December News

October and November were very busy months for FITBuddies and as the program continues to grow, once again I have to say THANKS for all your help and support.  Almost all of our growth has come from you:  it has been from trainers telling their clients more about the program, parents of our current FITBuddies’ participants talking to other parents, and random encounters/emails from friends of friends of friends.  So thank you and keep on talking!  For now, here are a few updates:

FITBuddies @ FIT:  We have a few new participants looking to start in January.  The younger group (ages 8-11) will be starting 2 full hour sessions in January as well.  I can’t thank my volunteers enough as they have been an integral part of making the younger group work.  Each kid really needs 1/1 attention in order for things to run smoothly and everyone to stay safe

Parent’s Meeting:  December 15th @ 7pm at FIT in Los Altos.  FITBuddies is partnering with the College of Adaptive Arts and hosting a meeting for parents of individuals with intellectual disabilities.  The purpose of the meeting is for parents to voice different programs they would like to see available for their kids/young adults.  Please email for more information.

New School Program! I have started working at the Creative Learning Center in Los Altos providing small group sessions during school hours to both preschool and elementary age students.  The school runs a very unique program for kids on the autism spectrum and is a great facility with a very dedicated staff.  I am looking forward to working with both the staff and the kids and already have lots of new special friends.

FITBuddies in SF: Diakadi Body , located at 9th and Division in San Francisco has agreed to support the FITBuddies program for teens/young adults in the afternoons on Wednesday and Fridays.  The goal is to have our first group start in January.  Email for more information.

IHRSA 2011: I will be presenting at IHRSA 2011 on March 16th.  Thom and I have already started preparing, meeting with doctors and other professionals in the field and sorting through research relevant to training individuals with special needs.  This has led to many great connections and has also expanded my goals moving forward.  Most importantly, I am excited that IHRSA accepted a topic new to the majority of trainers and gym owners.

December Topic:  Last month, I talked about the “Good, Bad & the Ugly” of FITBuddies and why I really am thankful for each aspect of FITBuddies.  The “good” keeps me smiling, laughing and absolutely loving what I do and the “Bad” & “Ugly” challenge me and help me continue to learn and grow.  For the month of December I will talk about traditions.  Although I am a sucker for family and holiday traditions and could rattle off a TON of my favorite traditions that I look forward to every year, I am going to talk about our weekly traditions at FITBuddies.  Repetition is very important to individuals with special needs and therefore it is very important to set up certain aspects of the program that never change and are passed down and carried on by every new participant, every session, every year…

Story #9

Enough of the Bad.  Today we’re back to the Good.  The REALLY Good!

Story #9

Happy Birthday Mahayla!!

Mahayla turned 20 on Monday and it’s time to celebrate.  After almost a year at FIT, it’s time to celebrate all she has accomplished, the changes we’ve made and most importantly her mom.  Good doesn’t even begin to describe her mom…incredible, amazing, an inspiration is just a start…

24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  For a parent with a child with special needs, this is your “work” day, week, year.  I dislike writing about my “bad” days like yesterday when I think about the fact that I’m with these kids for 1-2 hours a week. But I’m telling the Bad and Ugly this month because, as many of you know, it’s real and for the parent it’s full time reality.  While any parent or professional that works with these kids will tell you that all the rewarding, good moments outweigh the bad, we can’t disregard the “bad.”  We can’t disregard the “bad” because this is what the majority of society needs to become more educated on and more aware of.  What will help Mahayla’s mom and other parents with special needs is having more opportunities and resources like FIT where they can take their child, implement GOOD (incredible) parenting in a mainstream social setting, not be judged or asked to leave during the Bad moments, and be accepted as their child makes the transition in an unknown place.  With that being said, we also have to celebrate the welcoming and accepting staff at FIT for being patient the last eight months as Mahayla transitioned into the group.

Patient:  Patient doesn’t even begin to describe Mahayla’s mom.  It doesn’t matter how loud Mahayla screams, how fast she darts off, or whether refuses to do any activities for the day.  I have never seen her raise her voice.  Yes, you can tell she gets frustrated at points, but she holds it together and does her best to calmly redirect, motivate, communicate, etc with her daughter.

