Yuma, AZ (February 7, 2018) – Oscar Quintero isn’t going to let being blind hold him back from accomplishing his goals of becoming a personal trainer and competing as a nationally ranked athlete.
With the help of his guide dog Ceylon, Oscar takes the Yuma County Area Transit to Arizona Western College twice a week to receive adaptive training and instruction.
AWC Fitness Instructor and Certified Personal Trainer Alan Pruitt works one-on-one with Oscar to ensure that he’s not only prepared to pass his personal training exam, but that he is also able to maintain a healthy and fit lifestyle as well.
Oscar regularly competes in tournaments for goalball, a Paralympic sport developed after WWII as a way for veterans to stay active. Although Oscar enjoys a number of other sports and activities too, sometimes staying motivated can be a challenge – and that’s where Alan comes in.
When the two started working together last semester, Alan started adapting various workouts and equipment he uses as a strength and conditioning coach for the AWC Women’s Basketball team and tailored them specifically to meet Oscar’s needs. Alan is a grant funded adaptive athlete specialist through the VA and holds multiple national athletic coaching certifications in adaptive sports, running, indoor rowing, swimming, and sports performance.
“It actually motivates you more when you have someone next to you that’s helping you accomplish your goals and keeping track of everything,” said Oscar.
On the rowing machine, for example, Alan encourages Oscar to progressively get stronger by telling him to pull faster or row for a farther distance. Alan also adapted the machine with audio feedback equipment that measures Oscar’s progress while simultaneously comparing his statistics with other rowers around the world.
“We’ve adapted other equipment in the gym to help him as well, so he lifts weights and he does body weight exercises. We have everything for him to build strength and endurance as well as any other student or staff or athlete here at the Fitness Center,” said Alan.
“The nice thing about strength training is the weights don’t know that you’re visually impaired or sighted; it’s testing his muscles and not his ability to see.”
Next, Oscar wants to start tandem cycling and also training in the swimming pool when the weather warms up.
“Oscar wants to do it all,” said Alan. “As long as Oscar wants to stay active and has plans, I’m there to make those plans happen for him.”
AWC Coordinator of Physical and Wellness Education Jane Peabody shared that all fitness courses at the college – like personal training, fitness training, weight training, and exercise for special populations – can be adapted based on a person’s particular need or disability.
“If you are paralyzed, if you are blind, if you are hard of hearing, whatever disability you may have, we actually don’t look at it as a disability, we look at it more like a challenge as to what we can do to help you achieve a healthy lifestyle,” said Jane.
She wants to encourage veterans and winter visitors to enroll in the program as well if they have any physical challenges they want to work through.
“I want to invite these people into our program and give them an opportunity to see their lives change like Oscar’s and our other students,” she said.
Over the last semester, Jane has noticed that Oscar has become more confident. Other students in the program have made positive strides forward as well.
Oscar also shared that he feels like his adaptive training is making a difference; he feels like he’s getting stronger.
“My core and my lower body used to be really weak. I felt like addressing it pretty quickly, because I want to be a trainer. I’ll need to show my clients what they need to do and demonstration is going to be a big part of that,” said Oscar.
“This program has helped me a lot. I’m grateful to Alan and Jane. Also thanks to AWC for taking a big step on adaptive training. Other colleges have it and AWC is doing a very good job of stepping up.”
Coordinator of Physical and Wellness Education
Arizona Western College