Gym where differently-abled are trainers

Gym where differently-abled are trainers

Giving instructions to workers fitting air conditioners in his gym, Joginder Saluja, 30, looks every inch an entrepreneur in control of things.

A closer look, however, reveals that the man can walk only with crutches – and you are forced to respect him more.

Running the gym for the last nine years, the former winner at Paralympics Powerlifting National Championship is a source of inspiration for others like him who harbour the dream of representing the country in sports.

“In my teenage years when I used to go to gym, people would ridicule me about how the disabled should be at home rather than lifting weights in a gym,” Saluja says.

“Then I made up my mind that one day I will open a gym where the able- bodied and the disabled all can work out together,” Saluja adds.

Even when Saluja was trying to open his gym people discouraged him, saying how the disabled and the normal people could work out under one roof.

But he went on to open his gym in the basement of a two-storey house in east Delhi’s Vivek Vihar in 2007.

Saluja said he won a gold medal in junior section of ‘strongest man of India’ para powerlifting competition in 2006, and a bronze in the senior version of the same competition held in Jaipur in 2007.  “After that I opened my gym,” Saluja remembers.
Beaming with confidence after winning several para powerlifting awards, Saluja started his gym where he was the only trainer.

Gradually his name spread in the area and people started coming to his gym.
In the gym people with disabilities not only come to train along with able-bodied, some of them go on to become trainers themselves.

“Today we have 200 members in our gym who are trained by six trainers, out of which three are disabled,” Saluja said.

Workout Wonders
In the gym named ‘Workout Wonders’, around 35 differently abled people come every day to exercise.

Seeing people with disabilities working out with them, the others feel an extra sense of motivation.

“Apart from being trained by them, I feel inspired by them. If they can do ir, why can’t we,” says Akash Saxena, a professional dancer and a member of the gym.

Apart from running the gym, Saluja is also waging a battle on behalf of the disabled with both the central and Delhi government.

His says that if an able-bodied sportsman remains national champion for three consecutive years, he becomes entitled to government jobs under the sports quota. However, for a disabled person no such facility is available, he argues.

“Government authorities say that when there is already a quota for us under the disabled category how can we demand a sports quota. But my point is that I became a champion in the powerlifting competition as a sportsperson, not as a disabled man. I am against this discrimination,” Saluja says.

“When PM Modi said that we are Divyang, a person with special ability, then why don’t we get our due and respect; why do we only get sympathy,” Saluja asks.
DH News Service

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