Category Archives: Arm bike

Learning to Ride a Bike

My Dad has always been a huge supporter of me living an “unlimited life”. He never wanted me to be left out of anything because of my disability. When I was little he would help me climb into trees and forts, he took me ice skating and sledding, He and Mom bought me a swing for the backyard play set, and helped my climb a rock wall at fifth grade camp. He has put me on a horse and a Harley – Davidson; he even tried to take me on a helicopter, but mom put the kibosh on that one.

The thing that sticks out the most in my memory, however, was Dad’s campaign to get me on a bike. This campaign lasted well through high school, but it started when we were four and my twin sister and I got big wheels for Christmas. In case you didn’t know, twins always get the same Christmas gifts, it’s in the twin handbook. So even though there seemed to be no physical way for me to ride a big wheel, my dad saw this as a challenge, instead of a hindrance. When my feet kept slipping off the pedals he simply screwed a pair of my tiny shoes to the bike; which solved the slipping issue, but not the coordination issue.

Next, Dad tried a go-cart. He took the wheels off my big sister’s Radio Flyer wagon, a fact she is still slightly perturbed about, and made the body out of wood. He painted the whole thing bubblegum pink, strapped me in using an old belt and sent me off down a hill. It took me approximately six seconds crash into the curb. Turns out, I couldn’t steer, and Dad forgot to add brakes.

When I was 11 or 12 years old, my Mom found an old adult tricycle with a motor and gifted it to me. The motor was shot, but we put some Velcro straps on the pedals, and we found that I could propel myself if I was given a push to get started. That summer, my sister and I spent a lot of time on that bike; we would walk around the block with it, and when we got to the big hill at the top, she would jump in the basket and we would go flying down the hill. I never used the brakes, but I didn’t hit any curbs either. I grew stronger, but I still had trouble with the hills and inclines, so we rigged a pulley system that would help in pulling my legs up, which was where I was having trouble.

It is funny now to look back on these memories; nowadays they have all sorts of adapted cycles for those with and without disabilities. I can just imagine my dad saying to himself, why didn’t I think of that? But his efforts were not in vain; it is from him that I learned how a little creativity and hard work goes a long way, and that as long as you keep trying, you’re bound to get it right eventually.

Getting an Adapted (and Inexpensive) Workout at Home’s face it, it’s not easy getting a workout when you have limited mobility. It’s not like you can just buy an old pair of running shoes and become a marathoner out of the blue. Ummm not that easy…

And on top of that, many of us could never afford one of those expensive adapted workout machines. Vitaglide, those beautiful universal gyms for wheelchair-users, a $2,000 handbike….they all sound great, if you’re loaded that is. This is why I’m a huge fan of getting my workout at home. There is no way I could ever afford any of these prices.

Even if could afford the equipment, I would have nowhere to put it in my tiny place. What are we supposed to do then? It’s not like a mainstream workout club offers everything we need.

So since I refused the “no option” option, I figured out some smart ways to get a workout at home without wasting a boatload of money. It wasn’t easy, but I now have a few solid go-to’s. Check them out below.

Adapted workout DVDs

One of the first things that came to mind on my quest of working out at home on the cheap was of course the stand by – workout videos. All I could picture though were Jane Fonda and Billy Blank’s Tae-Bo videos….were there any videos for people with disabilities? After a quick search online I found out in fact that yes there were, and they were amazing.

I was thrilled. There are in fact severaladapted workout videos out there for people with disabilities, and featured a variety of workout styles . And even better, many of these are available for free on YouTube. A quick “wheelchair workout video” search will uncover dozens.

There are also several more you can purchase on I am in one of them in fact. It’s called Beyond Disability, an at-home yoga practice DVD showing how to do yoga in your wheelchair. This video was produced by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and was created by the yoga studio I go to (founded by paraplegic Matthew Sanford), Mind Body Solutions.

This DVD gives you an hour-long yoga workout. It’s much cheaper than going to an adapted yoga class, especially if there are non any available near you anyways. There are also several workout DVDs for people disabilities on other workouts like aerobics, cross-fit, weight lifting and Zumba.

Wii Boxing

A heck of a lot cheaper than going to boxing classes, buying a used Wii for around $50 – $75 dollars is one of the best things you can buy to get a workout at home.  Every Wii should come with the default Sports game, and this is the game you want because it includes the boxing game.

It also has bowling, baseball, tennis and a few others. When you play the boxing game, even a five minute session can make you start huffing and puffing. Who knew boxing was such a good workout?  If you really want to get a cardio workout, just play the boxing game for an hour and you’ll burn around 680 calories.

Seated Aerobics

You can also make up your own seated aerobics and do it at home. I actually do this quite often, however I would never have the guts to do it in front of anybody (lol). I just turn up my favorite music and start to jam out. My aerobics definitely tend to be more on the “dancey” side, and that’s just find too. Whenever it takes to get you to move your body. I always find myself doing a lot of arm punches.


Even if you don’t buy the yoga DVD, you can just make up your own yoga poses at home.  Don’t go crazy and stretch your body in weird ways, but also do what feels good. Yoga is very much that. Or…you can go to a few class, learn some poses, then you can confidently begin your at-home practice.  If you aren’t sure you can do it alone, have your PCAs or a friend help you hold your poses.

Arm Biking

The one piece of adapted workout equipment that’s actually pretty affordable is everyone’s favorite – the classic arm bike, such as the Mini Pedal Exerciser Bike FitnessExercise Cycle Leg/Arm with LCD Display.

All you need to do is put this on a table, pull up to it and begin peddling.You will get a great cardio workout from this too, burning around 500 calories in an hour.

So there you have it. You don’t have to be drowning in extra money to get the workout you deserve. With a little bit of digging and smart thinking, you really can work out at home in spite of a disability. See, the workout Gods can be kind; you just got to work with them.

Are you disabled? How do you get a great workout at home?

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