Fitness Center Highlights Capabilities

It wasn't long ago I posted on Maureen O'Boyle WBTV facebook page that I was starting a new series on health and wellness called 'Keeping You Healthy'.  I asked facebook friends to share how they find happiness, and stick to their goals. This isn't just a series about weight loss or New Year's resolutions.  This is the total package. If there is a person out there who is helping others stay healthy, then I want to share their story too.  Amber Gibson's name was one of the first to pop up in my email.  A friend said Amber was changing lives in Gaston County and at Capabilities Fitness.

Capabilities in Lowell isn't just a typical gym.  They have a lot of the group classes you'd expect to find, but they also are the only center in North Carolina to offer other classes for a special part of our population.  Amber and her team of instructors work with kids and adults who have physical or intellectual disabilities.

If you visit the center at 117 W First Street during one of their after-school programs you'll hear two words a lot. "Good job," Amber says to Jack, who is one of her greatest success stories.  "If jack didn't have a program like this by the time he reached adulthood he would probably not be walking," Amber said.  She's been working with Jack for years.   Jack's dad Christian agrees, "It's nice to be able to see your child being able to enjoy the daily activities…now he can run!"

As founder of Capabilities, Amber Gibson has a lot of passion for the kids and adults she works with because on her mats, inside her play pit, lives are transformed.  We watched Jack climb out of the pit, "Yes he's getting out and before he couldn't get in or out by himself,"  Amber told us.

Her program is so unique, ARC of Gaston County, a non-profit designed to meet the special needs of residents with mental challenges and physical disabilities, is recommending clients.

Sara Osborne, director of ARC and mom to a child with Down syndrome, watches for the victories.  She describes the philosophy of Amber's mission, "What are you capable of, show me what you can do and if you're not quite there yet how can we help you get there?"

There is so much in the name Capabilities.  In a world where too often people with disabilities are judged by what they CAN'T do, these classes teach them just how much they CAN do.

There are Zumba classes to help build stamina. And workouts are customized for each client.  Amber is so proud of each student, and pointed out Shana's progress since she first came to class.  "She had trouble moving her arms and legs away from her body now she has more range of motion and more strength," Shana's mom told us.  "All the way out, good job," Amber told Shana as she lifter her boxing gloves to meet Amber's target.

The center also has personal training for everyone, the cost varies.  That money is then funneled back into the program for students with physical challenges.  There is an Open House Tuesday January  14th, and several fund raisers over the next few months.  There are many opportunities for you to get involved, and imagine working out knowing your pursuit of wellness can help another person achieve what many people thought impossible.  The Capabilities web site breaks down the cost for the programs and how you can be a part of their mission to expand to several local counties.

If you have a story of your path to happiness and well-being, I'd love to hear from you.  Post on Maureen O'Boyle WBTV facebook page or email me at

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