Exercise with the All-Terrain Active Wheelchair

With the Freedom Chair, you work out wherever and whenever you want.

Active wheelchairs are designed with the athletic rider in mind. Whether you’re pursuing fitness, adventure, improved flexibility, heart health, or strength training, these wheelchairs help you accomplish those goals. From longtime athletes to first-time wheelchair users, many of our riders use their Freedom Chairs as exercise tools—some days they go to the gym, while other days they work out in their Freedom Chair.

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Here at GRIT, we don’t think a workout should stop at the end of the paved sidewalk. The thrill of a trail ride, the nuances of off-road inclines and declines, the confidence to roll over obstacles without wondering Can my chair handle this—these are freedoms that should be attainable by everyone.

So, our team of MIT mechanical engineers designed a better active wheelchair. We’ve continually improved the design to optimize mechanical efficiency, serviceability, and outright toughness to create an active wheelchair exceptionally deserving of the title “the mountain bike of wheelchairs.”

Whether you’re a seasoned physical athlete, an obstacle-course racer, a marathoner, a 5K-er, 10K-er, or are just looking to get back into shape, the Freedom Chair can help you get where you want to go. Many of our riders are just beginning (or getting back into) a fitness plan—in fact, many have never exercised in a wheelchair before.

No matter your background, no matter how many race medals or trophies you have displayed in your living room, the Freedom Chair can be a terrific way to work fitness back into your life.

 

The lever-driven, active wheelchair

Most manual wheelchairs require users to reach behind them, grab onto hand-rims, and push forward. This has become the industry standard, but there are a few inherent issues with this motion: First, it utilizes small, inefficient muscles in a rider’s neck and arms, so it’s easy to get exhausted; it also makes riders more prone to injury. Second, a rider’s hands are right near the tires, so adventures into mud or water can complicate one’s ability to grab the rims. Even on dry terrain, many riders don’t have the grip or finger strength to wrap their hands around hand-rims and heave forward; athletes with tremendous grip strength still run the risk of catching their hands or fingers in the spinning wheel spokes.

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That’s why we use levers instead.

Most models of the Freedom Chair feature a patented lever-drive system—riders propel the wheels forward, not by hand-rims, but with levers positioned at about chest height. This motion takes advantage of large muscles in a rider’s chest, shoulders, and back, and the leverage makes each stroke about twice as efficient as pushing on hand-rims. Your hands also remain safely away from the spinning wheels, keeping them safe and clean.

By adjusting your hands higher or lower on the levers, you can utilize different kinds of leverage. When riders are tackling difficult terrain or inclines, they place their hands at the tops of the levers, increasing the torque of each stroke. For higher speeds and declines, riders drop their hands to the bottoms of the levers. Just as someone on a mountain bike would change gears, someone on the Freedom Chair active wheelchair can utilize the mechanical advantage of the levers.

The active wheelchair and “mountain bike of wheelchairs”

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The GRIT Freedom Chair is designed, tire-to-tire, for all-terrain success. Its large front wheel is extended out in front of the rider, making it easy to pop over roots, curbs, and anything else in your way; its two rear tires are 26” mountain bike tires, so there isn’t much they can’t handle. The steel frame, seat pan, and front fork of this off-road, active wheelchair allow you to roll confidently through tough terrains.

Our riders have taken these chairs through obstacle course races, full and half marathons, the deserts of Arizona, the beaches of Hawaii, the mountains of Colorado, the gravel of Appalachia, and more places than we could reasonably list here.

If you’re wondering whether or not the Freedom Chair can handle a specific terrain, give us a ring at 877-345-4748 and let’s talk it over!

Simple maintenance, easy-to-find parts

Creating a workout plan with an active wheelchair means maintaining a consistent workout schedule. Whether you’re looking to put in mileage every day, every other day, or just whenever you’re feeling up for it, we never want to delay that schedule because of damaged or missing replacement parts. This is one of the reasons we designed the Freedom Chair so that all moving parts are easy-to-find bike parts. The tires, the bearings, the clamps, and more, are all readily available at your local bike shop. Tires a little low? All you need is a bike pump. Chains need replacing? Head on over to your bike shop for a new one.

If you prefer to order replacement parts through GRIT, we’re always happy to help, but almost everything can be sourced from your local shop. Gone are the days of waiting weeks and weeks for a replacement caster; gone are the days of delaying your workout while your chair sits dormant in a technician’s office.

Our goal is to help our riders get outside, stay active, and exercise as often as they are able, so we strive to make maintenance as straightforward and user-friendly as possible.

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GRIT Freedom Chair riders stay active

Exercising with the GRIT Freedom Chair is a fantastic, low-impact cardio workout. The ergonomic lever motion is easy on the shoulders, enabling you to build arm and chest muscles and improve your fitness.

I missed being off-road, but out of all the activities, the thing I missed most was being off on my own for an hour and a half on the bike path. For four years, everyday I couldn’t go, out a little part of me died. Here I am at the Florida Hospital Winter Park 5K. 1st place in chair division. 4th place for men 75-79. Time 41:18. Almost 2 minutes faster than my training times!     —Jerry

I missed being off-road, but out of all the activities, the thing I missed most was being off on my own for an hour and a half on the bike path. For four years, everyday I couldn’t go, out a little part of me died. Here I am at the Florida Hospital Winter Park 5K. 1st place in chair division. 4th place for men 75-79. Time 41:18. Almost 2 minutes faster than my training times!

—Jerry

I competed in the “Let's Beat Ovarian Cancer'“race in Tampa Florida…It was uplifting to be around so many survivors of ovarian and other forms of cancer, yet they were congratulating ME for competing in the race! I plan on going back next year.     —Michelle

I competed in the “Let's Beat Ovarian Cancer'“race in Tampa Florida…It was uplifting to be around so many survivors of ovarian and other forms of cancer, yet they were congratulating ME for competing in the race! I plan on going back next year.

—Michelle

I had SO much fun riding in the Twin Cities Color Run today! I’ve never done a Color Run before and I didn’t quite know what to expect, but it was incredible! I’ve run 5Ks before, but since my disability started getting worse and I needed to start utilizing a wheelchair, I haven’t been able to compete. My Freedom Chair gave me the ability to race today and I even passed most of the people racing with me!    —Hayden

I had SO much fun riding in the Twin Cities Color Run today! I’ve never done a Color Run before and I didn’t quite know what to expect, but it was incredible! I’ve run 5Ks before, but since my disability started getting worse and I needed to start utilizing a wheelchair, I haven’t been able to compete. My Freedom Chair gave me the ability to race today and I even passed most of the people racing with me!

—Hayden

Ran the Virginia Spartan Super today with some Oscar Mike friends! It was an amazing day! One of my fellow Spartans stopped me on course and told me that his wife had just submitted a grant for partial funding on a Freedom Chair. Hopefully he and his wife will be able to race together soon!     —Tyler

Ran the Virginia Spartan Super today with some Oscar Mike friends! It was an amazing day! One of my fellow Spartans stopped me on course and told me that his wife had just submitted a grant for partial funding on a Freedom Chair. Hopefully he and his wife will be able to race together soon!

—Tyler

 

Active wheelchair riders who use the Freedom Chair

Let's chat

Fill out the below form and let’s start the conversation! If you’d like to talk with a GRIT team member immediately, just give us a ring at 877-345-4748.