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Ned Norton has spent a good part of the past 26 years training clients in his Warrior Gym, in Albany, NY. Yet, while Warrior may look like a typical gym when empty, his disabled clientele separate it from the rest of the pack and elevate him to hero status.
“Training people with disabilities is the ultimate challenge,” says the 57-year-old Norton. “It means more than touchdowns, medals, and trophies, because it relates to their having a better life.”
Norton’s intentions for his clients go beyond building the body. He aims to rebuild their confidence and help them become independent after life-changing injuries. “At one time I had 11 guys who could bench-press more than 300 pounds. They got so strong they were able to go back to work, go back to school, and start families.”
He customizes every machine in his gym to be wheelchair accessible and charges his clients a mere $10 for 10 weeks so they can continue to train for as long as they need to while living on disability income. “It’s not about what they can’t do, it’s about what they can do,” he says.
Norton sees about 120 clients per week and raises money to cover operating costs and ensure that the doors of his gym stay open.
A recent broadcast on CNN about Warriors on Wheels boosted awareness of Norton’s efforts and significantly expanded his reach. “I get so many heartfelt e-mails from disabled people all over the world who would love to come to my gym, but they live in Seattle, Korea, or Australia,” he explains.
Inspired to find a way to offer specialized training remotely, Norton raised the money to create customized fitness packages with resistance bands that he now ships to people globally, never charging his clients a penny. Following the international buzz, Norton then founded “The Hercules Project,” which works with the UN to help rehabilitate people injured by land mines. “We’re shipping to Darfur and South Sudan.”
In addition to his global ambitions, Norton is working on developing fitness packages for group homes for the disabled, corresponding with hundreds of clients, and providing fitness training for the fire department in Albany. “I want to help as many people as I can.”
How You Can Help: To donate or to learn more, go to: profilesinpurpose.com/warriors_on_wheels.