How important is fitness for your child?

Scope’s student journalist Ciaran Hoyle talks to Andrea Cummins about a unique fitness program Gekko, developed for children with a disability.

When I was around 14, I started heading to a gym to satisfy my parents’ desire for me to work out. I was formally diagnosed with a disability at the time, had been since I was about 6, so it seemed only logical that I be sent to a gym that supported kids with disabilities. While I always somewhat dreaded going, it was still a successful experience, and I only stopped after the gym itself had moved.

Recently I caught up with my old personal trainer Andrea Cummins to find out about an exciting program she’s developed for kids with disability.

Together with Sam Wood (yes, the one from The Bachelor), Andrea started Gekko, a unique fitness program for children with disability

She was first inspired to start the program while working as a kindergarten teacher.

She noticed that a number of the children she worked with had poor muscle tone, poor eye-hand coordination, and lack of core strength and balance. Soon after starting the group program, Andrea started getting requests for one on one training.

Andrea now also offers personal training to offer children and youth with disability in a gym environment.

When I asked Andrea what she felt was needed when working with those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), she said she believes modeling the activity around the trainee is important, as is patience and understanding. Being able to read the child’s mood and temperament is crucial as well, as being prepared for any possible triggers.

Andrea said that individual concerns need to be considered. For example, some young people with autism are uncomfortable seeing their reflection in the mirror. Others may have particular obsessions such as preferred colours.

It can be challenging at times but what keeps Andrea focused is knowing what’s most important to her – it’s not just about helping people be active or healthy but her passion for seeing young people grow and reach their own potential.

About Ciaran Hoyle

Ciaran Hoyle - Profile picCiaran is 19 year-old writer, diagnosed with autism since he was five. He is extremely passionate about writing and wants to make a career out of this.

This article was written as part of Scope Sports Journalism Project, aimed at increasing the awareness of social participation in sport by people with multiple and complex disability.