Fitness Equipment Worth Buying
It was a beautiful moment when I found that these things existed. Sandbells are the result of the innovative minds at Hyperwear in Austin, Texas. Sandbells are neoprene (the stuff they use to make wetsuits) disks that can be filled with sand and can be used as dumbbells, medicine balls, or any combination in-between. Because of the behavior issues inherent to the ASD population, a hard, heavy dumbbell may not always be the safest choice. I have, personally, had Sandbells dropped on my feet (accidentally and otherwise, and twice just this week) without suffering any ill effects.
The Sandbells range from 2 lbs., up to the big-boy sized 200 lb. Steelbell (capable of holding 200 lbs. of steel beads or “shot”). I’ve had clients with Cerebral Palsy using Sandbells, and there are pro-athletes training with them as well. How’s that for versatility?
You also have the option of buying them unfilled, which saves tremendously on shipping costs. A 50 lb. bag of play sand goes for around $3.50 at the local home repair store. I recommend getting a couple different sizes, usually between 4 and 10 lbs. for most young individuals.
3) Ropes gone Wild
Similar to the Sandbell, the ropes can be used by any individual of any skill level. All of my athletes love swinging the ropes in an array of combinations (double swings, alternating, “rainbow” swings, circles, etc.) and I usually join in the fun. The ropes, by the way, are by far superior to any “cardio machine” at a fraction of the cost and space. For those still insistent on their children or students “needing cardio,” this is your answer; as opposed to the excitement of running to nowhere or biking in the same corner of the room for 15 minutes.
The Dynamax medicine balls are perfect for throwing, catching, slamming, and for use as a cue for learning to squat correctly. They are soft and do not bounce, so they can be thrown against a variety of surfaces without odd bounce-backs. Their size makes them perfect for learning to catch, and they are very, very durable. They also come in a variety of colors, and have caught the attention of many of my athletes where a dull, old ball simply would not have. You can find them on the relatively antiquated www.medicineballs.com
Fitness programs should always be designed around the abilities and goals of the individual. Rather than resorting to a “this looks cool” or “The ad says this is how to use it” approach, using equipment that is suitable to a range of activities and skills will always be more cost effective, productive, and fun. Successful fitness programs are a blend of intelligent physical goals, motivation, and fun. Innovation is often an important factor. Equipment is just equipment until you turn it into a bridge to achievement. And some bridges are built better than others.
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This post originally appeared on our November/December 2010 Magazine
Eric Chessen, M.S., is the Founder of Autism Fitness. An exercise physiologist with an extensive ABA background, Eric consults with families, educators, and fitness professionals around the world. Eric works with his athletes in the NY metro area and is the author of several E-books. Visit AutismFitness.com for more information.