Exercise for Special Needs Kids

exercise for special needs kids

Why It’s Crucial – What Works Best – Increasing Opportunities

All kids need exercise for emotional and physical health, and this holds especially true for special needs children. Lack of physical activity in our kids has contributed to the current nationwide childhood obesity epidemic in a major way, and special needs kids are even more at risk. Research tell us that an active lifestyle can have positive life-changing effects for special needs children.

Challenges Versus Benefits

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Trainer’s Tip #12: Use Apps To Hold Yourself Accountable



Trainer’s Tip #12:  Use a fitness app to help you hold yourself accountable.

Have you kept your New Year’s Resolution to finally get fit and healthy, or are you losing motivation?  If you’re slipping back into old habits, you’re not alone, but it’s not too late to turn it around!  Maybe you just haven’t found strategies that have work for you in adapting, then keeping, healthier habits.

I often recommend apps like myfitnesspal to clients.  Apps like this make it easier for people to keep their goals by a) allowing them to detect what foods/habits are sabotaging their weight-loss efforts, and finding healthier foods that are satisfying to them  b) allowing them to track their progress and accomplishments, which helps keep them motivated and holds them accountable c) allowing them to be part of a supportive online community of people, just like them.

Here are my experiences with myfitnesspal.  As a personal trainer, it taught me some invaluable tips: My Experience with myfitnesspal. Did it Work?

Good luck!





The Best (and Worst) Moves For Awesome Abs


Everyone pines for a six-pack.  People love to work their abs, and that’s good.  Your core is the foundation from where all your power originates.  Keep in mind that the core includes not only the abdominal muscles, but those of the back, glutes, spine, and hips (pelvic floor).  Keeping all of your core muscles strong also helps to prevent injury in athletes.

Before I continue, let me first say that you cannot spot reduce body fat on your waist, or anywhere else, for that matter.  You can strengthen your ab muscles with all of the exercises in the world, but without getting your heart-rate up through cardiovascular exercise, you won’t be able burn off the fat needed to see those strong abs you worked for.  So do your cardio!

People who want that flat tummy often gravitate toward crunches, because that’s the most well-known ab move.  However, research has shown that crunches are one of the worst ab moves in terms of how hard the obliques and rectus abdominus are worked.  The crunch only works a small part of the core, repeatedly bends the spine, and burns few calories.

The plank, a stabilizing move, works your whole core, as well as the transverse abdominus and your upper body.  It’s one of the best ab moves you can do.  What’s more, the possibilities with plank variations are endless!  Let’s first start with how to do a simple plank, because form is key:

With your forearms and toes on the floor:


  • Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
  • Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds to start.
  • Over time work up to 30, 45 or 60 seconds.  Don’t forget to breathe!

You can also do a plank with your arms fully extended, which works more of the upper body:



If you are a planking pro and can hold the pose for more than a couple of minutes, the simple plank is really no longer very effective for you.  It’s time to ramp it up a little!  Aside from the regular push-up, which is a great move, try one of these other variations below.  Happy planking!



Plank Reach

plank reach





Reach & Raise

plank reach and raise


Lateral Walking Plank



  • Simultaneously cross your right hand toward the left as you step your left foot out to the left. Then simultaneously step your left hand and right foot to the left, returning to the plank position. Your hands move together as your feet step apart. Take two more steps in this direction, keeping your abs pulled toward your spine and your pelvis level. This completes one rep.
  • Reverse directions, taking three steps the right.


Plank Up-Downs

plank up downs


Plank on Bosu Ball



Side Plank

side plank


Plank Rows

plank rows

Sliding Plank



Plank Walk-Out

 plank walkout


Oblique Crunch Plank


Bonus: Jack Knife on Stability Ball








Trainer’s Tip #9: Use Short, Effective Workouts Through the Holidays


Trainer’s Tip #9: The holidays…so much to do, so little time.  However, if you have 10 to 20 minutes you can still fit a good workout in–But don’t do just any workout.  Do interval training and compound moves for the best results.

Remember: Every minute adds up.  A 20 minute workout, if done correctly, will help you maintain through the holiday hustle and bustle.  Don’t even have 20 minutes?  Break it into two 10 minute workouts.

Here are two examples of effective, but quick, workouts:

6 Moves, One Full-Body, Fat-Torching Workout

20 Minute Get-You-Through-The Holidays Workout

Bonus:  Most of these moves are travel-friendly!

Trainer’s Tip #8: Take a Daily Dose of Gratitude.


Trainer’s Tip #8:  Count your blessings instead of your hardships.

Not just tomorrow when you carve the turkey, but every day.  Too simplistic, you say?  Studies show that doing so will improve your level of happiness and your health.  They show that people who keep a gratitude journal exercise more regularly, take better care of themselves and are more optimistic about life.  Gratitude is a stress-buster and helps the immune system.

When your eyes open in the morning, or before they close at night, write down something you’re grateful for.  Or just think it in your head.  What do you take for granted?  What do you love about yourself?  Create positive mantras, and repeat them in your head while you work out.  “I’m strong.  I’m empowered.”

Try it.  You may be grateful you did.


Trainer’s Tip #7: Try the Assisted Pull-Up

assisted pull up

Trainer’s Tip of the Day #7:  Try the Assisted Pull-Up

If you like machines, but are pressed for time, don’t think you have to fit in every single one to get a full-body workout.  Focus on the machines that target large muscle groups of the upper and lower body.  These machines work the most muscles at once, giving you the most bang for your buck.  The assisted pull-up is of my favorite gym machines because it does just that.

This machine allows people who can’t lift their body weight (ie, most people) to recieve the benefits of the pull-up, which actively engages roughly 20 muscles.  Stabilizing muscles, such as those in your core, are also engaged.  I like to do a wide-grip pull-up on this machine, but you can also reverse your grip, with your palms facing toward you.