Special Strong seeks to empower the mind, body, and spirit of the special needs population with the strength and confidence to live a more independent and abundant life. Through our services, values, and culture, it is our desire to unlock potential and unleash the “Special Strong” within every person!
To make a global impact on health, fitness, and education for the special needs community in the United States.
In 2011, Daniel Stein felt called to train children, adolescents, and adults with special needs. With certifications through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), the National Federation of Personal Trainers (NFPT) and becoming a Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer, Daniel specializes in health and fitness for the special needs population. In 2016, Daniel and his wife, Trinity, started Special Strong.
Special Strong operates with Christian values from the Bible, which drives everything that we do with our clients. Since the launch of Special Strong, their team has been able to improve the lives of hundreds of clients affected by autism, asperbergs, down syndrome, ADD/ADHD, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, stroke victims, obesity, and much more! It is their desire to expand Special Strong into new markets with the desire to affect positive change in as many lives as possible.
Sonia Torres Mobile Trainer & Group Instructor
Sonia’s passion for helping others started at a young age. She grew up with five other siblings, one of which was diagnosed with LD (learning disability) and a BD (behavioral disability). As a child, it was never easy seeing her older brother struggle with social interaction and severe mood swings, but it is something that she witnessed frequently and learned how to cope and assist with his feelings/emotions.
Growing up Sonia was an active child who loved to play sports and was involved with her schools FCA/SADD program and choir. Through this group, she volunteered at the local Salvation Army and participated in fundraisers for charitable organizations.
In 2014, she started her health and fitness journey while living in Florida. At the time, she was experiencing some hardships and decided to focus her time and energy on something that was positive, so she started running. She found it to be relaxing and therapeutic and soon began to build up her endurance and completed multiple 5, 10, and 15 k races. Soon after, she was introduced to yoga and resistance training and fell in love with other forms of exercise. After several years of adhering to a healthier lifestyle, she recognized the true health benefits that occurred both mentally and physically throughout her fitness journey. She truly believes that positive choices lead to positive outcomes and that God always has a purpose for everyone.
After spending over ten years in the client service/administrative field, she decided to pursue her purpose in training. She holds an NCCA certification through the American Council on Exercise and has multiple certificates in the health and wellness field including: Group Fitness Instructor, Mindful Eating, Metabolic Conditioning, Postural Assessments, Pre and Post Natal Fitness, and Stability and Mobility Training. She has worked at a powerlifting studio, as well as in a box gym setting. She has experience working with individuals aging from 16-75 and with a variety of ailments.
She loves to spend time with her family and her dog Cloud. She also enjoys reading, cooking, hiking, outdoor running, and strength training.
Shannon Harding Office Manager & Social Media Director
Shannon has been in the Information Technology industry for over 17 years and has over 10 years experience in social media management.She did volunteer work as a student teachers aid in a private school for learning disabled children and she has a passion for helping people and making a positive difference in the world.
She is a wife and mother and in her free time she enjoys yoga, cooking, reading, and gardening
Heather Blanton Mobile Trainer & Group Instructor
Heather studied Kinesiology with an emphasis in motor behavior and a minor in psychology at Texas A&M University. Throughout her education, she was fascinated with the connection of the human body and the brain. She studied many scientific studies that proved exercise has many benefits including stress reduction, increased brain function and much more. She believes that fitness is a combination of stability and control, flexibility, strength, endurance, and power. With a background in both individual and group personal training, as well as competitive gymnastics, she found a passion for working with people to better themselves as a whole through exercise. She strongly believes in the beautiful individuality of each of us and she finds so much joy in creating personalized programs to help each client reach their goals. Whether starting from basic movement or not, progressing slower or faster, making changes large or small, each point of progress should be recognized, celebrated, and built upon. Improvement is the ultimate goal in the gym while having the patience for either the mind or body to catch up in order to maintain balance. When she worked with clients of the special needs population for the first time, Heather saw some of the most meaningful changes in both physical abilities as well as mental and emotional health. Her heart was touched in a very special way! This quickly became her favorite part of training. She loves breaking exercises down in the gym to be applicable and functional in the everyday lives of her clients and their families. Her desire is to improve the lives of all of God’s children.
