Wheelers Paramill Promoting Inclusion
By: Michael M. Humel
Larry Pestes was injured in a motorbike accident. He broke his T-5. When he was done with his rehabilitation he was thinking of different ways to stay in shape. Which unfortunately because of his location wasn’t an easy journey. Making matters worse due to his new injury he realized those with spinal injuries didn’t sweat from the break down. Where he lived he was less able to get around which made exercise difficult. The Wheelers Paramill was born.
The Wheelers Paramill is essentially a stationary exercise machine you can use while on your wheelchair. The injured person or wheelchair user rides his or her wheelchair on the machine and is able to get in a workout without going anywhere. The Paramill is currently in gyms and workout facilities throughout the country. They even have one in the United Kingdom. When Covid hit the world so hard the company had to reinvent itself. “We had to restructure the company due to Covid. It literally shut us down. Unable to work with our manufacturing company and not being able to make our products really threw a wrench in the works,” said. Crystal St. Laurent Director of Sales and Marketing. Wheelers Depot is currently working to grow its platform in hopes of being able to build a more single user friendly and cost effective Wheelers Paramill. Being a disabled athlete and having to exercise in gyms I have seen and been a part of the shortcomings of an inaccessible facility. Sometimes the gyms aren’t physically set up in a way where people in wheelchairs can navigate the floor. Machinery not being accessible also can be a problem. There have been many instances where I have used machines that weren’t conducive to an adapted workout. Even locked, my wheelchair would move during the exercise which would defeat the purpose itself. Also due to heavy machines being laid out all over the floor in abundance, accessibility for those in wheelchairs usually is not a gyms best friend. Oftentimes I would need to roll over the legs of a machine just to get from one place to another. Because of all these barriers I purchased free weights and started working out at home. I know my residence is accessible and I won’t have any issues with my workout. Having the added feeling of comfort and belonging helps. While working out at home people will often assume I cannot lift something even though I’m obviously there for a workout.
The main product while the company goes through restructuring is custom apparel. Wheelers Depot currently sells t-shirts, hoodies, leggings, pullovers and joggers. “We can create and design uniforms, fan gear and even help groups, teams and organizations raise funds for their cause. Other products are provided by independent vendors that have a like mindset and mission,” added Jeni Gollnick Director of Operations.
The goal of Wheelers Depot is “to provide an online platform to promote an inclusive lifestle. To provide a place that fits specific needs and resources to serve our peers. To create an equal opportunity with an inclusive mindset,” concluded St. Laurent.