Many of you are familiar with the inspiration behind Specialty Athletic Training and my relationship with a boy named Ben. However, there is another guy that also holds a special place in my life. My buddy Patrick.
Patrick and I both stepped onto the Lewis & Clark College campus at the same time in the Fall of 2003. It was my first year playing collegiate football and his first year serving as team manager.
If you know Patrick, then you know how contagious his smile can be and how he uses it to his advantage. He used to have me and other athletes but him CD's (back when Napster was still a thing) of playlists that he created. This passion for music eventually led him to become the DJ for the home volleyball and basketball game for the Pioneers.
Being around the weight room and the athletes, he naturally gravitated to working out. We would have him join for a set on the bench or some arm farm action, but he never had a program specifically designed for him. I was ecstatic when he parents asked me to train him after I founded Specialty Athletic Training.
Fast forward to 2019 and we're still hanging out on Palatine Hill. He's a staple in the L&C athletic community and is still DJing home games for the volleyball and basketball teams. He is also working out with our trainers twice a week, and will often come in early to get in extra cardio!
Thank you for being a part of my a part of my life for the 15+ years, Patrick. Continue being you and bringing joy to everyone that you meet!
Is there really any better way to spend your rest time in between sets? We think not! Talk about active recovery ;)
We strive to make fitness fun and have our clients leave with a smile with anticipation of their next session. Here our buddy Wyatt and trainer Alex have a little dance off during Wyatt's rest time. Look at those moves!
Many of our clients need to work on their balance and we use either blast straps or TRX straps to provide extra support. Here is how we use the straps to do forward lunges.
1) Grab the handles of the straps
2) Stand far enough back that the arms can be fully extended
3) Both feet should be pointed forward shoulder width apart
4) When stepping forward keep both feet pointed forward and torso erect
5) Drop the back knee 1-2 inches above the floor
6) Do not lean forward or let the lead leg knee lean past the toes of the lead foot
7) Use the straps and needed to assist with lowering and standing
Michael is one of the biggest Portland Trailblazers fans around and has a smile that is super contagious. He has been working out with us at our Vancouver facility for the past year now has been LOVING it! We asked him what he like about training with us at Specialty Athletic Training and this was his response.
Sports and athletic events are an amazing way for humans to come together and compete. More than that, these events bring about a sense of community, develop teamwork and promote social skills. Within the special needs population, Special Olympics does this exactly. This organization promotes the unification of over “4.9 million athletes with intellectual disabilities” through daily activities within 172 countries (specialolympics.org). Even more exciting is that every two years, Special Olympics hosts the World Games where over 7,000 athletes and 20,000 volunteers come together.
This year, the Special Olympics World Games will be held in Abu Dhabi from March 14th-21st.
These games encourage local governments to become more involved in advocating for individuals with disabilities and encourage volunteers to become a part of this amazing event. Get ready to watch these incredible athletes as they participate in various summer sports including beach volleyball, powerlifting, table tennis, swimming and more!
Are you interested in volunteering? Check out the following link for more information.
Good luck in the games, athletes!
We see clients of all variety of ages, diagnoses, and physical ability levels. Their programs are individualized and may look different but we always meet them at their level.
Our clients are used to having authoritarian figures in their lives. Parents dictating their schedules, teachers and therapists making them do no preferred tasks, and the list goes on and on.
We take an "alternative" approach. We meet them where they are and allow them to provide input on their workout routine and give them ownership of THEIR program. We strive making their visit with us a preferred activity that they look forward to, not something that they feel like they're being forced to do.
Switching that mindset unlocks their intrinsic motivation, which is the most powerful thing of all!
"Try and touch the ceiling."
"But that's impossible."
"You're right! Here, try and touch my hand."
Everybody learns differently and has their own way of interpreting the world and their surroundings. Many of our clients are very literal in the way that they think, which directly impacts the coaching ques that we use.
Many times coaches can get stuck in the rut of using the same ques with every client and then are thrown off when someone doesn't understand what they mean.
If this happens to you, don't get frustrated. Take a deep breathe and think about a different way that you can explain it that may make sense to your client. Make it relatable in a way that their brain can process it.
Every piece of equipment has a purpose. Many of our clients struggle with the downward movement (eccentric phase) of the bench press. We use it as a teaching tool to transition them to the traditional barbell or dumbbell bench exercises. Here are two ways that we use it to help:
It provides a safer and easier spotting solution for our trainer to maintain the safety of our clients.
They often get an itch on their leg, or something in their eye, and will let go of the bar altogether. The guided bar of the Smith Machine takes out a lot of variables in those circumstances in comparison to the traditional barbell or dumbbell versions.
Your muscles also experience a different sensory feeling during the eccentric phase vs the concentric phase of the bench press (downward vs upward). For many, they have never had to slowly control a weighted object and it is a new feeling for them. We will gradually load the bar and work specifically on getting them comfortable with this feeling. The goal is to have them be able to control more weight during this phase than they could do during the upward movement.
What is the most important aspect of our job as trainers? Is it the programming? Is it nutritional advice? Is it teaching proper form and having progressions and regressions for each exercise?
All of those are important, but mean nothing if you can't reach your client. We make fitness fun and make it a priority to increase our clients' self confidence and have them leave with a smile every day. If they don't want to come back, then everything else doesn't matter.
Parents can sometime be hesitant to contact us because they are concerned about how their child will behave. In a private or public setting their child may exhibit violent behavior, or have self injurious behaviors. They often ask, "Are you okay working with our child, even if they exhibit behaviors X, Y, and Z?" Our answer always remains the same, "Absolutely."
It is not human nature to be violent towards one another. There is ALWAYS a trigger behind any behavior. The trick is to identify that trigger by looking for ques to help prevent an unwanted behavior from occurring.
Through the years we have had several parents warn us about their child's certain behaviors that have caused other providers to work with them in a constant state of fear. And honestly, we rarely see those said behaviors at Specialty Athletic Training, and the reason is because we care about our clients on a personal level. Humans are not inherently bad in nature, so we don't treat or talk about our clients as if they are.
Behaviors are often a way of communication and can be easily misinterpreted. It is our job in those situations to figure out what our clients are trying to tell us. Are they exhibiting frustration between transitions? Are they becoming frustrated with the demands being placed on them? Are they becoming visibly agitated and beginning to be more physically aggressive?
By identifying triggers and the precursors of behavior, we are able to simply talk to our clients and assure them that we are there to support them and that everything will be alright.
It is very important to remember that there is always a trigger behind a behavior. Being able to identify those triggers and treating our clients with respect is only one of many ways that makes us unique at Specialty Athletic Training.
About the Author
Ryan Lockard, CSCS, CSPS is the head trainer and founder of Specialty Athletic Training. He a member 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 and a Certified Special Populations 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.