(KPTV) – While gyms remain closed, more and more groups have turned to virtual workouts that might be more of the norm after the virus subsides.
Ryan Lockard found his career calling while playing, then coaching at Lewis & Clark.
“I found a job on Craigslist working with a 13-year-old boy with autism and that part-time job ended up becoming my independent study, so I wrote a paper on autism and my experience working with Ben. He is the one that the logo is designed after and the inspiration behind the whole company, and he is like a little brother to me,” said Lockard.
That initial connection with his buddy Ben led Lockard to creating Specialty Athletic Training nearly eight years ago to serve athletes with special needs.
“A lot of people, especially now with social media, were reaching out to us saying, ‘We’d love if you were in this area or that area of this state so, geographically we were limited,’” Lockard said.
Normally working with four gym spaces in Portland, Vancouver, and Bend, Lockard’s trainers have gone fully virtual without skipping a beat or workout.
“How are you going to motivate someone via FaceTime or via Zoom? We always knew that we could do it, but it was definitely the unknown,” said Lockard.
Virtual interaction certainly isn’t the same as physical interaction, but those smiles still feel the same.
Henry from central Oregon made a connection with a pair of NFL twin brothers, Jacob and Cody Hollister from the Seahawks and Titans while working out with Specialty Athletic Training at Boss Sports Performance, the home of Philomath-raised Super Bowl champion Kevin Boss. It’s where professional athletes, like Beaver-turned-Minnesota Viking Blake Brandel had been sharing the same space.
“It’s pretty special and I think that is the biggest thing I pride myself in and going places of creating that community. Just being extremely grateful for that, but they are also grateful for seeing our clients and having them integrated in their environment as well, so it is always mutually beneficial. It really helps us breakdown the stigmas of special needs and diagnoses these kids sometimes have and then having those guys witness that too and see that our clients are putting in the work and then also have our clients see the work that what it looks like at that level, it’s a great experience,” Lockard said.
When asked how this virtual way will set them up going forward, Lockard said, “For us, it’s more of us setting it up where now we are able to go virtual and offer our training to anyone, anywhere, no matter what’s going on, which is pretty awesome going forward.”
Over the years, Specialty has grown larger than I ever could have imagined. With 4 training locations in the Pacific Northwest and having served over 450 individuals, our promo vid needed to be updated.
I looked around and immediately clicked with Travis Thompson of Elevation 0m and knew I wanted to work with him. The plan was to shoot at all four locations over the span of a month and release the new promotional video in April. We filmed Bend (Boss Sports Performance) on a Sunday, SE Portland (StrengthFarm Performance) on Monday, and then our world was put to a halt on Thursday due to COVID-19.
Sports has taught me a lot during my life and the lessons of handling adversity I still use on a daily basis. I coach football at La Salle Hugh School and we address handling these type of situations by the equation "E+R=O". The "E" in the equation stands for an event, the "R" stands for your response, and the "O" stands for the outcome.
Life happens and will throw you a variety of events that you have to respond to. Your response to the event determines the outcome. It is the only thing that you can control.
When COVID-19 turned my world upside down by shutting down gyms and placing my shoot with Elevation 0m on pause, I had a decision to make. To a sit and sulk that things didn't go as planned? Or do I look for a new way to serve our clients and potentially more people all over the world by shifting our business? I chose the latter.
This past Thursday, Travis came up to Portland to film Bradley Carter and Emily Hatch providing our services in the new virtual world 🌎 This wasn't the initial film that we intended to release, however it is a new business opportunity that will allow us to serve more people long term. Even after the COVID-19 pandemic ends (it will eventually). Remember that you always have a choice on how you can respond to events that happen in your life. It is your response that will dictate the outcome.
Access to services is a common barrier that many of our clients face on a daily basis. The fitness world is no exception. Founder Ryan Lockard created Specialty Athletic Training in 2012 to provide access to fitness to the special needs community. Since then we have trained over 400 individuals of various diagnoses (autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, ADHD, anxiety, Williams Syndrome, the list continues) ages, and ability levels.
