Getting Physical


Rick hits the gym at 1:00 pm sharp. His trainer is waiting for him at the door. It’s nearly impossible to tell who is more excited.

“If all my clients had as much enthusiasm as Rick, I would be in good shape,” said Gold’s Gym Personal Trainer Shane Shubert.

Rick resides in one of HopeTree’s Salem DDM homes and has been one of our more physically active residents. A long-time Special Olympian, Rick enjoyed half-court basketball for many years. However, his agility and stamina started to decline and he transitioned to the skills competitions. Just as his basketball playing was on the wane, his declining physical condition hampered his regular working abilities as well.

“Rick reached the point he couldn’t complete the physical tasks his job required and he had to stop working. So we started searching for a solution,” said his sister, Ellen Stover.

During 2016, Rick participated in a citizen’s police academy and thoroughly enjoyed learning about police procedure. Stover recalled that Rick’s favorite part of the day was the physical training that took place in the gym. She consulted a local health club hoping to find a trainer who could meet Rick’s needs.

“Everyone instantly said Shane was the best,” Stover said.

Shubert, a certified personal trainer with more than 20 years of experience, started Rick on a carefully designed training regimen he conducts two days a week.

“We’ve been working on a little bit of strength and endurance, but we’ve primarily focused on stability and mobility. We’ve been strengthening his hips and legs to make him more mobile and teaching him how to focus on his center of gravity,” Shubert explained.

After six weeks of conditioning, Rick has made incredible progress. Physical tasks like tossing a ball while shuffling from side to side are now easy for him. When Rick began training, simply catching the ball was a tremendous challenge. But the workouts are not merely focused on sports related achievement.


“What we do is functional fitness. His body is retaining muscle memory. If he is at home and has to do something on his own, he won’t bend over to pick up something with his back and hurt himself. He will squat and use his legs to lift like he is supposed to. It’s not about seeing how big and bulky you can get,” Shubert said.

Stover says that HopeTree’s DDM program has been tremendously beneficial for Rick’s overall wellbeing. He has excellent opportunities for personal, social, and spiritual growth. She proudly points out that Rick has lost substantial weight while at HopeTree, but as he has aged, he has needed additional assistance in maintaining his peak physical condition. That’s where Shubert and Gold’s Gym have been crucial.

Shubert has worked with many individuals with intellectual disabilities over his career, although Rick is by far the oldest. However, he says that in terms of enthusiasm, few have ever matched Rick’s enjoyment. That enthusiasm is paying off. Stover and Shubert are confident Rick’s increased physical ability will make him far healthier in the long run, and may even help him regain his former job in the short run.

“It’s a lot of fun. I love it,” Rick says of his work outs.

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