VIRGINIA BEACH, Va (WAVY) – The Mayor of Virginia Beach presented a special award Monday to someone who is making a difference in the community.

Emily Throckmorton owns Kaizen Athletics near the Oceanfront. Kaizen is a Japanese word that simply means “Change for better.” Throckmorton uses the power of community to make that change happen for both her able bodied and adaptive athletes.

Eric Spalla is one of those adaptive athletes.

The Marine recently fell and broke his back. He now works out with the group at Kaizen on the recommendation of his physical therapist.

“The environment that Emily establishes here and encourages here has been great for me in particular,” Spalla told WAVY.

Throckmorton’s work with adaptive athletes started three years ago after working out with a group of wounded warriors.

“And they were doing box jumps next to me, or they were running with me, dead lifting, all these things … and I was like, ‘I need to be part of this in some capacity,'” Throckmorton said.

Among the adaptive athletes gathered at the gym Monday were a former police officer, former college athlete, and of course, the Marine.

Throckmorton scales and modifies workouts so each can attain individual gains, but it’s the community Spalla told us, “pushing each other … It’s having someone there that you’re accountable for that you don’t want to be that weak link, the guy that’s holding back, the girl that’s holding back.”

They make each other better, physically and mentally, and no one pays a dime.

That’s what brought Mayor Bobby Dyer to Kaizen with the award.

“We appreciate and recognize your time, efforts and services,” Dyer told Throckmorton.

It’s people like her, Dyer said, that make VB strong.

Said a grateful Throckmorton: “To feel like the community is behind us, they support us, is
very very heartwarming and it makes us feel like we’re part of something bigger.”

More information

The adaptive athletes classes are scheduled from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. They are paid for through donations. If you are interested in participating or donating click here.

If you would like to nominate a person or business for the mayor’s award click here.