Fit 4 Recovery: Serving Adaptive Athletes Since 2014
In 2014, Josh Nix started working at a facility dedicated to offering exercise-based service for those with neurological impairments due to spinal cord injuries. But the facility didn’t last long.
It closed within a few months, and Nix, an exercise scientist and long-time CrossFit athlete and coach, didn’t want to abandon his adaptive clients, so he talked to his affiliate owner and began training a handful of clients at his CrossFit gym.
- “The place shut down on a Friday and we started working that at the CrossFit (gym) that next Tuesday,” he remembered of how he was thrown right into it.
Nine years later, Nix is still working with adaptive athletes of all kinds through his program Fit 4 Recovery, which is housed at his gym, CrossFit Hopkins in Hopkins, MN.
- “CrossFit Hopkins is a place where pretty much anybody can workout, (even) if your life has been impacted due to a catastrophic event…We find a safe and effective dose of exercise for (everyone),” he said of his mission.
Getting his program up and running in 2014 was a challenge from the start.
- “I went from being a trainer at a facility that was full of high-tech specialized equipment…and staff to help with transferring people out of their wheelchairs onto an exercise mat to having none of that (and) working out out of an automotive garage at a CrossFit gym,” Nix said, adding that the only equipment he had were yoga mats and some balancing pads, and overdrew his bank account to purchase them.
- “There were a lot of growing pains to figure out the right process and the steps to doing this by myself, and so we just started with what we had, which wasn’t much, and we just kind of figured it out day by day,” he added.
When he first started, Nix wasn’t even sure he had the tools to train those with spinal cord injuries, but he soon learned that there was no reason he couldn’t use dumbbells and barbells, gymnastics rings and plyometric boxes to train his clients.
- “We figured out how to do a very effective means of exercise for people with unique needs with the type of equipment you see in your everyday CrossFit gym,” he said.
His program grew organically, and when COVID hit Nix used it as an opportunity to “hunt for a space,” he said.
He found one and opened CrossFit Hopkins, and the Fit 4 Recovery program in January 2021, a program that now services not only spinal cord injury clients, but also people with various other neurological impairments, nervous system impairments, muscular impairments or imbalances.
- “The range of (who) we work with has grown quite a bit. It’s much more broad now and now it looks a little bit more of a hybrid of CrossFit meets this unique activity-based therapy world,” Nix said, adding that many of his clients come in as referrals from local physical therapists, occupational therapists and doctors.
Though some of his Fit 4 Recovery clients have transitioned to regular CrossFit classes at his gym, the majority of them train during the day with Nix or one of his two coaches in a one-on-one setting, which is needed “due to the level of detail that we work with each person,” he said.
The Big Picture
While it might seem like what Nix does is very different from the average CrossFit coach, he insists it’s all the same: He’s helping people become healthier and fitter.
- “It’s no different and perhaps even more important for my Fit 4 Recovery crew, but instead of fighting to get a new 1 rep max back squat, they might be fighting to get their hand to their mouth, or to be able to drive their wheelchair a little more successfully and with more control, or maybe to be be able to do a standing transfer,” he continued.
Either way, it’s about improving people’s lives.
- “The impact of making people stronger is such a powerful thing…and if we can give people a little bit of help to do that, that’s a pretty exciting reason to show up everyday.”