During the first six years of being a company, we focused on growing our Portland Metro community. However we continued to hear the need for our services in Central Oregon. In 2018, we found a home in Central Oregon and began training clients at Boss Sports Performance in Bend, OR.
We strive to make fitness fun for all of our clients, but also promote inclusion, acceptance, and awareness for the disability community. Boss Sports Performance is a community based training facility that welcomed us with open arms and shares the same values; strength is for everyone. At our Central Oregon home, it is common to see our clients training along side Olympians, professional athletes, as well as their other peers that are looking to improve their fitness levels. It is a special place and we're happy that you get a glimpse of it in this video. We look forward to serving the Central Oregon community for many years to come!
As featured in Spectrum Life Magazine Winter 2019 Issue
Winter is no longer coming; it is finally here! The holiday season is in full swing and your child is about to home 24/7 with the schools taking a short hiatus. Changes in the weather and the daily routine may cause some increased anxiety and stress for everyone in the family, which is why it is even more important than ever to get your body moving!
This may seem like to your child the best opportunity to binge on playing Fortnite, or finally creating their own YouTube channel, it is important to get them moving. Exercise has been shown to help with self-regulation and help reduce stress, as well as the symptoms of anxiety and depression. The best way to get your child moving is by setting the example and join them. Chances are that they are more likely to follow your lead.
Here are five ideas to increase your family’s activity level and decrease the stress of the holiday season.
Add a twist to your holiday traditions – Each family has their own traditions during the holiday season. Whatever yours are, try to add an active twist to it. Does your family decorate a Christmas tree? Well, where do you buy your tree? Stores have made it convenient for you by offering trees for sale outside, similar to pumpkins in October. Try going to a u-cut tree farm this season. Walk around the farm with your family trying to find the “perfect” tree. Not only is it a great way to bond and create memories, but it will also get the entire family active.
Make the TV your workout partner – It may seem like a constant battle to limit your child’s screen time, especially when they’re on winter break. I know that I used to LOVE the winter breaks from school because that meant I could FINALLY play the newest Madden football game and get through an entire season (or two) all while lounging in my favorite bean bag chair. Replace that bean bag chair with that exercise bike from the garage. (If you don’t have an exercise bike, they can be found on Craigslist for under $100). Incentivize more screen time for riding the bike while they play.
Is your child not the video game type? No problem. You can add exercise breaks to any activity. Are they glued to the TV? Join them during the commercials for exercise time. Do they love reading a good book? Either agree on a page limit or set a timer before taking a quick exercise break.
The exercises don’t have to be complicated. Do simple bodyweight exercises that will increase their heart rate or walk up the stairs of your hallway or apartment complex. Remember, kids are often more inclined to do the exercises with you, instead of by themselves.
Dude, where’s my car? – Raise your hand if you scour the parking lot to find the closest spot when going to the grocery store or mall? Ok, put your hand down. We are all guilty of this. Make an attempt to park in the back of the parking lot to increase the distance that you must walk to go shopping. And keep an umbrella in your car to limit your excuse of walking due to the rain.
Sticker, please! – One thing that we’ve learned over the years at Specialty Athletic Training is that our clients LOVE stickers. We use a sticker chart at our Vancouver location and now we can’t imagine not having one. It is something that you can easily implement at home as well. Assign different stickers for different activities and then have a reward when a certain number of stickers has been reached. Did you walk for 30 minutes looking a Christmas lights? Green sticker. Did you and your child do exercises in between episodes of Stranger Things? Blue stickers for both of you. You get the idea. You can assign stickers and rewards however you want, but this should be a fun (and visual) way for the family to track their increased activity. Keep it fun and keep each other motivated!
Treat yo’ self – The holiday season can easily leave us feeling drained and our cups empty. Make sure to take the time to take care of yourself and refill your cup when needed. Try and take a nightly bubble bath, schedule that mani/pedi, or simply wake up 5-10 minutes earlier in the morning and meditate. Best way to take care of others is to take care of yourself. Plan time to get out of the holiday chaos and schedule in some “me” time.
