Meet the New Peloton Instructor Who's Making Adaptive Fitness Mainstream

·4 min read
Logan Aldridge
Logan Aldridge

Peleton

In December of last year, Peloton announced Logan Aldridge as its first-ever adaptive training consultant. Now, Aldridge is a full-fledged strength instructor — the first to teach adaptive strength training content for the platform. He's bringing adaptive fitness to Peloton's millions of users worldwide through an initial launch of standing and seated classes thoughtfully designed for people with varying abilities. And there are many more classes to come.

The athlete's background is in developing adaptive training curricula and imparting fitness professionals with the "knowledge, awareness and education" to welcome people of all abilities in their gyms, classes, and sports facilities, Aldridge tells Shape. But for him, Peloton was the missing link between fitness instructors with the desire to make their work more inclusive and people with disabilities who face both physical and psychological barriers to embarking on a fitness journey.

"I recognized…we could give this individual [with a disability] the tools on their TV, on their phone, to log into an application like the Peloton app and select a workout and get started," he says. "Get started. That is what I'm about when it comes to creating adaptive training solutions. We just have to get moving." (See: How Disabled Athlete Zion Clark Is Making Fitness More Accessible for People with Disabilities and Injuries)

"Get started" isn't an empty slogan for Aldridge, who lost his left, dominant arm in a boating accident at 13. While he was in the hospital, he was surrounded by well-meaning doctors who warned him about all the things he would find difficult or impossible with one arm. "I was being told, 'Logan, you may really struggle to write,'" he recalls. "'Why can I not write?'" he thought to himself before promptly writing his mom a birthday card to prove to himself he could do it. "It was more like chicken scratch than real letters, but it was legible!" he quips.

Aldridge had been a very active kid, getting into sports, such as wakeboarding and surfing, from a young age, but his accident completely transformed his approach to fitness. "[Training] was no longer this cool tool that was fun to help me be better at wakeboarding," he explains. "Now, fitness was paramount and critical for me to be able to participate alongside my peers."

While in the hospital, he kept up his fitness using Chinese meditation balls and climbing grip trainers, and he kept up his motivation with help from a dedicated support system, he says. That support system even included a surprise phone call from professional surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her own arm in a shark attack just nine months prior to Aldridge's accident. She simply told him it would be okay. That was all he needed in order to know he wasn't alone, he says. (Related: Surfer Bethany Hamilton On the Importance of Creating Inclusive Environments for Adaptive Athletes)

Aldridge knows from experience, and from talking to many people with disabilities, how difficult it can be to start working out, and his aim is to create a safe space for everyone to realize their potential, he explains. "We as individuals, as humans, are all far more capable than we know or believe," Aldridge says. For everyone like him who was told they couldn't achieve the things they wanted to, in fitness or otherwise, he represents that world of possibility.

"I still have to pinch myself to think that I'm in this position, in a leadership role, to have an impact and to really voice that exact sort of message: that I'm not here to place expectations on you, on your ability, and your capability," he says. "I'm here to show that there are creative ways, where if we don't fixate ourselves on the problems, we find solutions."

For Aldridge, fitness can be an especially welcoming space for every individual, he explains. He's heartened when people tell him his workouts have encouraged them or their kids to get active, whether they live with a permanent impairment, a temporary injury, or no adaptive requirements at all. "In terms of movement, activity, exercise, empowerment through movement, there is absolutely a place for everyone at that table, and I'm here to do just that: to empower the individual to recognize that their ability exists right now within them," he adds. (Related: What People Don't Know About Staying Fit In a Wheelchair)

Leading Peloton classes isn't just about developing the knowledge and skills to bring adaptive training to life, though. It's about having fun, says Aldridge. "We've got great music in the background. I'm laughing along the way. We create this lighthearted camaraderie environment, and that to me is the special ingredient that will take away a lot of that intimidation factor of fitness," he says. "It is about the experience as much as it is about the effective workout and the knowledge you can gain from completing it. The empowerment you feel from having done it and done a hard thing with a group of people is just — it checks every box," says Aldridge. "It's exactly where we should be with adaptive training [and] with fitness as a whole."