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Fitness Meets Special Needs At Dublin Gym

Jul 10, 2012


Wednesday in Dublin is the “favorite day of the week” for eight special-needs adults- and their exercise coaches. What began as an offer from one Dublin special-ed teacher to a local gym owner has gelled into a mutually beneficial – and heartwarming – arrangement at Fitness 2000.

Every Wednesday morning, special-ed students from Dublin's Transition program spend 30 minutes cleaning machines and equipment at the fitness club on Village Parkway. In exchange, they are treated to one hour of personalized training from Show Up Fitness exercise interns, all working toward personal-fitness certifications. “They love it,” said Bree LeMoine, educator for the Dublin Transition program. “It's the students' favorite day of the week.”

Transition, a Dublin Unified School District program, launched in August 2011, teaches special-education students, from 18 to 22 years old, such living skills as travel, financial responsibility, diet, exercise and employment. Transition's LeMoine was not looking for a freebie when she approached Fitness 2000 owner Pinky Patel seeking exercise resources for her class – hence, the trade offer to clean equipment. “We wanted to show (the students) that you need to work,” LeMoine said. “We did not want to do this for nothing.”
And to Patel for sealing the arrangement and weekly use of her center's facilities, LeMoine is grateful. “If we didn't have her, none of this would be happening,” she said.

The individual coaches are “trainers in training” from Dublin-based Show Up Fitness, all working toward certification with the National Personal Training Institute. Chris Hitchko, the owner of Show Up, an occasional Patch blogger and a certified trainer himself, said working with the special-needs class is a boon for his trainers-to-be. “It's a good teaching mechanism,” Hitchko said. “It teaches them you can work with any body type. It teaches patience.”

The trainers run Transition students through traditional circuits of weights, balance balls, bench presses and stationary bicycles to boost balance, coordination, flexibility and cardio fitness, he said. LeMoine said her students, whose disabilities include autism and physical and intellectual impairments, keenly anticipate Wednesdays at the gym – apparently a feeling that's mutual. As Hitchko said of his trainers-in-training: “It's their favorite day, too.”

Click HERE for the original article on patch by Susan C. Schena – Writer for

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