QUINCY — Saturday night, the 6th Street Promenade will take on a different look as the Dancer Love Foundation hosts The Glow Row Raiser in support of their adaptive fitness programs.
“We’ve offered adaptive classes for six or seven years now,” QTown Fitness co-owner Sam Dancer said. “We set up the foundation a few years ago, but we’ve offered the assistance for those with special needs for a while. Originally it was just one or two or three people coming in at a time.
“About three months ago, we had enough interest that we had to organize it into a full class.”
Dancer and his wife, Jenn, offer adaptive athletes the chance to work out twice a week at their QTown fitness facility. The classes are not segregated from other members of the gym, because the Dancers said they want to normalize everyone working out together, even if the needs are identical.
“One of our athletes, James, he’s here for pretty much every class,” Dancer said. “A few others come in frequently, but not as regularly. He also takes part in a lot of our other classes. He’s gotten comfortable enough to do that now.”
“James is a really good example for other students,” Jenn Dancer said. “He’s really learned the ropes, and he works as one of our coaches for the classes now.”
The Dancers said they never intended to become leaders in the community, fighting for acceptance of athletes with unique needs. They just saw an under-served or unserved part of the community and wanted to offer the same opportunities as any other athletes.
“This was never a passion project,” Sam said. “We just wanted to give everyone a place and a chance to get into fitness with whatever tools they need. It’s grown from there, and now it is a passion project, but we stumbled into it. We still don’t want to make a special class, we just want to provide a setting that’s available to anyone.”
Saturday night will see the hard work of the Dancers and their students showcased for the public. The 6th Street Promenade, from Maine to Hampshire streets in Quincy, will be shut down, including the street lights. Around 30-40 athletes will come out for a marathon event on the rowing machines. The Dancers want the public to come out and see the work that’s being put in by the students, even if they’re not interested in the fitness aspects themselves.
“This is open for anyone in Quincy or the area to come out and just have fun,” Sam said. “We’re not asking for anything from anyone other than to come out and watch. We think they’ll see what we see and maybe they’ll want to help.”
The Glow Row Raiser will take place from 6-10:30 p.m. Saturday. There is no charge for admission, and anyone is welcome to register a team for the rowing marathon.
“We’ll have music and food, people can get a drink at Quincy Brewing if they want,” Jenn said. “We have some amazing giveaways. Even if people don’t want to come out and row, they can come out and try to in the raffle. We’re giving away a rowing machine, we have a lot of Yeti products, from cups to coolers. Or they can just come out and see what it’s all about.”
All funds raised will go directly to the Dancer Love Foundation and put towards paying professional coaches for the adaptive fitness classes. Sam Dancer also said there may be some equipment purchase for specialty items that the classes may need.
For anyone looking to help, either at the rowing event Saturday by registering a team or by volunteering at the classes twice a week, the Dancers said more manpower is what they really need.
“Our members will be equipped to properly teach these classes and work with the athletes,” he said. “Our infrastructure now, we could handle really anyone that might want to come out, with any special needs, in Quincy and the surrounding area. We just need more people to help.”
“We are looking for anyone that understands even a little level of fitness to come and volunteer,” Jenn added. “They don’t need to be trainers or anything like that. We’re getting close to capping our class because we just don’t have enough help to grow much larger.”
Sam Dancer said he thinks the focus on the adaptive fitness classes feels backwards to him, and that’s something he wants to change, with both volunteers that come help and with the public in general at Saturday’s event.
“We’re the ones getting interviewed and people thank us for what we’re doing,” he said. “But we’re learning more from the athletes than I think they are from us. They benefit us mentally and spiritually and that more than equals anything we can do physically.”
For more information on the adaptive fitness program, the Dancer Love Foundation, or Saturday’s Glow Row, please call 217-577-1976 or visit qtownfitness.com.