Northern Virginia region!