Autism Friendly Gym To Open In Sioux Falls

Doors will open in January 2017

It’s known that exercise improves peoples sleeping behavior and helps people maintain a healthy body weight.

But for those with special needs, one expert says the benefits of working out are even greater.

Sharon Bethke, a physical therapist, says those with autism or similar development disorders will be able to regulate their mood and calm down more when they work out.

Bethke first noticed this when she started working out with her autistic son.

The behavioral improvements were so high that she decided to open up an autism friendly gym with her husband right here in Sioux Falls.

It’s called Special Strengths Fitness, and they’ll start off with offering 1 on 1 sessions.

“So first we’ll do an evaluation and assess the client’s physical ability and cognitive ability and adaptive ability, and then develop an exercise program for them,” says the co-owner.

As for pricing, Bethke says it will cost $30 for a 30 minute long 1 on 1 session, and $55 dollars for a 60 minute session.

The co-owner says their goal is to offer group sessions in the future, and move into a bigger space.

“I’d love to allow mom or dad to be able to work out while their kids are getting a session,” says Bethke. “I’ve had lots of moms say ‘I don’t have time to work out, and if my child is going to exercise, i would love to exercise’.”

The training will focus on body weight exercises and strength training using weights, resistance bands and medicine balls.

“One of the things that we’ve found is [my son’s] pushup ability has improved, and sometimes when he’ll get agitated and anxious, we’ll get him on the floor and just do 10 and 15 pushups and he’s calm,” explains Bethke.

The gym is located near the intersection of Western and 69th Street.

For more information, visit the Special Strengths Fitness website.