Interview with founder Ryan Lockard as featured in Spectrums Magazine (June 2014)
How long have you been working in the autism community?
I began working in the autism community my senior year in college back in 2007, but specialized in serving their exercise and fitness needs by creating Specialty Athletic Training in June 2012.
What is one myth about autism that you'd like to squelch?
Limits are automatically placed on a child once they are diagnosed with autism and too many professionals and parents have preset expectations of what that child will or will not be able to do in the future, especially with fitness. A majority, if not all, of our clients have had some sort of negative experience with exercise and fitness in the past because of the expectations and lack of understanding. I love providing a fun and positive environment for all of our clients to learn how to enjoy being healthy and continuously watching their self esteem and self confidence soar, which carries over to all aspects of their lives.
What makes your business unique?
Specialty Athletic Training provides professional personal training for individuals with special needs. We are the only personal training business in the nation that specifically serves this population. We are located at Lewis & Clark College, which is also annually ranked in the top five most beautiful campuses in the nation. We have college students that volunteer as peer mentors to workout with our clients, providing a more group oriented workout. Everyone in the weight room and on campus are aware about Specialty Athletic Training and have been very supportive. When walking thru the hallways, it is not uncommon for one of our clients to spark up a conversation with one of the athletes, coaches, or faculty members. It is a very welcoming community.
What are some of your personal interests/hobbies?
I love living a healthy lifestyle and being active. Lifting weights, playing sports, and running are all things that enjoy doing on a daily basis. I also thoroughly enjoy traveling and experiencing new cultures.
About the Author
Ryan Lockard, CSCS, CFNS, is the head trainer and founder of Specialty Athletic Training. He is President of the Autism Society of Oregon's Board of Directors and is accredited by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, as well as by the International Sports Science Association (ISSA) as a Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist. Ryan has worked with individuals with special needs since 2007 and has over 10,000 hours of 1:1 instruction working with individuals that have various special needs.