Prescott’s first adaptive fitness center
By Summer Sorg
Over the past few years, Prescott, Arizona has grown tremendously, and with that growth has brought the city’s first adaptive fitness center. The new gym, known as the New Horizons Disability Empowerment Center, opened in October 2019.
It was born from one person’s passion for staying active and created for those who share that passion. It looks like a standard gym, but it is equipped for much more than a standard fitness center can provide.
Andrew Bogdanov, a fitness coordinator at New Horizons and a main driver behind the gym, is a handcylcer, wheelchair-basketball player for the Ability360 Phoenix Wheelchair Suns and all-around sports fanatic.
He lives in Prescott but commutes to Phoenix multiple times a week in order to use the Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center and to practice with the basketball team. He hopes New Horizons will help those who are unable to make the commute regularly.
“Ability360’s got what they’re doing and it’s amazing, but I’m trying to take what they’re doing, kind of partner with them, and then expand out to Northern Arizona,” Bogdanov said. “We’d like to … branch out and have adaptive sports everywhere for people, because not everyone can make that drive down to Phoenix.”
Tommy Schroeder, an employee at New Horizons, added that he hopes the center gives people the resources they need to stay active and maintain a healthy lifestyle; that there is more to living with a disability than a lot of people expect.
“I just want to have people know that there’s an opportunity for people to do things and to be active,” Schroeder said.
Right now, the center is small, consisting of a one-room gym, and an outdoor basketball court, but the goal is to keep expanding. The first step of expansion is starting a New Horizons wheelchair basketball team.
“It’d be great to have another team to compete within Arizona,” Vice President and General Manager at the Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center, Gus LaZear, said.
LaZear said Ability360 has sold and donated equipment to New Horizons and is in full support of its growth as the only Center for Independent Living in Prescott. New Horizons is close to being able to start a basketball team.
“We’re close,” he says. “We’ve got the court and we have a few chairs.” Now it’s all about raising money for the remaining chairs, which he hopes to do through a fundraiser in which he handbikes across the country.
“Getting into sports for me was a huge part of my therapy. It was my outlet,” Bogdanov said.
Bogdanov got into a snowboarding accident in 2014 that left him paralyzed from the waist down. He got through what doctors estimated would be six weeks of therapy in just two weeks and credits his “outlet” for helping him do so.
“I was really motivated to get out and live life still,” he said.
Continuing to be active helped him keep his independence.
“And because I fell in love with sports … because it helped change my life after my accident, I want to give that opportunity to other people. And so that’s why I’m doing this gym here,” Bogdanov said.