Trainer bridges the gap between fitness world and developmentally disabled


Group fitness class

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There’s a big disconnect between the developmentally disabled population and the fitness world that personal trainer and disabilities support counselor Jared Ciner is trying to fix, one client at a time.

In April 2013, he developed a health-and-fitness program called the SPIRIT Club (short for Social Physical Interactive Respectful Inclusive Teamwork) to help people with special abilities and needs become more physically and socially active. After all, gyms are not the most accommodating of environments for those with a developmental disability, such as Down syndrome or autism. That’s unfortunate, because individuals with special needs are 58% more likely to be obese than the general population, as well as having an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation.

The National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) says that adults with disabilities, who are able to, should get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should spread throughout the week. They should also do moderate or high-intensity muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups two or more days per week.

The SPIRIT Club, located in Kensington, Maryland, fulfills this need for more physical and health education and training for people with special needs.