Feel Good

Adaptive Athlete Jesi Stracham Helps Disabled Community Gain Independence

Despite holding the title Tough Mudder athlete and adaptive CrossFit coach, Jesi Stracham hasn’t always fit the bill of what people might consider a gym rat.

It wasn’t until 2017, two years after she was paralyzed from the middle of the chest down by a T4 spinal cord injury, that she explored different fitness modalities. Stracham told Shape that she fell to the floor 2 to 3 times a week because of weak core muscles.


Developing A Fitness Relationship

When Stracham was injured in the intensive care unit, she knew she wouldn’t let her disability define her. To get a glimpse of what life would be like as someone with complete paraplegia, she joined support groups on Facebook.

After her accident, Stracham signed up for an adaptive adventure program in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she kayaked, white water rafted, ziplined, and traversed ropes courses. Her passion for fitness quickly grew. She tested various adaptive sports at a local Adaptive Sports and Adventures Program.

The Creation Of The Wheel With Me Fitness App

Her passion for CrossFit led her to create the Wheel With Me Fitness Facebook group, which connects wheelchair users to fitness. However, we never did anything with it. We just talked occasionally. Stracham says the goal is to help wheelchair users grow in strength and mobility to live independently. Wheel With Me Fitness members receive two group calls a month and access to a book club. Stracham says community transcends fitness.


The Benefits Of Fitness For Disabled People

Stracham has witnessed firsthand how fitness can empower folks in his community since launching the Wheel With Me Fitness app. Stracham’s roommate, who has helped film the app’s workouts, is now strong enough to use a slide board instead of a wheelchair to get from one place to another. Stracham currently works full-time as an orthodontic assistant, but she runs her business on the side.