Fitness Center for People Living with Disabilities Debuts

Thumbnail Ribbon Cutting Photo
The Split Second Foundation founder and CEO Mark Raymond Jr. is surrounded by friends, family and board members as they cut the ribbon on the new Split Second Fitness center.

NEW ORLEANS –  Split Second Fitness – the first fitness facility in Louisiana for people living with disabilities – opened on Feb. 13 at 1995 Gentilly Blvd. Founder Mark Raymond Jr. cut the ribbon on the new center, which will offer memberships, research-based restorative exercise programs and individualized training sessions.

Creating Split Second Fitness was a personal mission for Raymond, who suffered a devastating injury in 2016. after he dove off a boat into Lake Pontchartrain. The water was more shallow than he realized and the impact instantly broke his neck and paralyzed him. Following his accident, Raymond Jr. discovered that there were very few resources available for the more than 700,000 people living in Louisiana with an ambulatory disability.

“You and your family are on your own after you get discharged from the hospital and exhaust your insurance-covered outpatient therapy sessions,” he said. “Evidence has proven that physical activity has tremendous benefits such as decreasing the risk of secondary complications like pressure sores, blood clots and cardiovascular disease, while improving functionality and range of motion, and reducing depression and anxiety. We are excited to open the first fitness facility in Louisiana for people living with disabilities, with an intentional focus on recovery programs for individuals with paralysis and amputation.”

The facility’s director is Quanteria Williams-Porche, who holds a doctorate in physical therapy, previously worked with Touro Infirmary and has experience working with people affected by spinal cord injuries, strokes, amputation, traumatic brain injury and other neurological conditions. Williams-Porche first met Raymond Jr. in his Touro Infirmary room just weeks after his accident. 

“To be opening this center – the first ever in Louisiana – shows Mark’s determination. He’s recognized how critical it is for this city and state to be more inclusive for those living with disabilities,” said Williams-Porche. “This facility will fill a giant void for the physically limited population of New Orleans and surrounding areas. It will provide a place where people can comfortably and easily achieve their fitness goals and continue their recovery.”

Board Vicechair Darryl Willis, who is vice president of energy at Microsoft, sees the ribbon-cutting as a catalyst for progress in Louisiana and improving lives.

“There is a zero degree of separation when it comes to knowing someone who is living with paralysis or amputation,” said Willis. “It can be a result of an accident, a stroke or diabetes, which continues to ravage people in this state. These are our friends, family, neighbors and really this is us.”



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