Florida became home to the first autism-certified water park earlier this year. Now, it’s also home to a gym catering to those on the autism spectrum. (Yasss, Florida!)
Mark Fleming, who started personal training out of his own home, saw the potential for his clients that were on the spectrum like himself. So two weeks ago, he opened Puzzle Piece Fitness in Tampa, Florida.
After graduating with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in exercise science from the University of Alabama, Fleming went on to volunteer at the Special Olympics. While there, he noticed that the fitness options for people with autism were extremely limited.
“There was nothing for people with autism to stay active [after the Special Olympics ended],” he told CNN. “And they would end up regressing. A lot of the time, people with disabilities stay at home a lot and become sedentary.”
Fleming said just because he also is on the autism spectrum, it doesn’t mean he knows exactly what his clientele desire.
“I have to cater to their individual needs…Just because I have autism doesn’t mean I know everything they are going through,” he said. “I’m very open with them about that.”
A gym that can help its members (yep, all of ’em) conquer life’s hurdles in a safe and sensory-friendly environment? We’re already feeling that workout high kick in.