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July 12, 2022

Get Fit with Ka Ren

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Get Fit Ceremony

How Exercise and Healthy Eating Helps You Live Your Best Life

Sometimes all we need to live a healthy lifestyle is a push in the right direction and some encouragement.  

At Boundless, the person to do that is Ka Ren Steele, our recreational therapist. Ka Ren has done incredible things to keep our individuals fit and healthy. She has a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and recently created the “Get Fit with Ka Ren.” She has also led the Stoplight Healthy Eating Program. She began these programs to help individuals at Boundless lead healthier lives and help them become more active.  

Ka Ren just wrapped up her sixteen-week course, “Get Fit with Ka Ren,” and held a graduation ceremony for the six individuals who completed her program at the Hilltop YMCA. This YMCA, along with Woodland, Reynoldsburg, and Sandalwood collaborated with Ka Ren to set up workouts specifically for our individuals and allow them to try out a handful of different classes like Zumba and Pound. They all received a free membership at the ceremony in hopes that they will continue their fitness journey. This free membership came from the Good Shepherd Foundation grant awarded to Boundless during the year 2021-2022. This program would not have been possible without funding from the Good Shepherd.  

Along with help from the YMCA, The Ohio State University College of Medicine had nineteen students from their Community Health Education program volunteer for Boundless. They helped Ka Ren and the individuals in her program with their wellness by leading classes on wellness, fitness, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, the Stoplight concept, and more. These OSU students were divided into two groups. Group one did presentations and assisted at the meetings while group two went to the individuals’ homes to assist them and their staff to better understand the Stoplight program, how it works, and prepare meals with them. The Reynoldsburg YMCA led a cooking class at their facility. They offer a cooking class called “Cooking with Diabetes in Mind.” Taking this class taught the individuals how to cook their own nutritional meals. 

In addition to the weekly activities at the YMCAs, there were and still are activities which include virtual fitness programs, available to all out Central Ohio individuals served by Boundless via the Boundless calendar. The Boundless calendar, located on the iPads at each location, contains both virtual and in-person activities. To enhance the experience, the iPad stands, connectors and HDMI cords were purchased using grant monies from the Good Shepherd Foundation. For easy access, the calendar requires minimal effort to login to a Zoom activity thanks to help from Dave Powers.  

Throughout this program, individuals who participated not only lost weight and led more healthy lifestyles, but they were able to build camaraderie, interact with Ohio State medical students, and ask questions. To help them throughout their fitness and health journey, these individuals were gifted measuring cups, a food scale, three-pound weights, a small gym bag, a portion size placemat, a Fitbit, and a Get Fit with Ka Ren T-shirt. At their graduation, they also received a Fitbit weight scale in hopes they will continue to take care of themselves after this program.  

Staying active and eating right is one of the most important things a person can do. Even if it seems uncomfortable or impossible, Ka Ren’s advice is to “give it a try” and if they found they did not like it, that was okay. In her program, she assured her students that she was there to help them. Students who took her advice and went for it felt proud of themselves in the end and were sad that the class finished.  

Our families influence our decisions and lifestyles more than we know, especially for individuals with I/DD. We tend to do things for individuals with I/DD and make their decisions, which does not help them grow. Ka Ren advises that families should set higher expectations for their loved ones who have I/DD and not allow them to persuade them that they cannot be active or cannot do something without at least giving it a try. Would you allow your child or adult without I/DD to quit simply because they said they could not or did not want to do an activity? Ka Ren emphasizes that if people do not stay active, their muscles will die. Oftentimes individuals who use wheelchairs think they cannot be active or are seen by society as unable to be active, however they can and need to be active. Ka Ren said, “It can be done; we just have to think outside the box.”  

Although the class has ended, Ka Ren hopes to do another Get Fit class in the future or start a new class. She enjoyed her time spent with those who participated in her class and hopes they take what they learned and use it. As Ka Ren said, “you can’t live your best life if you aren’t able to move” and we should all strive to live our best life.  


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