What is a Gym for Special Needs? 5 Key Benefits  

Everyone can benefit from regular trips to the gym. Getting the blood pumping, burning off excess energy, and improving motor skills are all excellent reasons to visit your local fitness club. A gym for special needs offers all of those benefits and more.  

Numerous independent studies (like this one) show that movement-based therapy not only improves motor skills in children and young adults with ASD and ADHD— it also boosts communication, attention, behavior, and academic performance.

Key Benefits of a Gym for Special Needs

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While exercising at home can be beneficial, visiting a gym for special needs is often even more rewarding. So, what is it that makes a gym for special needs so—well—special?

Below are the top 5 key benefits of visiting a gym like Special Strong, which caters to special needs children and adults.

1. Certified and Trained Personal Trainers

If you have access to the right information and the proper equipment, you can often get a good workout at any gym, or even in the comfort of home:

However, a certified personal trainer at a gym for special needs can provide the perfect workout, based on that particular day, week, and month’s unique difficulties.

A Special Strong Certified personal trainer can structure an exercise plan that’s tailored specifically to your child or family member, rather than just to everyone who has your particular diagnosis.

Even more importantly, a trained exercise therapist knows how to communicate. They offer the best possible emotional support to those with special needs while they adjust to a new exercise, a new environment, and a new person.  

2. Always Accessible

The ADA has guidelines in place to protect the rights of people with disabilities. However, many traditional fitness centers still aren’t highly accessible.

If you depend on mobility support to get around, this can be a significant barrier to daily exercise.

A gym for special needs nearly always solves that problem. Limited mobility access varies from facility to facility. However, a gym for special needs will typically be more attuned to your needs than a traditional fitness center.

In addition to mobility accessibility, a gym for special needs has added support for mental and emotional challenges. Exercising with the wrong equipment or in the wrong setting can easily lead to frustration and meltdowns. A gym for special needs considers that and creates strategic spaces.  

3. Healthy Atmosphere

The emotional journey of an individual with special needs engaged in an exercise therapy routine can often be fraught with some significant obstacles. Primarily, the atmosphere within many traditional fitness environments can be highly competitive, with an overwhelming emphasis on athletics and weight loss.

For those with special needs, this hyper-competitive environment can amplify feelings of discomfort, pressure or inadequacy, further distancing them from their physical fitness goals. While the intention is to help individuals improve their health through physical fitness, the typical gym setting may inadvertently end up being a barrier, leaving some members feeling alienated or unsupported.

Yet, there is a silver lining. Not all fitness environments are made equal. Gyms tailored specifically for those with special needs, such as ‘Special Strong’, create an atmosphere that is understanding, supportive, and inclusive. The emphasis here isn’t on competition or ideal body images. Instead, the focus is on helping individuals feel comfortable with themselves and their progress, whatever pace that might be.

Moreover, the staff at these specialized gyms are trained and experienced in understanding the behavioral challenges that often accompany conditions like ADHD and autism spectrum disorders. The trainers and employees of a gym like Special Strong recognize these potential struggles and extend their support rather than penalizing members.

4. Building Relationships

When you become a member of a gym for special needs, you become a member of a community that can relate to your daily struggles, lessons learned, and victories large and small.

This aspect of joining any fitness program is often overlooked, and it’s even more essential in special needs fitness therapy. The benefit is twofold:

  • As a parent or family member, you get the support you need and crave. If you have trouble finding this kind of understanding support elsewhere, a gym for special needs could be a life-changing addition to your social sphere.
  • Your special needs child or loved one feels seen, heard, and like part of the group. We all know what it’s like to be the odd man out, and that’s the last thing we want for our special needs child or family member. While it’s often unavoidable in everyday life, a gym for special needs can remove that added hurdle from your exercise routine.

5. Added Resources and Education

Joining a gym that caters specifically to special needs has unique advantages. One significant perk is access to numerous additional resources and educational tools. These resources are beneficial not only for the participant. They are also incredibly helpful for family, friends, and other supporters. This makes the gym a versatile platform for everyone involved.

Take, for instance, the case of ‘Special Strong’ – a gym specifically designed for individuals with special needs. At Special Strong, members can access a wide array of resources ranging from comprehensive educational courses and assessment tools to targeted training.

Furthermore, the training and certification provided by Special Strong are recognized by the National Academy of Sports Medicine – a testament to the quality of the education provided. This approval allows them to operate as an Approved Continuing Education Provider.

The benefits aren’t limited to personal trainers or fitness professionals. Even other service providers, group facilitators, educators, and family members can immensely benefit from these programs. The certification provided offers valuable insights into effective strategies and methods for handling challenging behaviors, managing meltdowns, and improving overall care for individuals with special needs.

A special needs-focused gym serves a dual role. First, it promotes your physical fitness. Second, it equips you with essential knowledge and strategies to create a more inclusive and understanding environment. The educational tools these facilities offer can be transformative. They can change you from a sideline supporter to an active player in your loved one’s journey with special needs.

Things to Consider in Choosing a Gym for Individuals with Special Needs

Choosing the right gym for individuals with special needs requires thoughtful consideration to ensure a positive and inclusive fitness experience. First, assess the gym’s accessibility features, ensuring that it accommodates various mobility requirements, including ramps, elevators, and accessible restrooms.

Inquire about the staff’s training and expertise in working with individuals with diverse needs. Trained professionals who understand the nuances of adapting fitness routines for special needs are essential for a supportive environment. Additionally, evaluate the available equipment to ensure it caters to a range of abilities, providing adaptive options for diverse workouts.

Moreover, consider the gym’s overall atmosphere; it should be welcoming, non-judgmental, and inclusive. Lastly, investigate the gym’s commitment to inclusivity, including any adaptive programs, sensory-friendly spaces, and flexibility in accommodating individual needs. Prioritizing these considerations is important. This way, you can select a gym that promotes physical well-being. Moreover, it can provide a supportive and inclusive environment for individuals with special needs to thrive.

What Makes a Gym for Special Needs Different?

We all know the benefits of exercise: it helps our body, our mind, and our spirit. Those benefits are even more critical to address when you have special needs. One of the best ways to gain motivation and find the resources you need for a productive exercise program is by visiting a gym and obtaining the help of a personal trainer.

However, not all gyms are created equal. Some gyms—those designed specifically with special needs in mind—cater to the physical, mental, and emotional demands of people with ADHD, ASD, and more.

Special Strong is a gym that’s designed to meet special needs. That means improving motor skills, but also improving communication and homing in on problem behaviors.

While not everyone has access to a Special Strong Certified trainer, you can seek out a gym for special needs in your area or even earn Special Strong Certification yourself.

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Special Strong provides adaptive fitness for children, adolescents, and adults with mental, physical and cognitive challenges. Start your own Special Strong gym franchise today and create a lasting impact on your community.