Marcus Muscles at Bodysmith Aug 2012Guest Post From Brad Dienstbier,  M.A., NSCA-CPT and Marcus’ coach at The Bodysmith.

 Finding a good fitness facility is part 4 of our healthy adult with Down syndrome series.

In the fitness business we deal with many unique circumstances. In fact, I now realize that there are few people who don’t require some sort of special consideration when designing their exercise programs.

So when my friend Mardra asked me to write a post on how to find a gym that is a good match for someone with Down syndrome, I jumped at the chance. Here are my tips to find the place with the right fit:


•        Find a smaller gym. The national chain gyms can be crowded, are often staffed with inexperienced trainers, and are less personalized. A smaller facility allows familiarity with the staff and other members. It enables everyone to get to know each other and members feel welcome and comfortable. A gym that offers personalized attention to the people working out yields a safer, results-driven environment. This option may be a bit more expensive but the extra attention and atmosphere are worth it.

•        Make an appointment. After you have done your research and found some options, call the gyms and set an appointment to meet with the staff. Let them know that you are looking for a place for someone with Down syndrome. Giving them advanced knowledge will allow them to be prepared since it is possible they have never worked with a person with Down syndrome.

•        First impressions are key. As you meet with the gym representative, notice whether a sales person or trainer seem genuinely interested and concerned? Do they actively engage in conversation with the Down syndrome individual?

•        Make sure to speak with the assigned trainer personally. The same basic rules apply from the point above. Additionally, do they have a basic understanding of Down syndrome and its implications for exercise? After all, they should be aware of the circumstances since you phoned ahead and should be prepared by doing research if they are not up to speed on Down syndrome. This can also let you know how organized they are as a company if the trainer is taken by surprise. During your visit they should also ask about injuries and any other health/medical issues.

•        Atmosphere is everything. What was your overall impression? If all of the above points were adequately addressed, did anything else about the gym strike you? The gym should be clean, organized, and have an overall positive vibe from the staff and other members. You should feel welcomed. If members who are working out take a second to say “hi” you may have found your “fit family.”

Marcus posing after workout with Coach Brian and a few members of the Bodysmith

Marcus posing after workout with Coach Brian and a few members of the Bodysmith

Finding a good gym is one component to being a healthy adult with Down syndrome. I hope these tips help you along this path. For more information, you can also find us at




Post script from Me: Finding a gym is very personal. Anyone who decides to make a serious commitment to working out needs to find a gym and a coach that makes him/her comfortable and also has an understanding of his/her special needs. For example, my special need is a coach who never scolds me and tell me jokes to keep me going.

When it comes to matters of health, it’s OK to not force yourself into a box. Get the attention that works best for you. Period.