Heather is married and she enjoys spending quality time with her husband, her dog, Shiloh, and her cat, May-May. She loves going on hikes, improving herself in the gym, tending to her plants, watching her favorite TV shows, and trying out new recipes. She and her husband attend the Carrollton campus of Bent Tree Bible Fellowship. They both love to worship our Lord and Savior and are devoted to studying the Lord’s word daily. Her biggest goal is to spread the light and love of our awesome God through her words, actions, work, and in her daily life.
Joy Horn Mobile Trainer & Group Instructor
Joy has always had a passion for health and fitness. As a student at Oral Roberts University, she learned that health, nutrition, and exercise were not only necessary for a good quality of life but also fun and fulfilling. Later, she had the rewarding experience of working with children with special needs at an educational center. She decided to pursue a career in personal training and became certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine to work with the special needs population.
When Joy isn’t working out, she likes to read, write, and volunteer at her church. She considers herself energetic, positive, encouraging, confident, and compassionate.
Taylor Sedate Registered Dietitian & Nutritionist
Taylor received her Bachelors of Science/Family and Consumer Science degree in Nutrition Sciences (Dietetics) from Baylor University in 2016. She then completed her Dietetic Internship with Abilene Christian University in 2017 and her Masters of Science degree in Nutrition in 2018, part of which included a research project on the growth and nutrition needs for children with neurologic conditions and special needs. Taylor believes that nutrition is essential for giving the body the best fuel possible while also being enjoyed and simple for families. She has a passion for the special needs population as she believes that by making small changes, eating nourishing food can become an enjoyable activity. This can help to provide optimal health for clients and their family and open doors for new opportunities with newfound confidence. Taylor enjoys working with patients and families to create manageable goals and help them to understand the “why” behind nutrition to improve one’s health. She enjoys researching and hopes to bring knowledge of dietetics and compassionate understanding to her counseling sessions with clients and families.
Taylor is married and enjoys cooking, reading a good book, spending time with friends and family, playing board games, or going for a run. She and her husband attend and serve at the Dallas Northway campus of The Village Church in the elementary school ministry. She seeks to use her passion for nutrition and helping others to bring glory to God in all that she does.
Aaron Watts Mobile Trainer & Group Instructor
Aaron has been involved in fitness since the age of 5, where he played soccer and basketball. He stopped playing soccer during his senior of high school so he could focus on his final year but in the process, he got out of shape and overweight. Once he got into college he studied on health and fitness and learned how important it was to work out and live a healthy lifestyle. This led him to major in kinesiology and he received his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas in 2011. In his final semester at North Texas, he enrolled in a class called, “movement of special populations” where he learned a practical approach to conducting physical activity programs for individuals with disabilities. While earning his degree, he also volunteered at a special needs daycare where he helped lead an exercise class. Since he has graduated, he has been a personal trainer for over seven years and has worked with a variety of clientele. His passion in life is helping people live a long and healthy life. When Aaron met his wife, she was working at an autism center and taught him about the autism spectrum. This greatly benefited when interacting with his nephew who was diagnosed with autism.
During his free time, he likes to spend time with my wife and two dogs. He enjoys traveling and taking vacations with his wife and living a healthy lifestyle.
Lee Seale Mobile Trainer & Group Instructor
Lee has been in the health and fitness industry for over 20 years. His journey with health and fitness started at the age of 21 when he decided to pursue bodybuilding and enter competitions. After he won a first and second place, he decided it was time to pursue a career in the health & fitness world. He graduated with honors from UTA, majoring in kinesiology. While he attended school, he interned at a neuromuscular facility that specialized in helping paraplegic, stroke & special needs members. He quickly found that he had a love and passion for the special needs population as many of the members became great friends with him. Lee and his wife were blessed to give birth to a son who had down syndrome. Shortly after this birth, they learned their son had a weak heart and passed away after only 13 days. The loss was devastating but it gave him even more of a burden to pursue helping others in the special needs community.
