As featured in Spectrum Life Magazine Fall 2020 Issue
Normal. What is normal? Whatever your definition of normal may be, your “normal” daily life shifted completely back in March when COVID-19 began to make its presence felt in our country. The fitness industry took a huge blow, as many did many other industries, when the shelter in place orders took effect. My business was no different, yet we will be a stronger business and able to serve more individuals because of how society has shifted during the pandemic.
As the virus began spreading rapidly on the east coast, I took notice on how businesses were being affected; in particular, small fitness studios. I also began paying attention to how the same businesses were affected in foreign countries and the future was appearing to be very grim for Specialty Athletic Training and other fitness companies. I was reminded of a quote from one of my favorite movies, Moneyball, “Adapt or die.”
In the movie “Moneyball”, Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane who was the General Manager for the Oakland Athletics during the late 90’s and early 2000’s. The Athletics did not have the budget to sign the talent required to compete for the pennant, at least not in the traditional sense. Beane had to think outside of the box and adapt if he wanted the organization to thrive. This required going against the traditional ways of baseball operations and adapting to the situation.
Over the past eight years, I have taken pride in partnering with facilities and creating an inclusive community to provide access to fitness for our clients. This community has allowed our clients to thrive in a supportive environment and has helped break down common misconceptions and stereotypes that society often associates with their diagnoses. In-person training was our traditional way of providing services to our clients, but that quickly became no longer an option.
The shelter in place order came quickly and swiftly shifted the way that we had to provide services to our clients, a population that is already susceptible to obesity, anxiety and depression. We pivoted to offering online virtual training sessions. We had to “adapt or die.”
We have had the ability to train in this capacity for several years, however clients loved the in-person connection and socialization aspect that came from our traditional services. However, they also had to adapt to the new way of living as the restrictions were placed on what services were considered essential. Virtual became the new norm for EVERYTHING and they still craved the interactions with their peers and trainers that they had come accustomed to at our facilities. Their longing for some type of normalcy and routine, along with our ability to pivot our business, we started offering our services virtually to all of our 100+ clients.
Location used to be a barrier to accessing our services, but with our new ability to train virtually it no longer is. We are now set up to train anyone, ANYWHERE. We have gained several clients outside of our traditional service areas and will continue to offer virtual services in the post-COVID future.
As our state attempted to return to the old normal and eased restrictions, it provided a way for us to adapt once again. With the aid of my Portland facility manager, Brad Carter, we converted my garage into a weight room and immediately began offering in-person services to local clients that were going stir crazy and craving some personal connection.
These circumstances have forced us as trainers to find new ways of communication, be creative with exercise selection, and forced us to do more with less; overall making us better trainers and develop skills that will carry over to the post-COVID era. We had the option to “Adapt or Die”. We chose to adapt and look forward to continuing adapting in order to break down barriers to fitness for the community that we serve.
Al (Alex) is a former Specialty Athletic Training intern and employee. He now is attending the Oregon State University College of Pharmacy and is helping create change for himself and his peers. Continue reading for the full article that was published on The Daily Barometer.
By Zoë Sandvigen
Students in Oregon State University’s College of Pharmacy are standing up for their peers who have allegedly been discriminated against within the college and university due to their race.
A recent meeting between students made headway for the small group who are fighting for equality within their school. Over 70 students attended and listened as pharmacy students of color shared story after story of the harmful experiences they have endured within the College of Pharmacy because of the color of their skin.
As a result, many more students, faculty and alumni stepped forward to share their own experiences. Al Jones, class president of the 2022 cohort and appointed diversity representative and ambassador, Daniela Olivas Shaw, College of Pharmacy student ambassador and Raven Waldron, also a College of Pharmacy Ambassador and appointed diversity representative, looked at the problem their community was facing and began curating the Project Achieve Diversity.
The plan’s intentions were written in a draft by the PAD team. The document stated to “create strategic planning documents, organize peer College of Pharmacy students, and provide support for those students who have been most affected by bias and prejudice within the college and university.”