As kids we are told to dream big. We are told to have aspirations to be great and to "shoot for the stars". So is it any surprise that it is common for children to want to be fireman, doctors, veterinarians, astronauts, or professional athletes? What did you want to be? I was a classic 80's & 90's kid that wanted to be like Mike. I was an obsessive Chicago Bulls fan and had Jordan posters plastered in my bedroom. I even had a habit of sticking my tongue out when I was concentrating, which thank goodness that faded over time. Although the odds of playing in the NBA are EXTREMELY bleak, 1 of 2,451 of men's high school players get drafted, I was still encouraged to chase that dream. Children with special needs are often not supported in such a way, although having similar dreams.
Every time someone is interested training with us at Specialty Athletic Training, we invite them to take a tour of the facility that is the most convenient for them. This gives them a chance to see the facility, meet with the trainer, and gain some understanding of what will be expected of them during the training session. It also gives us as trainers an opportunity to build a relationship with the client and learn more about their interests and their goals. These conversations often revolve around Minecraft, Marvel, and the latest YouTuber that recently went viral.
When I met my buddy Jack, the conversation started out in a similar manner. We chatted it up about Fortnite and swapped gamer tags. He saw the banners of the professional and Olympic athletes in the rafters of Boss Sports Performance, so we talked about each athlete and that is when he mentioned his own personal goal for coming to see me, going pro.
Jack is part of the Junior Wheelblazers and competes all over the Pacific Northwest. He wants to become a professional wheelchair basketball player.
His program is designed specifically to help him on the court. He needs the strength to pass the ball to his teammates and put up shots, so we do medicine ball exercises that increase his strength in various game like movements. He also needs to be able to have complete control of his chair and maneuver to get away from his defender, grab loose balls on the court, and play defense himself. We work on his core and upper body strength to give him the strength to control his chair, as well as the confidence to bend over and grab the ball off the ground as his chair continues to move forward.
His hard work is paying off. He is shooting the ball with ease and is a menace on defense. Keep dreaming big Jack and one day they'll be putting a banner in the rafters of you!
What does a workout look like at Specialty Athletic Training? We get this question A LOT! You would understand why if you knew the current obesity epidemic that is currently sweeping across the United States, especially how it is impacting the special needs community. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 1 in 5 children with special health care needs are considered obese. That number jumps to over 1 in 3 for adults. That is 38% and 58% higher than their peers! So it is no wonder why parents are asking for help getting their children moving.
Our current clients visit Specialty Athletic Training twice a week an hour workout. Is this enough to meet the recommended physical activity guidelines? Absolutely not. But we aim to make fitness enjoyable and provide guidance so that our clients feel empowered to exercise on their own, hopefully getting close to the weekly recommended activity levels. That being said, we try to ensure that many of the exercises that they do with us (or at least variations) can be done at home. Here are 6 exercises that are in a majority of our programs for our clients that are easily done in the gym or at home.
"I am such a huge fan of you people! I'm stronger and it's obvious.
Today, during our session, with Katie's excellent guidance, I was able to kick up the weight levels on several of the machines. It's clear that this makes sense because I'm stronger! Also, over the weekend, I had to be up in rainy Seattle, around the new Google and Amazon buildings. Those locations have very steep inclines and wet surfaces. There are few railings or grab bars around. Last year, I would have had great concern about falling, etc. This time, I still had to be careful but I had NO such concerns about falling.
Have a terrific week! Great things are happening."
When I first started Specialty Athletic Training, I envisioned creating an inclusive and supporting community that provided access to fitness to individuals with special needs. A place where differences didn't matter, rather they were celebrated, and exercise was the means of finding the common ground to support each other. We have created that community at each one of the locations that we train at, but we have started to witness it's affect on the greater Portland community as well.
Back in July, a player (Jake Gricius) from the Portland Winterhawks came across one of our social media channels and immediately wanted to get the team involved. After some phone calls and emails, we were able to schedule a time for some of the team to come to our Vancouver location, Stephen's Place, and watch our clients in action.
