When most people think about adaptive exercise for neurodivergent people, they have a narrow concept of what is possible, desirable and necessary. In terms of what’s possible, We’ve often heard things like, “Oh, she won’t do that kind of exercise,” “I don’t think he can learn to do that,” and “That’s going to be way too challenging for her.” When it comes to what’s desirable, We’ve heard people say, “He hates to exercise,” and “She’s just not motivated to move, so I doubt this will work.” And as far as what is necessary, the evidence is abundantly clear: young neurodivergent people get considerably less physical activity than their neurotypical peers, and the trend gets more pronounced with age.

What’s so rewarding about the work that we do at Inclusive Fitness is that, literally every day, we get to see our athletes try new things, blow past expectations, and, over time, develop a sense of excitement about coming back for more. We’ve coached thousands of sessions since we opened IF, and we love celebrating each athletes’ successes – which are many! It’s an absolute joy to be a part of that process; but success doesn’t really surprise us these days. And, honestly, why should it? When we have high expectations and create the right conditions, amazing things usually happen.

Neurodivergent people can do, want to do, and need to do high quality exercise consistently. Our job is to meet our them where they are while challenging them to move forward, create structure while ensuring it doesn’t restrain them, and let each athlete find their own limits rather than imposing them through our biases. In our latest episode of the Raising The Bar podcast, Eric Chessen and Greg Austin talk about why the status quo is so low, and how we can start to change it.

For too long, we’ve accepted a status quo that severely limits the potential for neurodivergent people to achieve a high degree of fitness. The good news is nothing binds us to this current line of thinking. We see the changes here every day at Inclusive Fitness and together we are redefining the status quo.

I’d love to hear what you think and learn what experiences and ideas you have. Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

The status quo of fitness for neurodivergent people is low. Very low. Our own biases about what people can and want to do, combined with our low expectations about what constitutes a good fitness program, create the perfect conditions for higher incidence of preventable diseases and injuries, lower engagement and productivity, and consequently a quality of life that is less than what it can and should be. It’s past time to make a change.