Most people have trouble getting motivated to go to the gym on a weekly basis, but it’s often more difficult for people with autism.
That’s why Mark Fleming decided to open Puzzle Piece Fitness, a gym in Florida that caters specifically to people with special needs.
Fleming understands that life is about overcoming hurdles. And like his clients, he is on the autism spectrum.
Fleming graduated from college with a master’s degree in exercise science and volunteered for the Special Olympics. During this time, he realized how many of the athletes had nowhere else to workout outside of Special Olympic training events.
“There was nothing for people with autism to stay active [after the Special Olympics ended]. And they would end up regressing. A lot of the time, people with disabilities stay at home a lot and become sedentary.”
He wanted to fill that void and started an in-home personal training service for people with autism and related disorders.
The puzzle piece has long been a symbol of autism, reflecting the uniqueness of each person on the spectrum.
“I have to cater to their individual needs… Just because I have autism doesn’t mean I know everything they are going through. I’m very open with them about that.”
“It’s just to try to provide individuals a way to stay active, no matter where they are in their life,” Fleming told CNN. “Just seeing individuals get healthy, it’s awesome – the healthier these individuals are, the more likely they are to live their best lives.”
Fleming is hoping his in-home personal training clients will come into his new gym, help spread the word and grow his business.
We applaud Flemming and hope to see more gyms catering to clients with special needs in the future!