The city plans to purchase — at the urging of Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin — new cardiovascular equipment for the Tommie Harris Fitness Center at Lions Club Park that will accommodate paraplegic athletes.
“I think it is important that we do not forget our wounded warriors and others with disabilities who still want to benefit from a good workout,” Corbin said.
Corbin requested the city purchase the special equipment when the City Council approved a gym fee hike in September to raise funds for new equipment to replace the 5-year-old devices.
The Lions Club Park gym currently has about 22,000 members and maintains about $184,000 of fitness equipment.
Corbin, a local lawyer, said one of his clients, a paraplegic, had used the city gym but was unable to get the full aerobic workout he needed with the present equipment.
The gym has several cable machines used for resistance weight lifting but nothing specifically for cardiovascular exercise, the mayor said.
“This will be a piece of equipment that will allow them to get their heart rates up,” Corbin said.
The two most common aerobic fitness devices used by paraplegics are the mobile hand cycle and the stationary upper extremity ergometer, Tammy Beeler, a kinesiotherapist at the VA North Texas Health Care System, said.
“More and more fitness centers are incorporating this type of equipment into their facilities,” Beeler said.
Like a stationary bicycle turned upside down, the upper extremity ergometer fits into a gym weight room setting and is easily adjustable to meet the body types of different athletes, Beeler said.
The hand bike is more specialized to fit individual athletes because, like a regular bicycle, it travels over the ground.
Both devices are popular, Beeler said, and can provide a necessary level of fitness for athletes without the use of their legs.
“You can really utilize these to help them meet their health goals,” Beeler said.
At the VA North Texas Hospital in Fort Worth, Beeler and her colleague, physical therapist Dee Collazo, work with disabled veterans on a daily basis.
They said cardiovascular exercise is very important for physical, mental and emotional recovery.
“We encourage our veterans to stay physically active because we know that the more physically fit the better it is for their overall well-being,” Beeler said.
Going to the gym can also help veterans reintegrate into the community, Beeler said.
“Life doesn’t stop with an injury and you can still do what you used to do by just finding a different way of doing it.”