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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

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 supports 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 supports 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.  

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3. Healthy Atmosphere

One of the most significant barriers between a person with special needs and a rewarding exercise therapy routine is emotional. Fitness environments tend to be highly competitive and unsupportive towards goals other than athletics and weight loss.

If you have special needs, that feeling can be tenfold. Instead of supporting your journey to health through physical fitness, the gym environment can stand in your way.

Additionally, the trainers and employees at a gym for special needs, like Special Strong, understand the behavioral challenges that can come part and parcel with many ADHD and autism spectrum disorders. Rather than penalize members for potential behavioral struggles, we’re here to help.

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

In addition to all of the benefits above, a gym for special needs may also come with added resources for family, friends, and other supporters.

In the case of Special Strong, our gym for special needs offers nearly endless education courses, assessment tools, and targeted training. Special Strong Certification is recognized by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and we’re an Approved Continuing Education Provider.

You don’t have to be a personal trainer to reap the benefits: certification helps all types of service providers, group facilitators, educators, and even family members learn strategies and methods for meltdown management and challenge behaviors.

A gym for special needs has the potential of connecting you with educational resources, community resources, and more.

What Makes a Gym for Special Needs Different?

We all know the benefits of exercise: it helps our body, our mind, and our spirit. When you have special needs, those benefits are even more critical to address. 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.


Special Strong provides fitness and nutrition for special needs children, adolescents, and adults with autism and other disabilities. Through our online training platform, we also provide special needs fitness certification courses for personal trainers and service providers who want to work autism and other disabilities.

GET RESOURCES FOR SPECIAL NEEDS