"I met a guy that got blown up."
Founder & CEO, David Vobora said when asked what inspired him to start ATF or Adaptive Training Foundation.
"Staff Sergeant Travis Mills, was combat injured and lost all four limbs ...One of five living quadruple amputees. I challenged him to workout one day and after a few jokes he took a chance... we then realized there was void in the lives of those who have experienced trauma and a need for access and inclusion to fitness. With inclusion comes an opportunity to shift perceptions for all gym-goers and realize that they could tap into a deeper potential...That their perceived limitations aren't quite as big as they think."
Walk through the doors of ATF, to find an elite gym full of your typical weights and not-so typical gravity-defying treadmills. The ATF logo shines bright on the back wall and the flags of U.S. military and country hang from the shafts. There's an overwhelming sense of fortitude that you simple can't ignore. Vobora says, "You walk in and it repositions your priorities for the day and your mindset towards what you felt was holding you back."
The athletes here don't make excuses and don't believe in "I can't." If fact if you're caught with any such negativity in this gym, you'll have to do time in the "Sympathy Box," a small taped off square smack-dab in the middle of them gym. With all eyes on you...you're sure to change your mindset real quick. The athletes here form a tribe that recognizes each athlete is an integral part to the sum of the whole community.
The foundation of this tribe is to help people close the gap between who they think they are and who they know they can be.
Adaptive Training Foundation empowers those with physical disabilities to transform their lives through exercise and community. There are over 40 million Americans registered with some level of disability and Dallas reaches the top of the list of number of amputees living in the city. Their goal is not to open more gyms, but to train & certify trainers that are fit with the knowledge and skill set to bring inclusiveness for adaptive athletes and people with disabilities to gyms that already exist across the country.
ATF currently has 20 trainers and 8 full-time staff. Each room in the gym has been designed intentionally. From the space, to the lighting, and the actions that take place in those room, everything has a purpose. Specifically, inside the recalibrate room, the therapists work on semantic emotional release and fear facing capabilities. The athletes are given emotional tools to be able to process subconscious emotions and memories to use them as a powerful force in their lives and not an invisible crutch. They learn harness fear in a way that is growth inducing and not paralyzing.
The athletes apply online to be a part of the ATF The flagship 9-week Redefine Program where there will be 12-15 adaptive athletes with similar or very different pathologies. The goal is to blend veteran & civilian, male & female, amputee & spinal cord injury and so on to build a cohesive tribe that although the limitations may be different... the human trauma is synonymous. The athletes have exercises based on their unique pathology and a recharge program built around mindfulness and using breath as an anchor. This gives them tools to consciously respond, instead of unconsciously react, to everyday situations. The program uses both Rest & Relax and Fight vs. Flight processed in order to help the athletes become a conscious being that understands they are in control of where they put their focus and attention to derive their emotions and feelings. ATF focuses on building the whole self...mind, body, & spirit.
These athletes are great examples of overcoming fear and uncertainty from a diagnosis and embodying the positivity of knowing "this too shall pass." Which in the light of the COVID Pandemic is an encouragement to anyone with fears of what this Pandemic holds.
Adaptive Training foundation is a partner to Carry The Load, whose mission to restore the true meaning of Memorial Day has grown to include more than just our military heroes and more than just the one holiday. Carry The Load works to bring all Americans together to participate in honoring our nation’s heroes every day. Typically every year there is a 24-hour walk and go further than what is comfortable to pay tribute to and 'carry' those heroes who have lost their lives. This year the Carry the Load is going virtual and switching to a drive with decorated cars.
ATF carries four athletes they've lost.
Stephen Jackel, Sergeant in US Army, ATF Class 5
Jason Arwine, Sergeant in USMC, ATF Class 6
Trevor Toberny, Dallas Fire Department, ATF Class 7
Douglas Whitworth, Texas Highway Patrolman, ATF Class 17
Hari Mari was introduced to ATF through our Freedom Flops Program. A Program that came about after a family member of an amputee veteran, Corporal Jacob Schick, asked us if we could make flip flops for prosthetic legs. The Freedom Flops Program now provides flip flops designed specifically for prosthetics. It's the least we can do to supply a little bit of this everyday-freedom feeling to those who have given so much for our greater Freedom.
This Memorial Day, we too, Carry Sergeant Jackel, Sergeant Arwine, Trevor, & Douglas.