The story.

Last fall, QLI decided they wanted to reimagine accessible fitness for their patients. QLI is an Omaha-based nonprofit that provides unmatched post-hospital rehabilitation for people with brain and/or spinal cord injuries. They care for individuals with everything from Parkinsons to Gillian-Barre to spinal cord injuries.

So in October, Steph Roob, Director of Nutritional Services for QLI Omaha, reached out to Stacie Tovar about starting a CrossFit program specifically for patients at their facility.

Tovar was on board right away. “Our vision is to tie fitness together, to help them long term, and to tie the community together through fitness,” she told us in a phone interview.

That’s what it’s all about.

After months of planning and coordinating, they kicked off the program at CrossFit Omaha in June. Two of CrossFit Omaha’s coaches go out to the QLI facility, twice a week for three hours. “The same coach goes every time for the 12 weeks each program runs. We know their needs, their wants, goals and background,” Tovar said.

Program attendance has more than doubled since the launch and patients are seeing the same kind of success as everday CrossFitters across the globe.

“Every day you push yourself to the point of failure,” said Chad Arnold, who graduated from QLI’s spinal cord injury rehabilitation program earlier this spring. “But then you get further beyond. To have people around you who truly believe you can stomach going beyond your limits, you start to believe it, too. You gain the strength to become your own hero. That confidence, that community — it changes your life.”

Same goals, different scaling. 

“It’s no different than in the box. We measure everything; how long it takes them to get out of their chair, how long it takes them to stand up if they can, how many steps they can take unassisted. It’s no different than a CrossFit benchmark WOD. Thirty get in and out of your chairs is no different than Grace,” Tovar said.

Stacie plans to keep the program running with QLI and CrossFit Omaha. “It’s really about breaking it down to the most basic fundamentals, because at the end of the day that is all they want. They just want their life back.”


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