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Fitness For Kids Of Different Abilities

Fitness For Kids Of Different Abilities

All children can benefit from the exercise, including children with special needs.

Local fitness programs highlight the benefit of exercise for all

A little physical activity goes a long way. It’s no secret your children will sleep better after jumping on a trampoline or taking time out to dance. It’s also no secret how much fun they’ll have while doing it. Making time for movement is important for a child’s overall health and sense of well-being. That’s why there are programs out there devoted to helping each and every child, despite their level of ability, stay active in fun and fantastic ways.

We sought out tips from a few local fitness programs to help you keep your children moving. Each facility has COVID restrictions in place, and those vary from virtual sessions to one-on-one sessions (with face coverings) and outdoor activities.

Embracing the full spectrum

Helping children with learning and physical differences to experience the benefits fitness offers is what drove Dina Kimmel to found We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym For All Kids. As the mother of an autistic son, Kimmel saw the immense benefits that consistent movement afforded her child. She witnessed her son, after six months of regular activity, sleeping and eating better than he had previously. “We need to make sure our kids get movement not only for their physical health but for their mental health,” she says. 

We Rock The Spectrum uses many different techniques to get your child’s body moving. “We assess each kiddo, so no two kids in any of our facilities have the same fitness plans,” Kimmel says. Their specialized equipment includes trampolines, various swings and even a zip line.

Kimmel says for those children who thrive with less instruction and more movement, it’s all about the dancing. “It’s really fun. We call it ‘fun fitness!’” she says.

We Rock the Spectrum has been open 10 years and has locations throughout Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.

Regarding health precautions, Kimmel says the staff is diligent about face masks, face shields and gloves, and inform clients of their sanitizing processes and temperature taking.  “We’ve been doing classes online,” she says. “We’re open one family at a time and now we’re open for private facility rentals. And we’ve also been able to be open for the special needs community and doing low-capacity open play.”

In Leaps-in-Boundz

The programs at Leaps-N-Boundz are sensory based.
PHOTO COURTESY LEAPS-N-BOUNDZ

Making enjoyment abound at Leaps-n-Boundz  in Los Angeles is one way co-owner Eric Amundson is keeping “fitness fun and motivating.” Amundson says he and his business partner started hosting workout sessions at a park in 2007, “and the business grew from there.”

The programs at Leaps-n-Boundz are sensory-based, which means that all of their curricula contain a movement component. Amundson says this is important for many of his clients who need daily sensory input to help them with regulation.

All of the participants have different sensory needs and different movement goals. To meet these needs, Leaps-n-Boundz offers many methods of movement, some of which include gymnastics, sports and aquatic activities. “When you don’t move your body, it’s harder to stay alert and focused,” Amundson says.

“Right now, we do one-on-one sessions outdoors in the yard or in the park where we’re able to maintain social distance,” Amundson says of the gym’s safety measures. “We’re masked and we also offer a Zoom option.” The pool is now open to limited capacity. 

The body loves to move

While exercise is something many people bemoan, our bodies actually love it, says Dr. Teri Todd, Ph.D., associate professor and director of clinical operations for the Center of Achievement at California State University, Northridge. “The physiology of the body loves to be active. Then, we have the mental and physical health benefits coming from that.”

The Center of Achievement through Adapted Physical Activity at California State University Northridge has been providing internationally recognized adapted fitness programs for people with disabilities since 1971. The Center serves special needs children as young as age three and creates a positive environment for the entire family. “One of the rewarding aspects is seeing the parents supporting each other. That’s another component of the program,” says Tanya Bennett-Payne, clinic manager of operations.

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