Anything is possible at Inclusive Fitness. The new facility in West Roxbury is lowering barriers and raising the bar for the neurodiverse community.
“Inclusive fitness is sort of a first of its kind,” says founder Greg Austin. He adds, “It is not really what we call an adaptive gym. It is actually a combination of three things: the right people, the right programming, and the right place where your diverse people, that is people who are autistic or have Down’s syndrome or other types of neurological conditions, do get really high-quality exercise consistently.”
The whole concept was inspired by the Austins’ 15-year-old son Lucas.
Lucas’ mom Kristina says, “We've always just been a really active family. And we just found that when we're active, we're better people, partners, and parents to Lucas. And we found that other families with children with autism or Down's syndrome also felt the same way.”
It wasn’t always easy to find access to gyms or sports activities, but Lucas enjoyed being active.
Kristina insists activities are about more than just physical exercise. “After his first triathlon and kids’ triathlon, he was packing up his things and going to the car. And he paused and he said, ‘I can do anything.’ And he just felt such a great sense of pride, of accomplishment and just a sense of, you know, ‘This, the world is open to me. I can do so many different things.’”
Inclusive Fitness has since changed the lives of many other athletes including 24-year-old Jordan.
Greg says, “She had never worked out and now she is an absolute machine when it comes to working out. You can't stop her.”
Her mom agrees. “We spent most of our lives shaving the square for her to fit in that round hole. And then you come across the place like I.F. where there isn't a matter of IF she can fit in there is a matter of WHERE because it's everywhere.”
The Austins say they plan to open up other centers in the Boston area in the next two to three years.
And Inclusive Fitness isn’t just a place where neurodiverse people can workout.
“I don't know if you know this, but the unemployment rate among people like our son Lucas is 90% or greater. And we want it to be a place where people can work and make a great living,” says Greg.
To learn more about Inclusive Fitness, head to inclusivefit.net.