I'm going to hit the pause button for a second. For those of you reading that do not know who the Portland Winterhawks are, CLICK HERE.
Back to their visit. When given the opportunity and correct environment, exercise has a way of magically breaking down stereotypes and barriers. It happened during this visit and it was amazing to watch the evolution of the relationships being formed.
When the guys first arrived, they received a tour of the amazing facility at Stephen's Place. They interacted with the residents and signed autographs. This experience alone would have been a great experience for the young hockey players to increase their awareness of disability and acceptance of others. However, the next part of their visit left a lasting impression that they will remember for the rest of their lives. Although very kind, the players were a little reserved during their initial interactions. That all changed the moment we took them to the weight room.
As an athlete, you pour a lot of your soul into the weight room. It becomes your safe haven for self improvement and reinforce lasting relationships with your teammates as they workout beside you. You can walk into a gym and immediately feel at ease because it is a familiar environment. This was apparent immediately when the Winterhawks stepped foot into the fitness center.
We walked into the fitness center to show the team some of our clients in action and the rest is history. They immediately relaxed and began joining the adult group that they had come to watch. It was like someone had flipped a switch. They began to support our clients and exercise along with them, as well as giving them assistance and showering them with positive support. They knew exactly what to do when they walked into that room and it was amazing to witness.
Athletics and fitness continue to be the common ground that I'm able to use to destigmatize disability and create opportunity. After their visit, our clients and their families had the opportunity to shower the players with their own praise as they attended their match in the Moda Center. Cheering on not only our favorite hockey team, but our new favorite hockey players as well!
As feature in Spectrum Life Magazine Fall 2019
When I first started Specialty Athletic Training, I had no idea the struggle with weight that our youth are having. Sure, we have several clients that come to us wanting to work on their coordination, strength, and endurance. But most parents bring their children to work with us to help with weight management. There are several factors that typically play into the spike in weight gain (eating habits, trouble sleeping, new medications, etc) but there is almost a common underlying theme. Their child doesn’t enjoy being physically active.
Physical activity is essential to growth and development in children and adolescents. The global health recommendations state that this population should accumulate 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a day, however they are currently living a less active lifestyle than in the past. The level of inactivity has been coined by Dr. Steven Blair as “the biggest health problem of the 21st century”. Fewer children are walking or biking to school, there is less unstructured free play, and physical education classes are prime targets during budget cuts. So, what can we do to change this? Set the example and instill healthy habits in our youth.
The American adult population is currently setting a terrible example for our youth, so the numbers of their inactivity shouldn’t be a surprise. Our country is battling an obesity epidemic with nearly 40% of the adult population being considered obese which affects 13.7 million of American children. Physical activity is one of the best ways to combat obesity, yet according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 23% of American adults are currently meeting the recommended physical activity guideline of at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week.
We need to work on whole family lifestyle changes and place an increased focus on children’s activity level in order to reverse the upward trend of adult obesity. But what does that look like and how do we get our children active? I’m so glad that you asked!
First, exercise needs to be FUN. It shouldn’t be something that children dread, but rather something that they look forward to doing. Many of our clients have a negative association with exercise and have low self-confidence with their body’s ability. Fitness professionals need to keep this in mind as they create their fitness program for their youth clients.
Children that are overweight or obese will often shy away from traditional youth-based exercise routines because they are typically cardio focused, but they excel when being introduced to resistance training. They can see and feel their improvements over time, which increases their self-confidence and self-esteem. The correct exercises will also work on their fine and gross motor skill movements, which often attribute to their challenges of fitness related activities.
Humans (not just children) shy away from things that they are not good at. Failure is seen as negative rather than a positive. Parents need to encourage failure as it is the best learning tool.
Let me explain. Many parents will say to me that their child runs awkwardly. When asked how often their child runs, the common answer is, “They don’t because of their awkward running motion.” But how will they ever get better at something if they don’t practice? As parents we need to reinforce our children’s effort, rather than the outcome, especially when they are working on a new challenge. Practicing new skills in a safe and encouraging environment is the best way to fail, which means it’s the best way to learn.
