Featured in Spring 2019 edition of Spectrum Life Magazine
Specialty Athletic Training is a personal training company that specializes in fitness for special populations. Founded in 2012, founder Ryan Lockard aimed to create a program that provided access to healthy living to a community that the fitness industry often overlooks. With a client-centered approach and focus on making fitness fun, Specialty Athletic Training has grown to 5 locations and has served over 350 individuals of various ages and diagnoses throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington.
Many of our clients have had a negative experience with fitness in the past. They also are usually the busiest people that we know (outside of their parents) with super tight schedules filled with therapies and doctors’ appointments. Rarely do they have control of their schedule and are constantly being critiqued and told what their weaknesses are and what they need to improve on.
We take a different approach at Specialty Athletic Training by meeting our clients where they are and allow them to provide input on their workout routine, giving them ownership of their program. We strive to make their sessions fun and provide a positive fitness experience, so that they can’t wait to come back for their next workout. Filling them with self-confidence and self-esteem unlocks their intrinsic motivation, which is the most powerful thing of all!
Parents have come to us in the past wanting us to work with their child on their running form for various reasons; their posture might not be ideal, their gait might be a little awkward, or they don’t use their arms. This leads me to ask the question, “How often do they run?” which often leads to the answer, “They don’t because they run funny.”
They are not encouraged to run because they don’t have the typical running form that their peers may have. If this sounds like your child, the biggest thing that they need is your encouragement and for you to provide opportunities for them to have extra practice with that movement in a natural setting.
If your child is having difficulty running, take them on a run. Don’t focus on their awkward form, but rather reinforce that they are being active and how much joy it brings you to be running with them. This will be the beginning of turning it into an activity that they enjoy, rather than dread. Once you can get them in a positive mindset about running, then you can start making small suggestions to their form to enable them to run more efficiently.
The body simply needs practice moving to move properly. Many of those same kids that have an awkward gait or have trouble running, typically don’t have a physical outlet and are sedentary. They could benefit from basic exercises that you can do at home. These movements not only work on movement patterns and build strength but will also become more fluid over time. Here are 5 exercises that you can do with your child at home.
Access is the biggest barrier that the community that we serve encounters, and quality fitness instruction is no exception. My journey in this field began in 2007 when I had the opportunity to work with an autistic thirteen-year-old boy named Ben. Although very capable, expectations for Ben were set far lower than his peers due to his disability. This was drastically apparent in his physical education experience. While he was included in activities, the projected standard of performance was drastically reduced due to behaviors that he exhibited during physical exertion. I realized that these behaviors were derived from his sensory experience during exercise and him being unaware of the body’s natural response to working out. After becoming aware and educated about this response, the behaviors decreased and expectations were raised.
It is common knowledge the obesity is on the rise in the United States, but what isn’t discussed is the increased risk of obesity for children (38%) and adults (58%) with a disability compared to their peers. Seeing an opportunity to provide high-impact services to this community, doing something I am passionate about, Specialty Athletic training was born in 2012. It was founded with the intent of providing quality fitness instruction to allow these individuals to thrive. By creating a fun and inclusive environment, my company has provided direct services to over 350 individuals of various ages and diagnoses and has expanded to several locations in the Pacific Northwest.
It has become my mission to drive awareness of the true abilities of the disabled community, destroy common stereotypes, and break down barriers to access. Fitness has been my avenue in doing so and it all started because of a boy named Ben.
We often get asked to design workout programs for parents to do with their children at home. Here are the top 5 exercises that you can be doing with your child of any ability!
Matt is a long time client of Specialty Athletic Training and wanted to share why he thinks it is so amazing!
Guest post from trainer Bradley Carter, CSCS
Should children with autism workout? Short answer is yes. All children should workout and be active starting at a young age. Children with autism have a much increased chance of becoming overweight or obese compared to their neuro-typical peers starting as early as two years old. In the United Stated over a third of children from the age of 2-17 on the autism spectrum are overweight. There are a variety of reasons for this, but one thing is certain, exercise will help and the earlier you start your child down a path of exercise and healthy living the more it will help them live long healthy lives.
Exercise doesn’t just help with physical health; mental health can be drastically improved through an exercise regime as well. Children with autism can benefit by having a reduction in self-stimulatory behavior, hyperactivity, and aggression as well self-injurious and destructive behaviors. The autism specific benefits of general exercise has been shown to be one of the best treatments for depression and anxiety, along with improved sleep quality.
A workout doesn’t have to be fancy or even very long; a brisk thirty-minute walk is a great place to start. Need some other ideas? Make sure to visit our YouTube channel for exercise demonstration videos. You may even see yours truly in some of them!
Frozen dinners and take out can often be an easy meal solution for families that are always on the go. Although convenient, this method can often be pretty expensive and overall unhealthy. Meal prepping is an easy solution to save you time and money, as well as make sure that you're eating healthy.
Here are 5 meal prep tips from our trainer JaCee Camper to help you get started:
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, Central Oregon Disability Support Network, as well as the Lewis & Clark College Board of Alumni.