Welcome to the Adaptive Fitness Exercise Programming
This book is intended to be used by anyone who works with special populations – or wants to work with special populations – and doesn’t know where to begin. It will provide strategies for special populations, in particular individuals affected by Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, and non-ambulatory individuals whose mobility is limited to a wheelchair. This book is designed to be accompanied by the Course Description and videos that are included there.
I’m Anna Woods. As owner of sheSTRENGTH training, I have based my entire career on helping other people find their value and worth through fitness and nutrition.
I coach people in strength training/neuromuscular stability and fitness and metabolic/holistic nutrition in my barn gym office in rural Kansas. I also coach my sheSTRENGTH Squad (clients) online via my app and our private community. While this may sound traditional, my business is unique in that my client base includes individuals whose lives are a daily struggle due to navigating the world through emotional, physical, and social differences. Others are parents or caregivers who spend a disproportionate amount of time helping others and giving away every drop of energy they have.
I have been working with special needs populations since 2008, and as a mom of three children – two with special needs – I understand how tough it can be. But no matter where a person’s challenges lie, when they show up at sheSTRENGTH, our focus is on crossing personal “finish lines” and moving into the mindset that they are enough, instead of allowing a scale number to dictate their worth and progress. We help them set a boundary around their health, make themselves a priority again, and surround them with a supportive online community. Then we begin chipping away at personal fitness and nutrition goals.
My qualifications have given me the skills to develop pieces of training programs for these special populations, but to meet the needs of this broad client base, I developed my own fitness tools and created programming for adults with special needs. My work is also featured in articles in CrossFit Journal and Breaking Muscle, and I have hosted webinars on training for special populations. The overwhelming response to any information I have shared regarding these populations has always been “Where can I learn more?”
Well, you’re in the right place.
Working with Special Populations
I met Amy in 2008. Amy had Down syndrome and her family was concerned that her obesity was going to lead to an early death, and they had tried desperately to motivate her to lose weight. Amy and I began to meet two times a week to get her on track with her eating and exercise. Slowly, week by week and pound by pound, weight began to fall off, and the first year she lost almost 85 lbs.
While it was meaningful to support her in her physical health, what I most loved about working with Amy was the endearing, personal relationship we had. She shared her desires, hopes, and dreams with me, and we became dear friends.
Amy quickly introduced me to her other friends, and it wasn’t long before I was providing exercise sessions for many of Amy’s friends – those in wheelchairs, those with Autism, Down syndrome, genetic disorders, and much more, in addition to my work with other individuals at Disability Supports of the Great Plains, LLC. They became some of my best friends, and eventually my second family. I no longer saw their disabilities. I looked at them and saw their capabilities, their motivation, and their joy. They changed my life far more than I could ever change theirs. In fact, my work with special needs populations – and Amy in particular – is the single biggest reason we decided to bring Blake into our family.
Living with Special Populations – Meet Blake
If someone had told me when I started working with Amy that she would inspire my husband and me to adopt a precious, blond-haired, brown-eyed boy with Down syndrome from another country, I would have said they were crazy. But here we are.
In 2011, we adopted Blake, knowing he would need life-long care and assistance. After we committed to adopting Blake through Reece’s Rainbow, I wrote in my journal:
“As I’ve been reflecting on how we reached this point in our lives, I now see the plan God has slowly been revealing to us over time. He has gently introduced people, experiences, struggles, and joys bit-by-bit to soften our hearts and prepare us for Blake.”
You can read more here on social media using the hashtag #blakesstory.
Why We’re Here
Amy is, hands-down, the reason we are here, but so are you. As I have shared about my work over the years, it became increasingly clear to me that there are many of you who also want to do this work, but you didn’t know where to start.
I am sharing this work with you in memory of Amy, who passed away in 2019. It is my hope that other trainers – you – will find a way to support special populations in your training, and that your clients will have the same positive and life-changing impact on you as Amy had on me and my family.
Let’s get do this!
It is important to understand how to use this book. The accompanying Course Description will provide additional videos that are an integral part of understanding how to work with special populations. I have tried to be cognizant of different learning styles, but information from the videos is not repeated in this text. Instead, you can review the transcript of the videos as you view them.
This book is meant to be a place for you to start. It will provide you with a solid base from which to develop your own programs for your clients. As always, clients will be different. The key thing to keep in mind is that you are going to have to be flexible.
There are eight modules, seven with accompanying videos to demonstrate “live” what is being discussed in the written form, and one that is all videos. These videos have been recorded over the past 10 years as I have worked with my clients. As a result, some of the videos are less clear than others. Please look past this and focus on how I cue, how the client responds, the various exercises we use, and the differing approaches to the different diagnoses, etc. I introduce each video series with an explanation of what I want you to learn from the demonstrations.
To help you get started, I have also provided printable sample charts and graphs throughout this booklet. Keep in mind that you and your clients will have different education, experience, facilities, and timeframes, etc., so take what you can from this training and apply it, and the rest will come with time and intuition. You will do great!
I know I have enrolled in a program of strenuous physical activity including but not limited to aerobic dance, weight training, stationary bicycling, and the use of various strength equipment. I hereby affirm that I am in good physical condition and do not suffer from any disability that would prevent or limit my participation in this exercise program.
In consideration of my participation in Anna Woods Fitness LLC exercise program, I, for myself, my heirs and assigns, hereby release Anna Woods Fitness LLC (its employees and owners) from any claims, demands, and causes of action arising from my participation in the exercise program.
I fully understand that I may injure myself as a result of my participation in this exercise program, and I hereby release Anna Woods LLC from any liability now or in the future, including, but not limited to heart attacks, muscle strains, pulls or tears, broken bones, shin splints, heat prostration, knee/lower back/foot injuries and other illness, soreness, or injury, however caused, occurring during or after my participation in this exercise program.
Anna Woods Fitness LLC has recommended that I consult a physician before I engage in any physical exercise program. I acknowledge that I have done so or that I have chosen not to consult a physician but will begin the exercise program on my own accord.
Please download the eBook above before we begin.
Download the ebook above.