bannerGrowing a Franchise

Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs Partners With Manteno High School for Adaptive Physical Fitness Program

The community gym is providing weekly adaptive fitness classes for students in the Manteno High School Transition Program.

By Morgan Wood1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSOREDUpdated 9:09AM 10/26/23

With 19 fitness centers across multiple states, Fitness Premier 24/7 Clubs is a fitness franchise that focuses on entering underserved communities. While its gyms have clearly followed this trend, bringing a wealth of fitness and wellness resources to communities where there may be none, Mike Orwig, Vice President of People Development for Fitness Premier and owner/operator of the Manteno location, and Amanda Ducharme, club manager and trainer at the Manteno gym, are taking this mission a step further. In a partnership with Manteno High School, Orwig and Ducharme are providing adaptive physical fitness sessions for special needs students in the school’s transition program.

“It has been a priority of mine, since I started with Fitness Premier, to do something to partner with the schools. We’ve done a good job of marketing to teachers and their families and providing different programming for them, but we haven’t been able to reach out to the special needs families,” explained Orwig. “It has been an idea that we just never landed, but Manteno High School has jumped on board with us, and it gives me goosebumps to think about what this could grow into. This has already been life-changing.”

In partnership with Manteno High, Fitness Premier of Manteno is hosting four sessions per week, each with four students in attendance, to provide adaptive physical fitness programming. Orwig explained that as a part of the transition program, special needs students spend time in the school system working to develop functional life skills. In addition to making fitness and wellness a priority, the sessions Ducharme runs empower the students with the skills and knowledge they need to complete daily activities more easily.

“The program utilizes a geared-back version of a more traditional fitness program,” added Orwig. “We’re going back to elementary-style movements to build core strength, increase flexibility and help with mobility. Learning how to properly squat or properly overhead press are important skills to utilize with equipment in the gym, but they will also be useful as the students transition into adulthood.”

“Our goal with this program is really increasing accessibility,” said Ducharme. “We want everyone to know that we are here to help, and there are modifications that can be taken to make fitness accessible to everyone.”

Ducharme explained that, when running a program like this, the most important step is for the trainer or leader to take time to get to know participants and understand their individual needs and goals.

“The first week of the program, we focused on using low weights and really just got to know everyone,” she added. “This helped us to understand how we can best support each student, and it’s already paying off. There is a student who uses a wheelchair who has already told us multiple times that this is the most included he’s ever felt in a P.E. class. I almost cried when I heard that — I was so happy.”

As the program carries on, Orwig and Ducharme continue to receive positive feedback from students, their family members and even teachers at Manteno High. While the partnership is contained to the Fitness Premier of Manteno location this year, Orwig and Ducharme both agree that they would love to see it grow in the future.

“There are 16 students total, and we’re giving them a free gym membership. They and their families are able to come in and access the gym outside of the scheduled weekly sessions, too,” added Orwig. “For us, the decision to take on this partnership was an easy one, but ultimately, we want to be even more impactful within the community and hopefully grow our relationship with the school beyond this one partnership.”

For more information, visit: