Meet the man making exercise accessible for people living with disabilities
Victor Buitendag, who was involved in a motor vehicle accident 28-years-ago, which resulted in a cervical spinal cord injury at the 6th vertebrae founded, WHASCP Adaptive (Wheelchair & Holistic Adaptive Strength and Condition Programs).
JOHANNESBURG - Exercise is great for everyone, it gets the heart racing, improves one's mood and keeps you in shape.
Exercise is said to improve one’s mental health by reducing, depression and negative moods. It can even improve self-esteem, cognitive function and social withdrawal.
But what happens when you can’t access a training facility or a gym is not well-equipped to meet your needs? This is the reality for many differently abled people in South Africa.
And this is why Victor Buitendag, a quadriplegic, started manufacturing accessible gym equipment.
“People with disabilities require specialised fitness equipment to assist them in maximising their physical ability.
"Fitness equipment, in general, is designed and developed for able-bodied users, thus not considering a population in need of health”.
Buitendag who was involved in a motor vehicle accident 28 years ago which resulted in a cervical spinal cord injury at the 6th vertebrae, founded WHASCP Adaptive (Wheelchair & Holistic Adaptive Strength and Condition Programs).
“WHASCP Adaptive now supplies adaptive training equipment, manufactured in South Africa for the needs of our people”.
The quadriplegic is also a fitness coach, a certified Level One CrossFit trainer and ATA ( Adaptive Training Academy) coach.
“Being an international wheelchair rugby athlete for many years, I had to find an activity to substitute my long wheelchair rugby career. Battling excessive weight gain as well as loss in functional mobility due to a more sedentary lifestyle after wheelchair rugby, I decided to find a way to train, and challenge myself.”
He said he found that unlike coaches for most sporting codes, Crossfit coaches were more accessible and willing to host differently abled persons.
“It's a well-known fact, people with disabilities in South Africa find it hard to train and live healthy, mainly due to fitness coaches and fitness venues not being accessible to train or host a person with a disability. I, however, found CrossFit coaches to be accessible, and willing to learn and push functional fitness boundaries."
Buitendag also organises Crossfit meetups for differently abled people in South Africa.
“WHASCP Fitness provides people with disability the opportunity to physically train with an adaptive certified trainer.”
He said people with disabilities found it hard to physically train and stay healthy because of a lack of fitness trainers who had the knowledge on how to train a person with a disability.
“Gymnasiums are mostly not adaptive friendly and have very little if any adaptive equipment available to people with disabilities. This results in people with disabilities, and in many cases, also their families, living unhealthily, as they are excluded from a community that seems to be more health-conscious than ever”.
He said the main goal of WHASCP Adaptive fitness was to create a platform whereby people with all disabilities could train and stay healthy.
“Being successful in both these courses provided a foundation for my passion to live healthily and create the same lifestyle for other people with disabilities”.