Transitional students spin into summer

Young people learning life skills while biking
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Journal features editor
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Every week, students from the Transition to Adult Living program learn important life skills and get a good workout at the same time.

Nikki Bruggert, a spin instructor at Courthouse Athletic Club, volunteers her time each Monday to teach a group of students with a range of disabilities how to get a great workout on a stationary bicycle.

“The instructor allows us to go at our own pace,” said 19-year-old Alexis Clinton. “She’s not pushy like most instructors.”

The classes began in mid-May, when Bruggert started getting to know the students who come clean the exercise equipment. Transition to Adult Living, a program of Placer Union High School District, teaches functional living skills to people ages 18-22. Teacher Pam Wentz said some students are intellectually disabled, while others have autism or specific learning disabilities.

Not only is spin class fun, Wentz said, but it also teaches responsibility, such as the students making sure they have the right gear with them on class days.

“Exercise is important,” Wentz said, “and being a part of whatever the general population is doing, or the regular population, is really exciting. I think it makes them feel like they belong to the community.”

That’s why Courthouse owner Art Chappell invites the youth to work at the gym, and agreed to the free spin class.

“It’s just something we do because we think that they’re part of the community,”?he said.

“I’m a Christian,”?he added, “and I believe in helping others who need help, who can’t normally afford to do some of those things, so we do it for people who need it.”

While the class has only been meeting for a few weeks, Bruggert said the students have really learned a lot, especially considering that for several, this was their first time on a bike.

“They have just made leaps and bounds in terms of progress,” she said. “And they love it, and they’re so kind and friendly and appreciative. It’s just really sweet.”

Reach Krissi Khokhobashvili at Follow her on Twitter, @AuburnJournalAE.