New Las Vegas gym helps those with disabling injury or disease

Bicycles, treadmills and weightlifing machines are lined up in rows in a small fitness center in downtown Las Vegas.

But unlike most, this facility wasn’t designed with the able-bodied in mind. Note the G-EO System, a gait trainer for people relearning to walk, and the wheelchair accessibility of all weight-training equipment.

DRIVEN NeuroRecovery Center, a nonprofit fitness facility, opens Monday as a new option for those looking to regain physical strength after a disabling injury or neurological condition, such as a stroke, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease.

Built as an accessible and judgment-free zone, the gym is meant to serve as a place of community support and emotional healing, along with physical improvement, said founder Sam Schmidt, himself a quadriplegic for nearly 19 years after crashing during practice for the Indy Racing League.

“What this is really meant to be is a center hub,” Schmidt said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday.

Joined by his wife, Sheila, the center’s executive director Brandi Kurka and Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, Schmidt said the gym would be a gathering point for people living with similar conditions to connect with one another and provide information on resources that help them go about their day-to-day lives.

In addition to the workout machines, the space includes a yoga and meditation room. DRIVEN, run under the umbrella of Conquer Paralysis Now, Schmidt’s nonprofit dedicated to spinal cord injury research and treatment, partnered with NextStep Fitness to provide physical trainers who specialize in helping those with disabilities.

Shaina Meyer, rehab manager at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center, said until now, there hasn’t been a local gym where she could refer her patients.

Meyer said she hopes DRIVEN fills that gap.

“People who have a chronic, progressive disease that’s not going away, they need to continue — it needs to be a lifestyle of working out,” she said.

The fitness center will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. A basic fitness membership costs $40 per month with a year-long agreement, or $50 month-to-month. Other membership and personal training options are available.

For more information, contact the center at 702-463-4874.

Contact Jessie Bekker at jbekker@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4563. Follow @jessiebekks on Twitter.

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