New Adaptive Fitness Classes Offered At SPCC


Thirty-year-old Erica Dillon isn’t fooling her fitness trainer.

As she settles into the leg press, her instructor, Hollie Chapman, says “your legs are strong” as she ups the weight on the machine.

A few minutes later, after rotating through her other athletes, Chapman’s back to Dillon, asking, “Why’d you stop? Was it too light?”

Chapman doesn’t let her athletes skip reps, whether she’s working with competitive bodybuilders or individuals with disabilities.

For the latter, new class offerings through the SEALS program at the Severna Park Community Center (SPCC) provide opportunities to exercise in a safe, adapted environment, free of charge.

The success of SEALS swimming, which launched in 2022, led Shelly Beigel, director of programs and partnerships at SPCC, to think beyond the pool. In early February, two new adaptive group fitness classes opened.

SEALS stands for social, educational, all welcome, limitless and success. Its programs are customized to meet the demands of a wide range of abilities.

“It wasn’t just about aquatics to me,” said Beigel, a former Severna Park swim coach who saw a need for more extracurricular activities tailored for the special needs community. “We got swim up, we got swim going. It is seamless now, so now on to fitness.”

Finding the ideal instructor was no obstacle; Beigel immediately turned to Chapman, a personal trainer and military wife who has experience working with a variety of disabilities and diagnoses.

“I worked for about five-plus years in college with the physically and mentally disabled at school settings and home settings,” Chapman said. “I was all for it.”

The two new SEALS fitness options include a group fitness class that involves moving through exercises to music, and a circuit training class that allows participants to rotate through the various pieces of gym equipment.

“Even though we say group, the curriculum is individualized,” Beigel explained. “We already know about triggers; we know a lot about [the participants] before they even come. The class is tailored around that.”

SEALS programming combines ages and abilities/diagnoses. As such, the classes are capped at four participants to ensure a fully personalized and safe experience.

For Chapman, leading a circuit class is a workout in itself, moving from one athlete to another at their stations, adjusting the weight, height or resistance on the equipment, and making sure nobody is taking the easy way out.

“Regardless of how chaotic it may look from the outside, it really is, in my brain, organized and for them,” Chapman said.

Dillon was one of the first to join SEALS swimming when it started, and she now attends circuit training.

“I like this better than CrossFit because you don’t do burpees,” explained Dillon, whose favorite apparatus is the rowing machine.

Much like the programs themselves adapt to individual needs, Beigel strives to mold the schedule and activities offered to the demands of the community. She welcomes feedback on the dates and times that would work for various age groups.

“If we needed to add a class, I’d go find the staffing,” said Beigel, who predicted that she will need to add another circuit training class soon.

Beigel’s long-term goal is to offer an array of activities through SEALS – yoga, dancing and art, to name a few.

“What falls under the SEALS program is anything we can come up with and get funding for,” she said. “It can be as encompassing as we want.”

SEALS fitness classes are currently offered on Thursdays (group fitness) and Fridays (circuit) from 4:30pm-5:30pm, and they are geared toward ages 12 and up. Thanks to grants provided by The John J. Leidy Foundation, The Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County, and the Anne Arundel County executive’s office, these classes come at no charge to the participants.

For more information, or to register, visit


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