Antonio Ramunno credits his family’s love — and some McDonald’s french fries — for helping him pull out of the “dark, horrible time” that followed a motorcycle accident.
That crash in October 2014 left Ramunno paralyzed from the chest down and facing months of treatment and rehabilitation in various medical facilities.
Almost from the moment he awoke in Vancouver General Hospital, where he spent two months, Ramunno’s family pushed him to exercise, to try to keep moving.
“They would tease me with McDonald’s french fries to try and get my arms to move,” he said. “I just can’t say enough about them. They stood with me the whole time, pushed me the whole time.”
And they let him turn mom Costanza’s living room into a workshop, where Ramunno designed a collection of exercise tools to help people with mobility and strength challenges exercise.
While he originally aimed for those with obvious mobility issues, Ramunno said he realized the system he created would help others — seniors, people with multiple sclerosis or other conditions and those who would prefer the resistance training setup he has developed.
It’s a work born out of frustration, but fuelled by his family and the people at Community Futures Thompson Country through its self-employment program.
The frustration stems from Ramunno’s rehabilitation experiences.
Ramunno spent a year in various facilities, including Vancouver General Hospital, G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre, Royal Inland Hospital and the Pathway to Home program at Ponderosa Lodge, where he had ongoing physiotherapy.
Once finally discharged, the physio, which had been reduced through the months from three times a week to once per week, stopped altogether.
Ramunno said he offered to bring his own trainer to RIH to use its equipment, but was turned down. He said he never received an explanation why.
With no outpatient facility he could use and discovering exercise equipment is expensive to buy, Ramunno became dejected and began losing his mobility.
“Then I thought — what have I been using that I could build myself?”
Key to his exercise system are therabands, which provide low-impact strength training. Aides had held the bands behind him as anchors while he used the bands and tubes.
“So I thought — why not throw a couple of hooks on the wall and I can skip the care aides?” Ramunno said.
Next, he added a bar he has been using to retrain his body to go from sitting to standing. He said he is now able to walk a bit using a walker.
“Once I got a taste for that, I used it to try and lift my legs a bit, too,” Ramunno said.
From there, his Wallgym Resistance Training business was well on its way to creation.
He now supplements his workouts with visits to the Kamloops YMCA-YWCA because, with some new mobility, he can use its weights for lifting.
“The Y has been so good to me,” Ramunno said, noting he is creating a wall gym for the organization.
Ramunno said his family suggested he also design the training wall “for regular people who can’t find equipment to buy or that the equipment they can buy takes up so much space.”
A Wallgym costs $1,500, which includes an accessory panel with bluetooth speakers, handles to hook onto a rolling rod for tricep exercises, leg bands, ankle straps and a hand strengthener.
The main panel has various tensions of therabands, the bar he has used to stand with, free weights and strong hooks to attach each piece being used.
Ramunno is working out of a storefront at Larkspur Street and Tranquille Road on the North Shore, a decision he made “to get out of mom’s living room.”
Ramunno hopes to eventually create an outpatient gym once he has build his Wallgym business.
As the former owner of River City Roofing and Siding, he is used to being busy and longed for that simple pleasure of working and being out in the community.
For more information, email theWallgym@gmail.com. A website is also being created and should be live soon.
Ramunno is also available in the store most days — except for his regular afternoon exercise time.
CELEBRATING THE WALLGYM
Wallgym is a compact fitness system — six feet high and 3.5 feet wide — that attaches to a wall.
Ramunno is donating a Wallgym system to the John Todd YMCA, where he is a member.
Community Futures Thompson Country will take part in a ribbon-cutting on Thursday, Sept. 27, at 2 p.m., with an open house to follow.
The public is welcome to attend.
The John Todd YMCA is located at 150 Wood St. on the North Shore.