Lee has happily married for over 20 years and is extremely fortunate to have a beautiful 6-year-old daughter. He enjoys family time and collecting legos with his daughter. He makes health and fitness a lifestyle by working out several times a week and loves teaching others to do the same.
Jenna Courtney Mobile Trainer & Marketing Manager
Jenna’s passion for getting into health and fitness started when she realized it was one of the only variables in her life that she had control over and she knew wanted to help other people achieve that same empowerment of self-control. Her life motto then became “to be generous with your knowledge & educate others.”
After graduating from Iowa State University with a B.S. in Public Relations, she moved to Thailand to teach English at a local school. She has always had a passion for people, which led her to health & fitness education. After coaching gymnastics with the special needs population, she realized what an impact she could make in their lives, physically and emotionally. She then became a Certified Personal Trainer & Fitness Nutrition Specialist through ACE Fitness, so she could help give others the opportunity to live a healthy, happy life!
Cindy Elder Mobile Trainer & Group Instructor
As a graduate of Texas Woman’s University in the field of Therapeutic Recreation, Cindy has 30 years of experience working with special needs clients. She was the Director of Aquatic Therapy at Texhoma Medical Center and has worked at Baylor Hospital and Medical City Dallas with a wide variety of special needs clients. She has a passion for medical missions and has served with Eastwest Ministry in India, China, and Nepal. Cindy is also an active member of the Children’s Ministry team of Park Cities Presbyterian Church. Most importantly Cindy is the proud mother of two amazing sons.
Akilah Muhammad Mobile Trainer & Group Instructor
Akilah has received her Bachelor’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology from the University of Texas at Dallas. She has been a licensed Speech Therapist Assistant for 14 years and is honored to serve children with very special and unique needs. She has always been ready to teach, encourage and help children reach their fullest potential and there have been many times when they have been the teacher and taught her to think outside the box. This special population is dear to her heart and she enjoys making a difference in the lives of these families.
Akilah came to know fitness with having her own struggles with weight and became interested in becoming a certified Personal Trainer to educate herself and has received her certification through NASM. She has always been active growing up playing sports such as basketball, volleyball, and softball. With her passion for fitness and the special needs population, Akilah is excited to combine both speech therapy and personal training to help serve, encourage, teach, and inspire greatness from within for those with special and unique needs!
Akilah is a proud mom of 3 beautiful children who each have their own way of relating and calling on her. Akilah enjoys attending and serving at One Community Church, reading, playing board games, exploring and spending time with her kiddos and loved ones. Akilah seeks to make a difference in her home and her community all for the Glory of God!
Trish Snyder Brain Integration Expert
Tricia has a Master’s Degree in Exercise Science along with over 20 years of experience in health, fitness, rehabilitation, and business development. Her love for fitness started with her love for track, culminating with a five-year career at Wichita State University in NCAA Division 1 Track and Field and Cross-Country. Being a collegiate athlete allowed for a variety of experiences that ultimately fostered a love for rehabilitation and research. Tricia has had the opportunity to apply her education to a vast range of health and fitness outlets, but her love for the special needs population expanded as parents began to entrust her with their special needs children and as her children began to have friends with learning delays and disorders. With Tricia’s desire to learn and help others, she became proficient in brain integration movements; using specific exercises to create brain/neurological connections needed for learning, social interactions, and everyday tasks. She is excited to assist Special Strong with the development of specific training models and programs that provide an environment for the special needs population to become strong in mind, body, and spirit.
Autumn Lewis Registered Dietitian & Nutritionist
Autumn received her Bachelors of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition (Dietetics) from Colorado State University in 2011 and then completed a Dietetic Internship from California Polytechnic University Pomona in 2012. She is also a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). Autumn’s approach to health and fitness is threefold; use food to nourish the body, food should taste good, and keep it simple. Autumn has had first-hand experience in herself, and the clients she has worked with that gut health is paramount to having thriving health. Autumn has a passion for the special needs population because she believes nutrition can be the game changer in allowing them to achieve independence and live an abundant life. Autumn desires to partner with clients and caregivers to help them achieve nourishment through education, coaching, and understanding. She promises to demonstrate knowledge and compassion with all of her clients.
