Going to the gym for the first time can be an anxiety provoking experience for anyone. This anxiety can create a barrier for many individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and as a result they can become ‘stuck’ in cycles of low self-esteem, low-self-confidence, and unhealthy/sedentary lifestyles. Beast Mode Fitness First Experience (Beast Mode) provides an opportunity for participants to learn the tools and strategies for breaking this cycle and beginning a fitness regime.
Beast Mode is a gym-based exercise program for young men and women (ages 16 to 30 years) with ASD who want to become more physically active in their lives. The program provides motivated individuals with the opportunity to learn about personal fitness, health, and well-being while also building self-confidence through goal development and achievement. The initial 10-week program pilot launched in April of 2016 as a collaborative partnership between The Sinneave Family Foundation (Sinneave) and the University of Calgary.
There is a wealth of research that suggests that substantial health benefits can be gained through a combination of activities that include fitness, flexibility, and strength training exercises. The Beast Mode fitness model is designed to promote interest in developing mobility, flexibility, strength training, cardio conditioning, teamwork, and social skills related to gym etiquette among young adults with autism. The importance of creating a comfortable environment and encouraging a team atmosphere is a priority.
Sinneave is evaluating this program to understand its effectiveness and how to best share the key learnings so they can be easily adopted by organizations in the broader community. We will be seeking input from past and current participants, coaches, partners, and others who have an interest in sharing their own perspectives, knowledge and experiences related to fitness for individuals with autism or other developmental disabilities. Our current aim is to answer these questions:
- What unique need(s) are we meeting?
- What are the key components of the program model that make it successful?
If you would like more information about becoming a part of the Beast Mode experience, please contact Mike Barrett by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 403-210-5000.
This program has helped me expand my interests and give me better insight and control over my health, so I can stay happy and healthy. It’s allowed me to grow and feel good about myself while I’m in the company of other individuals like myself. In this program, I have learned how to set and achieve goals and build confidence in myself. Remember, you never know you like something until you try it.