Weekly Feature



2018-01-17 / Lifestyles

Moving Miracles offers training program for individuals with disabilities

by HOLLY N. LIPKA
Reporter


Individuals in the program work out using resistance bands with assistance from instructors Emelie Obrochta and Melvin Jackson. From left are Obrochta, Dan Krzak, Latasha Dickenson, Tim Barrows, Jackson and Kathy Conte. 
Photos by Sarah McIlhatten Individuals in the program work out using resistance bands with assistance from instructors Emelie Obrochta and Melvin Jackson. From left are Obrochta, Dan Krzak, Latasha Dickenson, Tim Barrows, Jackson and Kathy Conte. Photos by Sarah McIlhatten For 20 years, Moving Miracles Dance Studio in West Seneca has served thousands of individuals with developmental disabilities.

To expand its services beyond the dance realm, Moving Miracles now offers a small-group personal training program. Participants enrolled in the program learn about healthy lifestyle choices, body awareness and how to use exercise equipment, all in a safe and non-threatening environment.

“Some of our individuals have grown out of dance, but it’s important to keep them moving and focused on the fundamentals of movement,” said Sheila Dollas, founder and director of Moving Miracles. “Our students could go to a gym and work out, but they won’t get that type of education and support that you get here.”


Personal trainer Emelie Obrochta helps Danny Krzak stretch before working out. Personal trainer Emelie Obrochta helps Danny Krzak stretch before working out. The studio oversees the program, but it was established by sasi, a nonprofit organization that provides services for people with disabilities to help them live meaningful lives.

Each 45-minute session consists of a warm-up with stretching followed by strength-training exercises. Participants learn the proper technique when exercising with weights, resistance bands, bench press equipment, the lat pull-down machine and cable crossover station.

Cardio is also an element of their workout, and students often walk on the treadmill or ride a stationary bike.

“This opportunity is not available to them anywhere else,” said personal trainer Emelie Obrochta. “You can really tell what movements speak to them or help them come out of their shell. That’s always a good feeling to see.”

If students lack a full range of motion or use a wheelchair, equipment in the studio can be modified to their needs.

“On our bike, we can take the seat out and pull up a wheelchair. When we’re using the cable crossover, there’s a cuff we can use to secure their hand to the handle. It’s great because we’re introducing movements to them that they wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.”

Each student in the session, four students per class, is paired up with Obrochta or a volunteer fitness coach. The majority of volunteers are students who come from colleges such as the University at Buffalo and D’Youville College.

“They all get one-on-one attention, and nobody is alone on the equipment,” she said. “The whole point of the program is that it’s personalized to them. If they feel lost, they always have someone right there guiding and modifying.”

Not only does the program improve overall fitness and health, but also it allows individuals to socialize with others who have disabilities.

“Socialization is what the parents really crave and appreciate for their children,” said Dollas. “Out of that socialization, people have developed longstanding friendships. I know they have birthday parties together and have gone on camping trips and vacations together. They grow and support each other.” Before implementing the program, Dollas ran a 12-week pilot program to see its effects. On the last day, Dollas asked the class how they felt. One student told Dollas, “I feel changed.”

“That was everything for me to keep pushing and driving this program forward,” said Dollas.

The program was kick-started with funds by The John R. Oishei Foundation. For a three-month package, the cost is $195 per participant, plus a one-time, nonrefundable $30 registration fee. Scholarships are also available for those who meet financial eligibility requirements.

The studio is located at 954 Union Road in the Southgate Plaza. Moving Miracles is also looking to hire another fitness instructor for the program.

For more information or to register for the program, call Moving Miracles at 656-1321 or visit www.movingmiracles.org.

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