Autumn is married and has a two-year-old son. She enjoys family time, the outdoors, shopping at farmer’s markets, and attending and serving at Preston Trail Community Church in Frisco.
Daniel Stein Founder & Mobile Trainer
Daniel has been involved in the fitness industry for over ten years and has owned his own private training business since 2013. His passion for health and fitness led him to get certified through NASM, NFPT, and ACSM. He also holds a specialty certification as a Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer (CIFT) and as a Certified Autism Trainer, which allows him to train individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities. In 2013, Daniel married his beautiful wife, Trinity. A few years later, they prayerfully started Special Strong to pursue their calling of working with the special needs population. They both attend Gateway Church in Frisco and serve in ministry together. In his spare time, he enjoys working out, reading, and fishing.
Trinity Stein Co-Founder & Operations Manager
Trinity has been in the administrative field for over ten years. She has experience managing over 20 employees and has received multiple job promotions in previous positions. In 2012, she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology to pursue her calling to become a biblical counselor. In 2013, she married her husband, Daniel Stein. Together, they started Special Strong to serve the special needs population. Trinity currently handles all of the operations, billing, and bookkeeping of Special Strong.
Trinity loves ministering to other women who are broken, hurting or have experienced abuse. She attends church at Gateway Church in Frisco, TX with her husband. Trinity enjoys volunteer work, working out, reading, and attending theatrical productions.
Danny Aguilar Licensed Massage Therapist
Danny’s passion for health and wellness started when his sister became diagnosed with a rare disorder called Angelman syndrome. Danny saw the way her quality of life was affected and wanted to make a difference in the lives others. In 2011, he decided to become a licensed massage therapist to improve the quality of life for others. Since then, Danny has worked at Massage Envy and has managed his own business providing in-home massage therapy services. In 2017, Danny decided joined Special Strong to offer in-home massage therapy to the special needs population. With Danny’s advanced knowledge of anatomy and flexibility techniques, he can improve the lives of the special needs population.
In his spare time, Danny enjoys playing the piano for his worship team at his church. He and his lovely wife reside in McKinney, Texas and love to travel. Danny is currently offering a free 30-minute massage for existing Special Strong clients and 50% off a first-time massage for new clients.
Angela Sands Mobile Trainer & Group Instructor
Angela is passionate about fitness and helping others see their true potential. She also holds a special place in her heart for individuals with special needs. Angela has a Bachelor of Science in Therapeutic Recreation from Texas State University and received her personal trainer certification through the Cooper Institute so she can inspire and push others to achieve their fitness goals. She also holds her teaching certification and was a special education teacher at Wylie ISD for over five years.
Angela and her husband have 3 boys, who definitely keep her on her toes. During her free time, she enjoys running, working out, and completing obstacle course races.
Monica Piper ABA/BCBA Behavior Therapist
Monica has a passion for helping kids with special needs reach their highest potential. She has a fourteen-year-old son with autism, and she found this passion through him. Monica received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Cornell University. After receiving her MBA from Ohio State University, she worked in consulting. After her son was diagnosed with autism, she returned to school and received her MA in Psychology specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). She is now a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and is excited to be working with the Special Strong team to integrate structure and behavior therapy to fitness classes.
Victoria Anderson Accounting Manager
Victoria has been in the accounting field, both public and in-house, for over forty years. She lives in McKinney with her husband of 41 years, Bruce, her daughter, Liz and her Mother-in-law. She enjoys being the mother to Liz and her brother, and grandmother to her two granddaughters. Victoria is an active member of Grace Outreach Center in Plano, where she serves as one of the teaching leaders and worship leader in the women’s ministry. She also enjoys Bible study, music, gardening, reading and cooking. Victoria also serves with Trinity Stein as co-leader of the Special Needs Women’s Prayer Group. She has a heart for those with special needs as well as their families and caregivers.
