As featured in Spectrum Life Magazine Winter 2020 Issue
Imagine that you walk into a room and are instantly paralyzed by the bright lights. While standing there motionless, erratic and unpredictable sounds are so loud that you can’t hear anyone speak, even though you see lips on the blurred faces moving everywhere as you observe the room. There is a weird aroma in the air, part Axe body spray, and part body odor. The aerosol from the body spray and other cleaning agents in the air quickly overwhelm you and make you feel that someone has a death grip around your throat. Welcome to the weight room.
Aside from feeling intimidated by all of the machines and not knowing what to do or where to start, the experience described above can also make visiting a fitness facility a nightmare for many. This is especially true for Specialty Athletic Training clients who experience sensory processing issues or who have been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Even with these challenges, exercise still needs to be a part of daily life for these individuals in order to decrease other comorbidities that may arise and live a prolonged and healthy life. Virtual training can be (and has been for many) a great alternative to visiting the gym.
People seek personal trainers for several reasons, but they usually are seeking guidance and accountability. Connecting with a trainer who provides a virtual training option can provide both benefits without the negative in-person gym experience.
At Specialty Athletic Training, our virtual training option has been our lifeline throughout the pandemic. With all of the regulations that have been placed on gyms over the past year, offering online training to the people we serve has allowed us to still be able to work with our clients in 1:1 and group settings. It has enabled us to keep our sense of community and our clients active. Both have played a crucial role in maintaining their mental health during such an anxiety-ridden time in our history.
It has also allowed others to have access to our services that they may not have received prior to COVID. Proximity to the locations we offer training has been a barrier to access in the past; however, virtual training has made it possible for us to work with clients worldwide and provide our services to our clients while they are on vacation.
Although virtual training can be a great alternative for many, some need and crave our in-person instruction. The word “struggle” doesn’t even begin to describe the experience that some of our clients have had with “distance learning” over the past year, let alone trying to receive workout instruction via a computer screen. We take pride in building relationships with our clients, which in turn leads to earning their trust. This can be difficult without the in-person experience.
Our approach is to make fitness fun and encourage self-esteem building and healthy lifestyle choices. We are passionate about the positive effects that exercise can have in the lives of our clients and their families!
We have worked with over 450 individuals with a wide range of disabilities and health care needs, including but not limited to Autism, ADHD, Cerebral Palsy, Diabetes, Down syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Williams syndrome.
Virtual training can provide the guidance and accountability that one may need to stay on track to reach their health goals without stepping foot in the typical gym setting. It has allowed us to remain a part of our clients’ lives, even though we haven’t been able to see many in-person since March 15, 2020.
We look forward to the day where individuals will have the option of accessing our services physically at one of our Oregon or Southwest Washington locations or virtually worldwide, whichever best suits their needs.
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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.