4 Tips for Training Special Populations

Wendy Palmieri is a Vintage Fitness personal trainer here in Toronto.  She has been working with a client with Down Syndrome for the last couple of years with great success.  The clients mother wrote a glowing review of Wendy’s work with her son so I asked Wendy to write this weeks blog.

For the past 10 years I have been a personal trainer working with Older Adults (40+) and special populations.  About 2 years ago I was asked to meet  a mother seeking  a personal trainer for her 16-year-old son with Downs Syndrome.  This young man is one of the most charming young men I know.  He had already discovered that  feeling of sustained daily strength and energy that comes from regular exercise prior to working with me. This made my job easier!  I had never worked with anyone with DS before, but was excited to help him build up his skills and technique in his home gym. 

Immediately, I began my research on Downs Syndrome, and have continued to learn whatever I can about the disorder. As with all of my clients, continued education and understanding on what each is experiencing can only better assist me in assisting them. This research helped me to build the best possible program for this young man.  To supplement his existing equipment (treadmill and stability ball), I brought in some dumbbells, a mat, and a bosu to work on strength and balance.

It has been challenging at times but ultimately more rewarding than I ever could have imagined.

Here are some key ingredients to our success together:

  1. Build trust.  This helps build communication skills necessary for a good working relationship.
  2. Find out what he likes.  Music, dancing and basketball.  So I incorporate all of these into the workout. 
  3. Make it fun. Use a sense of play, challenges and games.
  4. Have patience and listen.  It helps to find out what is going on in this young mans world.  This  helps me motivate him to have a successful workout.

As with any program,it is developed specific  to a client’s character and fitness level.  No two programs are ever the same, and the more you listen, the more you can help that person improve and grow.

Good Luck!

Erin Billowits

Vintage Fitness is an in home personal training company in Toronto, Canada.  We specialize in energizing the lives of people over 50 with exercise.

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