Carolyn Adams Mobile Trainer & Bootcamp Instructor
Carolyn discovered her calling to work with special needs after her youngest son was diagnosed with Autism. At a time that can be very difficult for families, she found hope and strength through her faith, family, running, and a new career path as a special education paraprofessional. After working in special education for nearly ten years, and running marathons across the country raising money for charitable organizations such as, Special Olympics Illinois, Organization for Autism Research, and Leukemia Lymphoma Society, she felt it was time to pursue her dreams of combining her two passions, fitness, and special needs. After achieving her personal training certification from NASM, she is overjoyed to be joining Special Strong as a boot camp instructor. She is dedicated to motivating and helping people with special needs and their families live a better life through a healthier, more active lifestyle.
In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her wonderful, supportive husband, three amazing boys, and her three sweet, lovable, dogs. She is still an active runner and hopes to someday qualify for Boston marathon.
OUR CORE VALUES
At Special Strong, we are governed by Christian values, using the acronym “SPHERES.” We created this acronym because we realized that every single person has their own “spheres” of influence. Through stewardship & generosity, passion, humility, empathy, respect & integrity, excellence, and a focus on success, we have created a life-giving culture where solutions can be created, people can prosper and God can be glorified.
STEWARDSHIP & GENEROSITY
We are Faithful Stewards Who Practice Generosity Towards Others
“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” 2 Corinthians 9:6
- Give extra care and attention to our clients and team with safety as our number one priority
- Commit to use our time, treasure, and talents to glorify God in everything we do
- Improve on our gifts and strengths by seeking further education
- Intentional with giving words of encouragement and gratitude to make others feel valued and appreciated
- Serve the community, ministries, and non-profits with our resources
We Reflect Passion with our Business, Clients, and Health & Fitness
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for people.” Colossians 3:23-24
- Inspire others by doing everything with all of our heart
- Serve our clients and each other as a team through the high quality of our products and services
- Operate as “thermostat leaders” that creates a positive, energizing, optimistic and fun environment
- Value, promote and live a virtuous lifestyle that protects our reputation as a company with Christian values
- Lead by example with a healthy lifestyle through exercise and nutrition
We Walk in Humility by Thinking About Ourselves Less
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3
- Place God First, others second, and ourselves last.
- Recognize the source of all blessing and success comes from the Lord, not man
- Extend grace and accountability to turn mistakes into opportunities
- Commitment to personal growth and continuous improvement
- Hungry for honest feedback from clients and teammates
We Seek to Relate and Understand Another Person’s Walk of Life
“Do for others what you would like them to do for you. This is a summary of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12
- Help others realize that we are all unique and “Special Strong!”
- Practice sensitivity towards the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of others
- Accept others where they are without judgment – physically, spiritually, and emotionally
- Show appreciation through positive reinforcement, rewards, and genuine incentives
RESPECT & INTEGRITY
We Act the Same in Public and Private with Respect Towards all People & Their Beliefs
“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8
- Communicate what we mean, and mean what we say
- Do the right thing, knowing that someone is always watching.
- Show that we care about others by listening to what they have to say
- Assume the best in each person to bring out their best
- Show respect for and value all individuals for their diverse backgrounds, beliefs, experiences, styles, and ideas
We Strive for Excellence, Not Perfection
“Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other presidents and high officers because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.” Daniel 6:3
- Use initiative to act on opportunities and do more than is required of us
- Fuel all of our actions by remembering “why” we do what we do
- Never settling for “good enough” with our team, products, and services
- Always leave people and places better than you found them
We Define Success as Maximizing our God-Given Gifts to Serve Others
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
- Achieve results from our God-given gifts and celebrate when we do
- Help people to be their best by providing coaching and feedback
- Have fun while working with others as a team to accomplish results and win
- Choose to have a positive attitude and drive to get the job done
- Make the tough decisions to protect the SPHERES culture