Ability Fitness Center Grand Opening Celebration Press Release

Ability Fitness Center Grand Opening Celebration on April 10th, 2018 at The Arc of Loudoun at Paxton Campus

Leesburg, VA – Ability Fitness Center, a therapeutic fitness and wellness center for people with neurological and developmental disabilities, is pleased to announce the grand opening of its new location in the Williamson Cottage at The Arc of Loudoun at Paxton Campus in historic Leesburg. A grand opening celebration will take place on Tuesday, April 10th at 5:00pm. Mayor Burk will commemorate the celebration with a ribbon cutting, followed by an open house and light refreshments.

Ability Fitness Center opened in November 2017, and in January 2018, the center moved into the Williamson Cottage. Helen Parker, PT, DPT, NCS, Clinical Director of Ability Fitness Center and a neurological physical therapist explains, “Having a larger space allows us to have 6 more clients here at a time exercising and more room for specialized equipment. The new building is also beneficial since it offers an amazing atmosphere that is both welcoming and supportive of all our clients’ goals of becoming healthier and stronger!”

The dream of opening the Ability Fitness Center for people with neurological disabilities, particularly spinal cord injuries started five years ago, with the nonprofit Ability Fitness Center, Inc. (AFC). “When I had my accident 6.5 years ago, I was lucky enough to attend some of the better rehab centers,” says Freddie Hetzel, a founding board member of AFC. He continues, “I learned very quickly that for me to receive any exercise, I would either need to hire a physical therapist to work in my home or travel over an hour each way to a rehab center. As wealthy as our area is, there are no options for this population to exercise, depriving us of the mental and physical benefits from working out with others.  I am eternally grateful to our friends and family for the support they have provided to enable us to solve this problem as we begin our journey of creating a community of hope, healing and health at The Arc of Loudoun at Paxton Campus.”

“We, The Arc of Loudoun, are thrilled to partner with AFC, to fill a need in the community with fitness and wellness to a new population that The Arc has not worked with in the past,” says Melissa Heifetz, Executive Director of The Arc of Loudoun. She continues, “We are also excited that the students with autism and other developmental disabilities from The Aurora School are receiving daily fitness sessions in the new Center.”

Ability Fitness Center is The Arc of Loudoun’s newest program focusing on activity-based interventions that increase functional ability for individuals with spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, cerebral palsy, balance disorders, developmental disabilities, and other neurological conditions. Clients of Ability Fitness Center pay a monthly membership fee and receive access to the Center’s specialized equipment, as well as one-on-one sessions with the Center’s neuro physical therapist. Need-based scholarships are available.

“When someone has a spinal cord injury, stroke, or other neurological diagnosis, they make much slower progress than your typical physical therapy patient. As a result, insurance coverage at most healthcare facilities rarely last long enough for people to reach their true functional potential. After discharge from outpatient therapy, people both want and need to work towards maximizing their function, in order to prevent complications from inactivity. Yet this is often difficult to do on their own, and many cannot exercise in a standard gym. At Ability Fitness Center, we have specialized equipment, expert therapists, knowledge of their diagnoses, and most importantly we are able to offer support both physically and emotionally. We are creating a space where clients can work out together and support each other through their journeys of accomplishments and challenges,” says Parker.

Currently Ability Fitness Center has 22 clients from the community and is serving 19 children from The Aurora School on campus. “The goal is to continue to grow to reach more people in our community that can benefit from our center.  We also want to grow by adding support groups and group classes along with the individual exercise times,” says Parker. 

The Arc of Loudoun at Paxton Campus is a non-profit organization that advocates for, and provides direct service to, children with disabilities, as well as their families and caretakers, through its many programs: The Aurora School, Open Door Learning Center, ALLY Advocacy Center, Aurora Behavior Clinic and Ability Fitness Center. The Arc of Loudoun is celebrating 50 years serving people with disabilities in Loudoun since 1967. To get involved with The Arc of Loudoun you can attend our upcoming spring 2018 events: 50th Anniversary Celebration Gala on April 21st, Ability Fitness Golf Tournament on May 10th,and Music at the Manor Festival on May 19th.

For more information on Ability Fitness Center visit www.paxtoncampus.org/ability-fitness-center or contact Morgan Payne, Marketing and Communications Coordinator for The Arc of Loudoun at Paxton Campus, at mpayne@paxtoncampus.org or by phone at 703.777.1939 ext. 106.

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