This effort was also accompanied by Megan Alhadeff and Caitlin Morris, fellow College of Pharmacy students. Using the PAD foundation, members created an initiative detailing the goals and values of the group aimed to recruit peers who were interested in joining forces. A petition was also created and began circulating in order to gain enough traction to request a meeting with administration.
The student’s first request for a meeting addressing the death of George Floyd’s death was June 1. The first meeting took place on June 4 between students and the meeting with the Dean and representative from the International Diversity faculty member took place June 11.
Dean of the College of Pharmacy, Grace Kuo, and Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Charlene Alexander and Assistant Director for Outreach Brandi Douglas agreed to a Zoom meeting with over 100 graduate and professional students in the audience.
Alexander is one of the university’s diversity leaders and works alongside partners to implement institutionalized change as needed to advance diversity and equity.
“The importance of advancing inclusive excellence at Oregon State has never been more important during these challenging times. Diversity is important to innovation and creativity, and strengthens our society,” Alexander said by email. “Additionally, the demographics of Oregon are rapidly shifting towards more racial and ethnic diversity, and as a community we must demonstrate how we are for each other."
Alexander said she is fortunate to have a great team to work beside when questions of diversity are called to action. Alexander and her partners stay committed to their mission and work through issues in order to develop a plan to tackle problems that arise within the university, she said.
Accounts of the meeting as written by Jones, Shaw and Waldron stated, “Student leaders shared a list of demands, backed by research, that will help to improve the climate and environment in the College of Pharmacy. While Dr. Kuo and Dr. Alexander offered helpful resources already available to all OSU students, they also recognized the work being done by student leaders and the need for more intentional programs to be implemented by the administration to specifically support College of Pharmacy students.”
In the wake of this meeting, Alexander said all members of the OSU community need to be constantly mindful of all voices. She also said herself and her team’s decision making is always based on diversity, equity, inclusion and justice.
“I want to recognize our student leaders for their courageous work and efforts during this time,” Alexander said via email. “They continue to hold us accountable and ensure that we continue the momentum started through their engagement and participation in several town hall meetings.”
Since the meeting, members of the PAD have been assured that Dean Kuo is in meeting with faculty and staff within the College of Pharmacy addressing the demands and changes. Students hope these alterations will be implemented soon. At the time of publication, there are no updates from faculty addressing the PAD’s demands.
“We are confident that the college is committed to working with us to achieve the key needs we expressed in all the meetings and are already seeing improvements in transparency and speed of action in response to student concerns,” Jones, Shaw and Waldron said via email. “In the past week, the students involved have felt more seen, heard and valued than ever before in their entire time in the program.”
(As seen on www.seahawks.com on 6/8/20)
Good afternoon, 12s.
Here's a look at what's 'out there' for today – Monday, June 8 – about your Seattle Seahawks:
Bringing A Smile
Bringing some positive interaction with local athletes, Jacob Hollister and his twin brother, Cody, had a very special surprise for children across Portland and Central Oregon. They partnered with Specialty Athletic Training, a company that works to provide personal training services exclusively for clients with special needs. For those who may have previously had negative experiences with exercise, Specialty Athletic Training helps their clients exercise in a thoughtful and engaging way.
Hoping to turn these negative experiences into positive ones, the organization looks to set up their clients with professional athletes like Jacob and Cody Hollister.
As Oregon natives, the Hollister brothers understand the impact that one surprise call can make: "It just puts everything in perspective, where it's easy to get caught up being in this bubble and just being in the NFL and being used to it. You think back to when we were kids and just how excited we were just to be at an NFL game… That just puts it all in perspective… It makes the day, it makes the week.
(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 Spring 2020 Issue
It is no secret that exercise helps you live a longer and healthier life. Studies have shown that it can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses, reduce stress and anxiety, as well as provide a plethora of other positive physical, mental, and emotional benefits. But did you know that only 1 in 5 American adults currently meet the recommended 150 minutes of moderate activity per week? If the positive benefits of exercise are well known, then why is it that 80% of American adults do not take advantage of them?
Let’s take a look at some possible barriers that may get in the way and discuss solutions.
