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Innovation in Mobility with Alinker & Liquid Gym

Innovation in Mobility with Alinker & Liquid Gym

Innovation in Mobility with Alinker & Liquid Gym

Apr 14, 2021 - 11:30 (EDT)
30 minutes

The Alinker marks a revolution in walk-assist devices. It’s a three-wheeled, self-propelled walking bike that’s uniquely designed to accommodate a wide range of users. The Alinker doesn’t have pedals and it’s not motorized. It’s for people who want to maintain an active lifestyle, despite their mobility issues.

The Alinker challenges our assumptions about disability.

Through the Alinker Academy, we are building a worldwide community of people who want to keep moving and stay fit.

As a well-known celebrity put it:

"The Alinker is a game changer!" – Selma Blair, American actor living with multiple sclerosis.


Why was the Alinker Academy started?

Shortly after the Alinker became available to the public, its inventor B.E. (Barbara) Alink asked a man in Ottawa, Ontario, to try one. He just happened to be a LiquidGym member, so he brought the Alinker to the Gym, and we fell in love with it! We realized the Alinker could benefit individuals from all walks of life, especially those who experience mobility issues.

LiquidGym co-owner Karen Snyder recognized the Alinker bike’s potential. She also realized people need some basic skills to learn to properly use and enjoy their new bikes. So, Karen launched a series of fitness classes and demo sessions for people keen to find out more.

The takeaway is that the Alinker is easy to use! Weighing 34 pounds (15 kilograms), it’s relatively lightweight and fits into a car, taking up about as much room as a manual wheelchair. As sales of the bike grew around the world, Karen realized users would need also fitness coaching to get the most out of their Alinker experience, and to develop and meet their individual goals. She also saw a need for some structured training, so people can do the exercises safely, without aggravating their disability or injury. And so, the Alinker Academy was born! 

After searching for a suitable learning platform, we discovered Embodia, an online rehabilitation website. It gave us everything we needed. The Alinker Academy films were shot locally, over a two-week period at the RA Centre in Ottawa. The films feature active Alinker users. A group of media students formed the film crew, shooting and editing all the footage. We used a GoPro camera for the outdoor shoots, to show trail rides and tours of the city. LiquidGym co-owner Irene Hammerich handled final production, building the Alinker Academy website. Within six weeks, we launched the Alinker Academy online!

Today, there are active Alinker users around the world, as well as individuals and groups in Canada, Europe, South Africa, and the United States, subscribing and using the Alinker Academy’s resources.

What is LiquidGym Therapy and Training Centre?

LiquidGym is a unique therapy centre that uses water, land and virtual settings to provide therapy, training and coaching to clients with a broad range of conditions. In our 8,000-square-foot facility, you’ll find innovative equipment, four pools and a great team of knowledgeable staff.

In fact, LiquidGym has received several awards and official recognition as the leader in hydrotherapy and innovation. For example, we received the Ottawa West Board of Trade/Nepean Business Achievement Innovation Award; and various groups and organizations have given us recognition, including the Ottawa Hospital’s major fundraiser, THE RIDE, which named LiquidGym the official therapy service for this annual event.

In this 30-minute live webinar, we will be learning from Irene Hammerich and Karen Snyder of LiquidGym

They will discuss:

  • The evolution of the Alinker and lessons learned along the way
  • How the Alinker has impacted their clients lives
  • An overview of LiquidGym and their model of care
  • Their business model pre-pandemic
  • The process they went through during the pandemic
  • The solutions they have implemented to not only survive but thrive in the new normal
  • The development of their Clinic Academy to host and sell live and static online courses.

Register below (note: you must be signed into Embodia to register).


The instructors
Karen Snyder

Karen Snyder was born to bring a unique facility like LiquidGym from vision to reality. She has a strong background in physical education, entrepreneurship and adapted aquatics, plus a passion for sports and wellness. Karen’s skills and interests combine to ensure the success of LiquidGym, a place that changes the lives of people of all abilities and backgrounds.

Karen graduated from Acadia University’s Physical Education and Recreation program. She developed several aquatics programs in the Atlantic Provinces, including adapted aquatics. Karen’s certifications include CanFit Pro Personal Trainer, USA Triathlon Coach and Functional Movement Screen.

Karen brings hearty doses of enthusiasm and creativity to everything she tackles, from programming and building relationships, to expanding markets and discovering new business opportunities. As an entrepreneur, she ran several businesses, including supply company Wise Kids and consulting firm Business in a Box. As a senior business consultant, Karen designed and delivered many seminars and workshops still in use today.

What makes Karen unique is her relentless enthusiasm for discerning ways to help people meet their fitness and wellness goals. After a hockey injury in 2009, Karen learned first hand how effective hydrotherapy can be – not only for rehabilitation, but also for training and exercise. She thought, if this can help me, imagine what it can do for other people!

Karen decided to make in-water therapy, treatment and exercise available to people of all abilities. After a lot of research, brainstorming and hard work, she co-founded and opened LiquidGym in November 2013.

Irene Hammerich

LiquidGym co-founder Irene Hammerich has always been on the move! In high school, she was a “gym rat,” involved in many sports, including badminton, basketball and high jump. At University of Toronto, she focused on competitive volleyball. On the side, she was a sports therapist and trainer.

Irene’s leadership skills are undeniable. After graduating from U of T’s Physical and Health Education program, Irene worked in strength training, movement development and fitness. In schools across Ontario, she helped teachers and coaches develop their skills and resources, and she worked at the university level in Nova Scotia.

As a long-time, dedicated coach and teacher, Irene’s strong background in aquatics includes training swimmers of all levels, teaching aquafitness and adapted aquatics, and coaching Master’s-level competitive swimmers. Irene also swam competitively at the Master’s level.

At LiquidGym, Irene is Lead Trainer, working with her own clients, and supporting the development of LiquidGym’s team of trainers. She also develops the use of data in measuring and analyzing movement in client assessments and progression.

For many years, Irene has been involved in senior management in for-profit and non-profit environments, contributing to leadership training and program development. Irene has extensive certification in a range of disciplines, including Nordic Poling, CanFit Pro Personal Trainer, USA Triathlon Coach, Functional Movement Screen and Movement Patterns.

Capping it all off is Irene’s multimedia background in educational settings – a bonus for LiquidGym, where she uses media in training and education, and takes on significant roles in media production and development.

Maggie Bergeron
PT, BSc, MScPT, Co-Founder of Embodia

Maggie Bergeron is a registered physiotherapist who received her Master of Science in Physical Therapy from McMaster University in 2009 after completing her undergraduate studies at the University of Ottawa.

Maggie co-founded Embodia in 2014 to modernize the patient experience and to provide a simple, easy way to take continuing education courses to all physiotherapists and rehabilitation practitioners, regardless of their location, budget, or area of practice.

Maggie is the community director of TechTO Health - a health technology event that brings together thousands of health tech enthusiasts. She also maintains her own physiotherapy practice in the east end of Toronto where she works with people with persistent pain. Maggie currently serves as a mentor, placement host and holds a Status-Only Appointment (lecturer ranking) with the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto.

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