Fitness Equipment Worth Buying
Fitness Equipment Worth Buying
Over nearly a decade of providing fitness programs for the autism and special needs populations, I have played around and tested a good abundance of different equipment. Since most of my practice focused on in-home sessions with clients, my fitness equipment had to be portable, safe, and have few, if any, moving parts. Fortunate for me and my clients, the most effective (both cost and from a physical standpoint) equipment is all portable, takes up relatively little space and is, for the most part, *safe.
*Safe can be an unfortunately relevant term.
I won’t launch into my typical 5,000-word tirade about how awful fitness machines are for most populations (particularly young populations with special needs). I will say that I have had many a conversation with an enthusiastic school administrator who tells me that they just purchased a brand new treadmill. When they inevitably ask me what to do with it, I usually tell them to sell it so they can use the PE room space more efficiently. The same goes for big, shiny new apparatuses that weigh nearly a ton and are for “arms, or abs, or legs.” These machines all came out of the 1970’s bodybuilding craze, and have left, in their wake, a great wave of misinformation about what fitness actually is and how to get there.
Objects vs. Objectives
Measuring by peering into shopping carts and living rooms around the country, it is clear we like stuff. And stuff can be cool. The problem, fitness-wise, is when we base exercise around a piece of equipment (or, usually something that more closely fits with the term “devise”) rather than considering the goals we have, or should have, for our athletes and students.
Objectives are the sun around which our fitness programs revolve. I want my athletes with special needs to bend, push, pull, rotate, and locomote safely and efficiently, with strength, stability, and coordination. The more varied situations they can perform these movements, the more fit they become. Not only do I want my athletes pushing, pulling, and bending, I want them doing it in different situations with different equipment, and I do not want them sitting down while they exercise.
The Good Stuff
If you’re like me, you’ve skipped the introduction and explanation stuff, promised yourself you would read it later, and come down here to check out the equipment that I actually recommend and use with my ASD and special needs clients. Each of these items wound up in this section because they can:
- Be used with nearly every individual
- Are non-specific and can be used for a wide variety of exercises
- Are safe and fun
- Are economical
Well, let the listing begin.
1) Spot markers
Have an 11-year old who has trouble attending? Have a 7-year old who is already doing single-leg lateral hops? Spot markers are the answer! If it weren’t for spot markers, I would be placing duct tape on every carpet and gym floor I work on. As exhibited above, spot markers come in an array of colors, shapes, sizes, and can even be employed for educational or communication targets as well. “Hop to the red star” or “Jump to a multiple of nine” are two ways in which we can mix plyometrics and academics (I am such a raving dork). Spot markers are great for activities that require attending, hopping, jumping, big steps, or specific distances. I usually browse the options on www.Flaghouse.com
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