Whether or not you or your children identify as neurotypical or neurodiverse, once children enter your life, it is simply no longer about you. Gone are the days of knowing which bars have the best happy hours throughout the week or meeting your friends after work to plan your next epic vacation. Now your days are filled with shuffling schedules to make sure that each child gets to school, activities, and appointments on time, all the while making sure to provide meals, attention, love, and support.
For parents of children on the autism spectrum or with other special health care needs, there may be additional scheduling requirements happening in your daily life making you feel busier than ever before.
The part that can easily get forgotten is the importance of self-care. You need to take care of yourself and make sure that you’re getting the amount of “me” time to refuel so that you can continue to provide.
Lack of Time
Whether you are a parent or not, you likely identify as BUSY. Between going to and from school, work, appointments, activities and spending time online, when is there time for you to get your exercise in?
You have to MAKE time. If it is a priority, you will make time. The issue is that we often don’t see exercise as a priority because of everything else that we’re juggling in life, yet we know that exercise actually can help us deal better with the stress we are having.
So how do we make time? There are several ways to do this:
1 – Wake up earlier: This may not be the most popular option, but it is a way to make more time in your day and after you do it regularly for a few weeks, it will become routine. Get up before the kids get out of bed and go to the gym or go for a run. If you can’t leave your home, exercise there and create your own home gym environment.
2 – Take advantage of the appointment times: At Specialty Athletic Training, we provide athletic training and support for youth and adults with special health needs. Caregivers wait separately so during this time, we encourage them to go do their own workout. Not near a gym? Go for a walk and get some fresh air during those times. It will give you time for self-reflection and help clear your head from the chaos of life.
3 – Utilize lunchtime or breaks: Use your break time or lunchtime at work or school to get a quick 30-minute bout of exercise in. It is a great way to break up your day and reenergize.
4 – Put it on your schedule and prioritize you: It is important to remember that we all have 24 hours in a day. As cliché as that sounds, it is 100% true. If you make exercise a priority for yourself, you will find ways to make it happen.
Exercising by yourself can be daunting, especially if you’ve never really done it before or are trying to jump back in and create a new routine. It is important to find an exercise buddy to help encourage you, as well as hold you accountable. Here are some ways to go about finding that exercise buddy or fitness community in-person or online.
1 – Join a gym: Finding the right gym can make all the difference. The people and camaraderie can be one of the best support systems for your fitness journey and life in general. Test several out and find one that you can relate to and where you enjoy the vibe.
2 – Find a trainer: Maybe you just joined a gym, but now you don’t know what to do. Hiring a personal trainer can be the support system that you need, as well as provide the guidance that you’re searching for. With the explosion of the digital media era, trainers now offer online options as well. Again, find one that you gel with and that you enjoy being around.
3 – Go Digital: Gyms are too intimidating for many. The great thing is that the internet has several online communities that you can join that are super supportive and provide a similar community as joining a gym. One example is Peloton Digital. For under $15/month you get access to various types of classes (many that don’t require any equipment) that are taught by a variety of trainers. You can encourage others during the classes and also follow their fitness journey as well.
Energy and Motivation
The hardest part of exercising is getting started. The average American diet makes us very lethargic and feel like we don’t have very much energy. By investing in yourself and exercising, other healthy habits tend to follow. Increased water intake and healthier eating habits are just examples. These all play important roles in improving your energy levels, which in return will keep you motivated to keep putting in the work.
These are just some of the common barriers that adults face that make it hard to reach that recommended 150 minutes of moderate activity per week.
As always, I hope that you have found this information helpful. Please note that although this particular article slants more toward parents, the strategies within, particularly regarding prioritizing time for exercise and finding community can be adapted for autistic adults and youth.
Making exercise a priority is not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but I cannot stress the importance of it enough.
Are you looking at making a change and becoming the part of 20% American adults that meet the recommended exercise guidelines but need help? Please send me an email at Ryan@SpecialtyAthleticTraining.com or give me a call at (503) 863-0512 and I’d be more than willing to help guide you in the right direction.
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.
About the Author
Ryan Lockard, CSCS*D, CSPS*D is the Founder and CEO of Specialty Athletic Training. He is accredited by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and a Certified Special Populations Specialist. Lockard is a member of the board of directors for the Autism Society of America and the advisory board for the NSCA Oregon chapter.