Calgarian makes lifting weights easy with new book – Calgary
Chris Demchuk loves to work out.
“Everyday,” said the 24-year-old when asked how often he hits the gym.
A Special Olympics athlete, Demchuk plays many sports.
“Baseball and floor hockey,” lead off a long list of his favourites. “And softball and powerlifting and golf… and not skiing!”
Demchuk, who has Down syndrome, says golf is his favourite sport, but working out is his passion. He says it was frustrating for him not being able to comprehend the articles in the fitness and health magazines he often sought out to help up his game.
“Some people have Down syndrome,” explained Chris, “and fitness magazines are hard to read.”
“He’d look at the photos and follow along but he could never read those big — I have trouble with some of those big words — and so he said to us, ‘You know, I need a fitness book I can read,’” Demchuk’s mother Linda said.
With a background in information design from the inclusive education program at Calgary’s Mount Royal University, Demchuk decided he could write a fitness book that he and any other person with an intellectual disability could read.
“He has a really good sense of what looks good on a page,” said Linda, who also explained her son soon came to the realization that he couldn’t do it alone and needed help. “So that’s how we got Dave [Mahoney] and Kim [Faires] on board.”
Mahoney is Demchuk’ longtime trainer and Faires, a photographer is Demchuk’s acquaintance.
“My role was just to ensure his form was always correct, which it always is, but to also modify exercises so that people who were not as proficient in the exercises could start out, and then [for] those that wanted to progress, we added in exercises that were more difficult,” Mahoney said.
The result was a well-thought-out program that was inclusive of everyone from beginners to those with gym rat status. Clear, simple instructions were intentional but the “how to” photographs really helped exemplify how to properly perform each exercise and its modification.
“As an athlete, he is just so proficient in his exercises,” said Mahoney, who has worked with Demchuk for the last four years and says his star pupil’s technique and form are nearly flawless.
Demchuk would often be asked to hold a certain pose or position far longer than normal so Faires could snap the perfect photo. Not once did she hear him complain she said.
“Chris loves the camera and the camera loves him,” Faires said as she recounted their marathon photo sessions. “We had a ton of fun.”
After six long months, Get Fit with Chris was completed.
“This was the happiest thing he’s ever done in his life,” said Linda, who also has three other sons.
For Demchuk, the hard work has already paid off.
“I’ve got more muscles than my brothers!” he laughed while flexing his arm.
Currently, Demchuk’s book is being privately sold for $25. Copies can be purchased by contacting the Demchuk family via email.
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