While many people may judge silent parenting skills in public as it looks, from the outside, as if they are not doing anything, this is GREAT parenting of a child with special needs.  It is always best to use a minimal amount of words and redirect in silence.

Determined:  Mom told me on day 1, that Mahayla is extra special.  She said runs her own show and that we’d just have to take everything one day at time.  Our first goal was to get Mahayla to stay for the whole hour and the second was to participate/be active the whole hour.  Mom is/was beyond determined to make this work.  She drives from Redwood city and in the beginning would sometimes pull up at FIT just to walk in and tell me “it’s just not going to happen today.  She’s not going to get out of the car” or maybe she would come in for 10-15 minutes and then she’d be in the shower, ready to go home.  Mom and I kept checking in and trying to increase her time in the gym but there were plenty of opportunities where Mom could have given up.  Mahayla’s mom was determined and after 8 months, Mahayla now stays for the full hour!

It takes determination to raise a child with special needs.  You have to keep going and keep pushing when the odds are against you and most people would stop or say no.

Dedicated. Mahayla’s Mom is 100% dedicated to her daughter.  She is dedicated to her overall well-being and is committed to providing her with every opportunity she can.  She is dedicated to properly dealing with every trait and symptom that comes with Autism, Epilespy, and Tourettes.  When Mahayla screams at the top of her lungs, her Mom does not look around the gym to see who is staring or reacting to her but instead stays focused on Mahayla and calmly quiets her.  Sometimes Mahayla gets hooked on one piece of equipment, while Mom encourages her to move on, she will sit by her side for the full hour if thats the way it’s going to be for that day (and we always say at least she’s moving)!  Mahayla’s Mom drives 20 minutes to bring her to FIT, she stays by her side for the entire hour, every session, two times per week…now that is dedication!

There are some parents who are dedicated to finding the best services and professionals to work with their child.  And there are some parents who are dedicated to working with professionals to provide the best service possible for their child.

Easy-going/Flexible:  Some days are good, some days are bad.  Sometimes Mahayla participates, sometimes she doesn’t. One day she does everything listed on her board, the next day she won’t go near it.  While Mahayla does do well with following a schedule, you can’t be rigid in your expectations and have to be willing and able to adjust on the fly and make modifications.  Mahayla’s Mom takes what ever comes her way and works with it.

Whether you are a flexible person or not, I think this trait in engrained in you pretty quickly.  You have no choice but to be flexible and roll with the punches.

Humor and a Smile. While many situations are taken very seriously, Mahayla’s Mom has a great way of laughing at the good, bad and the ugly. I always have to laugh when Mahayla comes over to give me her fist pump hand shake.  It’s her signature move.  Sometimes Mahayla will get stuck on a song and all she’ll want to do is sing, dance and wave her arms.  Mom and I will usually support this in some way (I usually sing along with her:).  At points, when Mom feels like she’s tried everythings, she’ll just laugh and say “we’re doing our best.”  Mahayla’s Mom is always supportive of the other buddies and always laughing and joining in on their fun.  She has a smile from ear to ear whenever Mahayla is participating.  Lately that smile has been around a lot.

At the end of the day, if you can’t laugh at some of the good, bad and ugly moments then you are going to find yourself having a lot more unnecessary bad moments.

I can’t say enough good things about Mahayla’s Mom.  In my mind, she is the definition of a good parent with special needs. The incredible progress Mahayla has made is due mostly to her mom’s patience, determination, dedication, flexibility and humor.  Eight month ago, we were excited if Mahayla got out of the car and came inside.  Last week, Mahayla wanted to keep working out even after class was over.

I am extremely thankful to get the opportunity to work with such great parents, especially Mahayla’s Mom.  I am constantly inspired and motivated to keep doing more for these kids/adults after being around her (and all my FITBuddies’ parents).  I am also very thankful to the staff and clients who have been nothing but supportive of Mahayla and gave her and her Mom a chance to be part of something much bigger a gym and a workout.