Ljudmila Zaletelj’s MA Thesis Proposal

Title: “Disability in the gym: Perceptions and understandings of individuals with disability”

Supervisor: Dr. Andrea Bundon (Kinesiology)
Committee Members: Dr. Brian Wilson (Kinesiology), Dr. Peter Crocker (Kinesiology)

Abstract: The proposed study will examine the attitudes, perceptions, and understandings of personal trainers and instructors in regards to disability and people with disabilities. I intend to analyze if and how these perceptions and understandings break down or reinforce barriers for people with disabilities when they visit the gym.

Obtaining and maintaining health is vitally important to people with disabilities, especially when one takes into account the widely acknowledged fact that disability causes detrimental effects on individual’s physical, psychological, and social well-being. Individuals with disabilities report noticeably poorer health (Drum et al., 2005; WHO, 2011) and one of the key reasons for this is their lack of engagement in physical activity and exercise. Considering the fact that disability is part of the human existence and that practically everyone will be temporary or permanently disabled at some point in their lives, we can start to comprehend the enormous importance of addressing the inequalities people with disabilities encounter.

Seeing that trainers and instructors have been identified as a crucial part of a positive gym experience of individuals with disabilities (Richardson et al, 2017b), it is extremely important to explore and uncover their understanding of disability and people with disabilities, as well as better identify the inequalities this population faces when exercising in the gym.

The proposed study, based on interviews with personal trainers and instructors working in the gym environment will fill the gap in the existing literature and address those exact issues, which could result in people with disabilities’ greater participation in the gym and in turn benefit their general wellness, quality of life, and add to their social inclusion.