Woman and Her Daughter File Lawsuit Against Fitness Club over Lack of Accessibility

Apr 27, 2011
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Carol Shultz, a woman with multiple sclerosis and that uses a wheelchair is suing a central Ohio fitness center for a lack of accessibility.  While the new fitness center, Urban Active, was still being built, Carol Schulz and her daughter signed up during a health fair.  Carol’s daughter, Amy,34, also uses a wheelchair as a result of having transverse myelitis when she was 19. She had planned to use the track to help strengthen her muscles so she could use a manual wheelchair.  Carol was told “they’d helped so many people like me”.

The representative from Urban Active assured them that they’d have an elevator and accessible swimming pool for her warm water exercises.  Instead, the two-story building has no elevator.  The only way to go from the first to second floor is via the stairs.   The pool is only 3 feet deep which is too shallow for warm water exercises.  Also, the areas with exercise machines do not have a clear area for wheelchairs to fit in between them.

Both women have filed a lawsuit against three of the Urban Active Fitness Centers in Ohio.  According to one newspaper, the lawsuit states that the fitness centers are not “accessible to people with disabilities and that Urban Active used fraud to induce them to join”.   Since then, Urban Active has refunded them their membership fees. However, they are still awaiting judgment.  Urban Active is refuting their claims stating they are committed to serving people with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  However, the Americans with Disabilities Act does not call for buildings to have every accessible feature.  For instance, it does not call for elevators in buildings small that are 1 or 3 stories. It is actually the US Access Board that regulates accessible design standards.  Fitness centers are required to have an access route at least 3 feet in between machines so those that use wheelchairs can easily transfer to the machine.  For more information about the US Access board guidelines, please visit http://www.ncpad.org/fun/fact_sheet.php?sheet=286&view=all.For more information about locating accessible fitness centers in your area, please contact the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD) at (800) 900-8086 or ncpad@uic.edu.

Author: Melissa