2010-06-10 / Front Page
Sports club program builds fitness and confidence
Special Populations class builds stamina, self-esteem for developmentally disabled
Mary Kinningham, creator of OutdoorFit, began her fitness program nearly two years ago for those without disabilities. The program’s success led Mary to consider branching out to help the developmentally disabled.
Thomas Kinningham, 20, attends the School for Children in Eatontown and is in the fitness class.
“I have really seen an improvement in his balance, strength and self-esteem,” Mary said during an interview on May 7. “What I really love is that the class is outdoors, because Thomas doesn’t spend much time outside. He comes home after school and plays on the computer. This is a unique way to get him outside. The class has been great for him and his friends.”
For the majority of the class, participants execute body-weight exercises, like push-ups, pull-ups, squats and bear crawls.
“We do a variety of runs and jumps, and also include some light weight lifting with small dumbbells and rubber tubing,” Mary said. “This does not mean that we are going to try and set records in the bench press. Instead, we will push or pull a weighted sled, or throw a medicine ball around.”
Mary’s other son, Sam, 26, who played and coached both high school and college football, is also a trainer at TSC and is currently running a Kids Fitness Program in addition to the Special Populations class.
“He is always thinking outside the box when it comes to fitness,” said Mary. “He is able to keep fitness both fun and effective in a short amount of time.”
Mary explained that Sam began by personally training his brother Thomas, and that they opened up the program to the public last fall.
“Sam comes up with different activities like hurdles and ball slams. It’s always different and is always a full-body workout that focuses on balance, strength and self-esteem,” said Mary.
“We started the program a little under a year ago, and it picked up,” said Sam. “I keep them moving. They drag sleds and have fun.”
Sam said the class provides an outlet for his brother and his friends.
“Their confidence is through the roof,” Sam said. “When they first started, they weren’t talkative, and now they don’t stop talking. It elevated their confidence ten times.”
The program maxes out at five participants per class to ensure individualized attention.
“Sam treats all the kids as if they’re regular,” said Mary. “He expects the best, and they step up for him.”
The Special Populations class is held every Monday and Wednesday from 4:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. rain or shine.
“We are outside, working out and having a great time,” said Mary. “If you are 14 or older [for the Special Populations class], you are welcome to join us.”
In a testimonial to the program’s success, Vicki Hoagland, mother of Thomas John, a participant in the class, shared her son’s experiences.
“OutdoorFit is an excellent exercise program for special-needs young people who really get a great workout during the 45- minute session,” said Hoagland. “They are outdoors after being in school all day. What a great way to unwind and get rid of all the stress of the day. The buddies are so helpful to the kids. Everyone wins. You can’t beat it.”
TSC is located at 776 Shrewsbury Ave. For more information, visit www.outdoorfitnessnj. com