Let me start by saying I’m able-bodied.
The Breeze’s opinion piece “Exercise, because it’s a privilege,” is unfortunately misguided.
As someone who recently started her fitness journey, I tried to be cognizant of my reason for doing so. I knew that aiming for a healthy lifestyle — as opposed to a “beach body” — would set me up for success. I also know that that reason is mineand mine alone. Exercising — or not exercising — is a deeply personal and individual process for every single person. I shouldn’t have to justify why I’m exercising or be told why youthink I should exercise.
But more than the “why” of exercising, gatekeeping the “who” is a slippery slope that doesn’t lead to a greater understanding of differently-abled bodies, but instead a deeper divide.
Believing that exercising is a privilege for those who are able-bodied — while well-intentioned — is dangerously uninformed. A wheelchair user may not exercise the same way that I do, but no doubt if a differently-abled person was determined to exercise, they would create a routine best suited to their needs — except, perhaps, the profoundly disabled. In fact, everyone needs to tailor their fitness journey to achieve their end-goals, regardless of ability. Not believing a wheelchair ramp is necessary because you can take the stairs? That’s able-bodied privilege.
On a larger scale, disabilities don’t seem to be stopping athletes who participate in the Paralympics, founded in 1960. I guarantee any of those athletes would kick my able-bodied ass.
Kelsey Harding is a ‘16 JMU alum. Contact Kelsey at email@example.com.