Growing up, Logan Aldridge played loads of sports including football, soccer, baseball, basketball and lacrosse. When he was 13, he was involved in a wakeboarding accident and he subsequently needed to have his left arm amputated — Aldridge was left-handed. After his recovery, he became an adaptive athlete and ultimately a coach. He’s now a Peloton instructor offering adaptive training with strength classes that are seated and standing.
After recovering from my accident, I returned to school and jumped back into sports, participating in high school junior varsity football training camp. I longed to be active and do what all my friends were doing. I realized I needed to figure out how I could compete and modify training to fit my needs while refusing to let my lack of limb determine what sports I played. It was a tall order, and at the time I wasn’t aware of adaptive sports. They were not as prevalent, easily accessible or very welcoming. They might even have felt medical, much like an extension of physical therapy, and I considered myself an athlete.At the time, I was hanging out at local skate and wakeboarding shops. One day someone mentioned an article about me, which I didn’t even know existed. It discussed me losing my arm and my recovery and noted that I would be in Orlando, Florida, to compete in a wakeboarding event as part of an adaptive extreme sport competition. This was news to me. But then I decided to attend, and I performed pretty well.
I enjoyed my time there and forged friendships with people of varying abilities. This helped me feel less isolated. Witnessing so many people defying the odds and overcoming obstacles blew my mind. I was in awe seeing so many athletes charging hard and achieving incredible feats even with expectations stacked against them.
I was in awe seeing so many athletes charging hard and achieving incredible feats even with expectations stacked against them.
This also gave me the chance to see how others found ways to compete with disabilities. That inspired me to continue to adapt and transform my workouts when I returned home. It was cool to see how other people accomplished things with a variety of physical differences. Later as I pursued athletic training I recalled these experiences. Sure, I know how to accomplish things with one arm, but how might that same exercise work for someone who is blind or has a lower limb amputation, for example? It encouraged me to think about how I can be empathetic and look at exercise through their condition or ability.
My experiences in high school also shaped who I am as an athlete, trainer and coach. I began competing in lacrosse at a high level while also becoming a public speaker, sharing my story and message as a patient spokesperson for UNC Children’s Hospital. After high school, I went to college and fell in love with developing my body to see what I’m truly capable of doing. But I still considered how I could use my experience to help others. I learned about manufacturing and 3D printing and how it can be applied to orthotics and prosthetics. My love for fitness and lifestyle changes sparked me to think about how I can help people with disabilities create healthy habits. I wanted to make fitness easier for people who might feel intimated to start exercising because of their disability, and I worked toward becoming a coach.
While adaptive fitness has changed so much since I first became aware of it, I still think that some people feel intimidated by the idea. That’s where my classes come in: Even though I have a specific disability, I strive to develop classes that work for people with a variety of disabilities. My classes will be seated or standing and the exercises will be designed so people with disabilities can live a functional lifestyle. For example, people in a seated classes might develop the muscle groups that make it easier for them to transfer in and out of their wheelchairs. That also boosts people’s independence when they can move in and out of their chair with ease. For the standing class, we might try a burpee because that move can help people in the real world if they lose their balance and fall, for example. While burpees scare many people, I don’t want to intimidate anyone. There will be something for every skill level and ability and plenty of modifications. I am so curious about how to make things better for people that I often ask people of various abilities how they do certain exercises or what works. I want everyone to feel they can be active and exercise, no matter what disability they have.
I hope to bridge the gap between occupational and physical therapy to create exercise that empowers people of varying abilities. I’m in a position to be the example I needed when I first had my accident at 13. I might have lost an arm, but I became so much more. If we can share the narrative in fitness that people can belong no matter what limitations they have, we can reach more people and offer hope to young people that exercise is for everyone. Representation truly does matter and makes a bigger impact than I ever realized.
This interview has been edited and condensed.