Children are little sponges that replicate what they see and hear. We often find ourselves as parents asking, “Where did they hear that word?”, only to remember a time that we may have let it slip. Sound familiar? Actions are no different. We need to be better at living a healthier lifestyle ourselves and being the proper models for our children. Why should we expect our children not to want sweets when they see us indulging our sweet tooth? Why should we expect them to want to go play outside instead of watching TV, when they see us binge watching Netflix after work?
The best way to change our children’s habits is by changing your own. Include your children in your own fitness journey and show them how important exercise is to you. Are you going to be perfect? Nope. Will you have setbacks? Yep. And that is ok! Your children need to see that too and they way that you get back on track. Remember that they are always watching. Provide the positive health example that they need.
Published by The Mighty 9/11/2019
If your partner is having a rough day, what do you do to brighten it? You might swing by the store and grab some their favorite flowers for a thoughtful surprise. Maybe you decide to take them out on a date and help them clear their head of whatever has been bothering them that day. For me, I throw on an Amy Schumer movie or Netflix special and know that it will bring a smile to my wife's face.
Amy Schumer is my wife's favorite comedian and has an uncanny ability to make her laugh really hard. Like deep belly laugh, tears flowing hard. She also just so happened to be pregnant at the same time as my wife, Mary. Mary was having a rough pregnancy day (the ones where her hormones were racing AND the baby wouldn't stop trying to make more room in their crowded uterus suite) so we cuddled up on the couch and turned on "Growing", Amy Schumer's Netflix special. Little did I know that by watching it, I would find out that Mary wasn't the only one that had something in common with Amy and that I did as well. Our love for autism.
During the show, Amy opens up a little bit about her personal life. She talks about her pregnancy and being recently married. She also shines light on an unexpected topic, her love for autism.
"And once he was diagnosed, it dawned on me how funny it was because all of the characteristics that make it clear that he's on the spectrum are all of the reasons that I fell madly in love with him."
Schumer discusses how her husband is the "dream man". His lacks awareness of social norms, is apologetically blunt, and is unable to lie. These are all of the characteristics that led her to fall in love with him.
When I first started working in the field of autism back in 2007, the boy that I was working with shared many of these same characteristics. He was blunt, unable to lie, and often experienced the world differently than myself. He had not developed the social filter and was unaware of social norms. My experience working with him was life changing and inspired me to create Specialty Athletic Training in 2012.
Specialty Athletic Training was created to provide access to healthy living to individuals with special needs. I saw the need to serve this community and provide personal training services that were individualized to their needs. But it was also created selfishly for myself because of the joy it brought me working with them.
I loved the bluntness of Benjamin (the inspiration behind Specialty Athletic Training). If I had a tuna sandwich for lunch, you better believe he'd let me know that my breath smelled bad. If I was trying to break the silence during a long car ride, he'd reinforce the fact that he wanted silent time. He would say what was on his mind and I found how much easier it made communication.
But I also fell in love with his heart, which is what I have found to be the common denominator in all the children and adults that we have the opportunity to work with. They are the most genuine and caring people that you will have a chance to interact with. In a world that can be often filled with chaos and darkness, they are a positive light and teach me daily how to love life and what is really important.
Author B.J. Neblett said that, "We are the sum total of our experiences. (They) make us the person we are, at any given point in our lives. And, like a flowing river, those same experiences, and those yet to come, continue to influence and reshape the person we are, and the person we become. None of us are the same as we were yesterday, nor will be tomorrow."
Because of Benjamin and all of the other people that I have had the opportunity to work with since creating Specialty Athletic Training, I am a much better person from the sum of those experiences and am glad that they will continue to influence and reshape me for the years to come.
About the Author
Ryan Lockard, CSCS, CSPS is the founder and head trainer of Specialty Athletic Training and is accredited by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and a Certified Special Populations Specialist. He is a member of the board of directors for the Autism Society of America and the Central Oregon Disability Support Network.