Thanks to Hungary’s SUHANJ! Foundation, an innovative new gym is now open in Budapest that is designed to accommodate people with movement disabilities and visual impairment, while also welcoming patrons who are fully able. The aim of the fitness venue is to help disabled and non-disabled people train together, so everything was designed accordingly – at first sight, the place looks like an ordinary gym, but it is actually quite extraordinary. Places like SUHANJ! Fitness are still a rarity in Europe, but the founders hope that such accessible exercise centers will gain popularity with time.
Everyone is welcome to work out at Budapest’s new SUHANJ! Fitness
Daily life for Budapest residents with movement disabilities or visual impairment has gradually become easier over the last few years, but Hungary’s capital still has a long way to go before everybody here has the same opportunities to enjoy everyday activities that fully able people take for granted. In that regard, one thing that the capital lacked was a fitness center that is accessible for the disabled; we’ve heard stories that people in wheelchairs could only enter some gyms with the help of three or four people who had to lift them into the facility, all before facing numerous logistical problems during a workout session.
Fortunately, Budapest’s deficiency of accessible fitness centers has now ended, thanks to the SUJANJ! Foundation – a few weeks ago, Hungary’s first gym designed to be 100% accessible for people with disabilities opened in District XIII near Nyugati Square. This wasn’t the first time that the foundation – known for hosting disabled-community triathlons and running championships – developed a facility like SUHANJ! Fitness; at a school for children with movement disabilities, there was already a specially designed training room catering to their unique needs. The workout machines that disabled people can use are actually quite similar to standard fitness equipment: what makes them different is that patrons can move the seats, so that the machines can be used by everyone, including people in a wheelchair. Péter Gusztos, the co-founder of the foundation, told us that the differences in the prices for these disabled-friendly machines are typically minimal, so he doesn’t understand why there can’t be more of these kind of fitness venues around Budapest.
The SUHANJ! Foundation really considered every need for people with disabilities when they built this fitness center, so accessibility doesn’t only mean that there are no stairs, but that every feature of the place was designed to make things easier for disabled patrons – including the height of the counter, special guiding lines for those with visual impairment, and Braille writing on the lockers.
SUHANJ! Fitness also provides audio aids that direct patrons to their desired facilities. It was also important for the management that the venue can be easily reached by accessible public-transport options.
The same concept applied when they were hiring and training the staff: everybody who works at SUHANJ! Fitness knows how to considerately assist patrons with all kinds of disabilities – but at the same time, they make a point to treat everyone with a casual spirit, so that visitors never feel self-conscious about their limitations.
However, SUHANJ! Fitness is not only for people with disabilities – for the founders, the main aim was to create a gym where both disabled and fully able people can work out side-by-side, and that everybody who becomes a regular patron should come here because of the atmosphere and the quality services that they enjoy at the place.