Tag Archives: autism spectrum

Empowering youth on the Autism Spectrum with a personalized exercise program

By: Geoff Rubin, Fitness Propelled, CPT/CIFT/TRX II

I have always believed in #Contributing which states: “giving something, such as money or time in order to help achieve or provide something” – (Dictionary.com). Through exercise, I knew it would be my medium to create a special bond with young men and women on the Autism Spectrum. Having a broad career of working with youth and young adults on the Autism Spectrum as an adaptive P. E. teacher for years and as a fitness professional with specifically designed fitness programs, that have delivered resounding results, I knew this would be my avenue towards “Contributing”.

Why make a difference through exercise? Exercising is my passion and when you do what you love, you never feel as if it is work. Even better, if you can share your passions with those who otherwise would not normally engage in “exercise”, it becomes that much more meaningful. This led me to create the “Personal Power Program”. Information on this program can be found @ http://fitnesspropelled.com/personal-power-program/1281766 .

The benefits of exercise and positive effects that it has on everyone are numerous but we are just beginning to learn the effects exercise has on those on the Autism Spectrum. Below are just a few of the reasons why we must engage our youth and young adults on the Autism Spectrum into a fitness experience that works for them!

– Exercise reduces problem behaviors such as repetitive behaviors, off-task behavior, mouthing, self-injury, disruptiveness and aggression in those with autism.

– Exercise increases the release of several brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. These include endorphins and dopamine, which affect our brain’s functioning.

– Exercise can help the entire body, including the brain, function at its best.

– Exercise improves attention, concentration and organizational skills.

– After just 20 minutes of exercise children showed improved behavior, thinking skills and school performance.

By sharing, liking and connecting with Fitness Propelled, we can all #contribute towards a healthier and more meaningful tomorrow.

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– Daniel Coury, MD, medical director of Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network
– Google/images


Exercise and the Autism population (Idea Fitness Journal – 2013)

As a fitness company that provides exceptional Autism fitness programing, Fitness Propelled found this article to be a phenomenal resource for all.  The article highlights multiple points which we will address below, that provide the reader with insights on how we as Fitness professionals develop the best possible fitness options for young men and women on the Autism spectrum.

Stats: 1 in every 88 children is currently diagnosed somewhere on the Autism spectrum. (Autism Society -2013)

Challenges with Physical Fitness programs:

Many young adults on the Autism spectrum encounter gross motor difficulties such as low muscle tone/strength, poor stability, low endurance, compensatory movement patterning and poor gait (Staples & Reid – 2010)

How to best provide effective programing:

Fitness professionals must emphasize individualized and adapted exercise programs.

Strategies to accomplish this:

– Emphasize training strength and stability in pushing, pulling, squatting and rotation (Foundational movement skills).  Tie these emphasis points into daily life tasks such as, pulling open heavy doors, appropriately picking up toys, rotating and handing off an item from left to right.

Exercise you can put into action: Medicine ball push – throw w/ partner


1.  Push-throw with non weighted ball from 3-feet away.

2. Push-throw with non weighted ball from 5-feet away.

3. Push-throw with non weighted ball from 10 feet away.

4. Push-throw with 2 pound medicine ball from 3 feet way.

Address the mind as well as the body:

– Provide clear and concise directions.  Take multi-step directions and break them down into smaller multiple step sequences that will lead you to your desired end result.  

– Don’t negotiate, instead prove a clear and direct option a or option b.  Often you can reward clients for accomplished tasks, however, personally I side against it as it leads to a belief of need reward for accomplished actions. 


– Eric Chessen, MS, Autism Fitness, AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), Autism Society – 2013