January ACTION Leader of the Month: Eric 

What do you love most about FITBuddies?

Eric loves how FITBuddies improves his dancing. His break dance moves are something unique he’s mastered. He enjoys putting in work to get more fit so he can get better at dancing.



What's your favorite music?

Frozen, specifically “Let It Go” (who doesn’t love that song?!). Eric also loves hip hop dance music.

These are a few of my favorite things…

Running, swimming, riding the tandem bike, hiking and camping. 

What FITBuddies exercise move do you love most? 

The rowing machine and burpees. Eric’s mastered his signature burpee-break dance move! 

Why are you proud to be a FITBuddies ACTION leader?

Eric likes to teach people to be better dancers and better leaders. He likes to motivate and lead by example. He’s learned to self advocate and set a good example for his community; specifically, Eric is an awesome ambassador for Down Syndrome. Eric comes in willing to volunteer, help, and work with other people — this all manifested from coming to FITBuddies.

How does spending time at FITBuddies make you feel?

It makes Eric happy and and an all around better person. Exercising makes him feel good about himself, boosts his confidence and makes him go out there and participate in other activities. He’s more confident and comfortable around other people. Eric is much less a spectator as he was before, now he’s a participator. 

More from Eric's dad and Coach Jen!

As a parent, what goals have you observed being achieved through FITBuddies?

Eric has achieved a lot of goals. The main goal is getting him more physically active and not having him treat it like it's some sort of punishment. In the past, exercise was some type of punishment. Now, after all the years at FITBuddies, he's going in there and willingly participating. That's crossed into other things — 5K races, hip hop dancing, etc. Eric has incorporated more physical activity into his typical routine. Surprisingly, all the activity has led to improvement in so many areas — cognitive, social, emotional, expressing himself, development has been improving all around. That was a surprise, he's become a new person! Eric is more outgoing, more willing to try new things. This carries over into his diet, which is a huge lifestyle change.



What skills learned at FITBuddies does Eric use in his daily life?

His coordination — he was told early on that he had apraxia; he had difficulty with balancing and going up and down stairs. Through FITBuddies, his whole coordination has improved and opened the door for him to try new things. He has no problem going up and down stairs. He never wanted to carry things, now he has no problem doing things. He now steps over the dog and his overall balance and coordination has improved. That has opened the door for many things he perviously didn't like. His core strength has developed and now he's more comfortable sitting at the table, doing writing, etc. Recently, in the last 6 months, he's become a lot more independent. I no longer walk him inside the gym at FiT, no more chaperoning him into the building. Now, we pull up in front, he gets out of the car and goes in and after the activity he goes out on his own. We call him Eric 2.0, he's the revised version. In the last two months, he started talking a lot more and making complete sentences.

What has Eric demonstrated and achieved to be distinguished as this month's ACTION leader?

Eric has achieved SO much but he was chosen as this month’s ACTION leader particularly for his newfound independence. When Eric started at FITBuddies, he barely participated and his Dad attended every single session with him, hand over hand helping him and pushing him to try new things. Eric’s dad deserves a part of this award as he remained dedicated and committed to Eric’s progress. The progress was slow and I think it’s safe to say both his Dad and I really weren’t sure how far we would get or really if we would get anywhere! But twice a week, every single week, they have showed up to class since 2012. Eric has gone from 5 minutes of participation to being fully engaged for the full hour (he now attends classes 3 days/week); his Dad no longer stays with him at class and not only does Eric do the movements on his own but will demonstrate (or show off) for his peers. And the latest — Eric is now dropped off and struts into class on his own with his head held high, high fiving and giving hugs to anyone who will take one!



As his coach, describe Eric's growth that you've observed.

Eric is the definition of growth. In the last 7 years, he truly has blossomed into a mature, independent adult. I think Eric’s growth defines what FITBuddies is all about — it’s 20% about the fitness gains and 80% about personal growth and development. The confidence he has gained is contagious and his newfound sense of independence is really what we, as coaches, strive for with all our young adults. Since March when we had to put a pause on our in person classes due to Covid, I have truly missed working with Eric but could not be more proud to hear about his efforts to remain active on his own — including hiking and taking up swimming. Keep up the great work Eric! 

February ACTION Leader of the Month: Zach 

This month we are honored to highlight Zach and all that he accomplished during his time at FiT and with FITBuddies. Zach passed away in August 2020. We feel so fortunate to have captured this interview with Zach last spring. This month we highlight, honor and remember the strength and energy Zach brought to our group —  he will forever be missed and forever inspire us all to do our best every single day.

What do you love most about FITBuddies?

I love working out with my friends who support me.



What's your favorite music?

Hip Hop

These are a few of my favorite things…

Hikes, beaches, sushi, dogs and rollercoasters!

What FITBuddies exercise move do you love most? 

Pull ups

Why are you proud to be a FITBuddies ACTION leader?

I'm proud to be an ACTION leader because I have worked so hard in my pull ups and other exercises. 

How does spending time at FITBuddies make you feel?

I like going to Fit because everyone is so friendly and working out makes me feel good about myself. 

More from Zach's parents and Coach Jen!

As a parent, what goals had you observed being achieved through FITBuddies?

FITBuddies provided Zach with a supportive environment where he built lasting relationships and learned the importance of exercise and wellness as a way of life. With the help of his coaches, Zach learned strategies to manage his emotions and build resilience.



What skills learned at FITBuddies did Zach use in his daily life?

Being part of FITBuddies taught Zach important life skills like working with others toward common goals and being emotionally available to a friend in need. He learned discipline and the importance of showing up for yourself and others, regardless of how life challenges you. It was heartwarming to see Zach grow into a young adult who embraced emotional and physical fitness. We are forever proud of him.

What had Zach demonstrated and achieved to be distinguished as this month's ACTION leader?

Zach was chosen as this month’s ACTION leader for his willingness to take every opportunity he could to learn something new and stretch himself out of his comfort zone. Zach was a part of our FITBuddies program for 11 years and was a friend to everyone he came in contact with at FiT. He brought an energy and unity to our FITBuddies group that is hard to explain — he stepped up in every conflict offering a solution, provided empathy to anyone having a tough day and always brought a daily dose of laughter (as well as a good joke).



As his coach, describe Zach's growth that you've observed.

Zach started at FITBuddies in 2009 and in the beginning, always thrived off a very set routine and only liked to do movements that were familiar or easy for him. Over the years, we slowly started working on "being flexible" as well as trying to tackle the movements that appeared "too hard" or out of Zach's comfort zone. Before we knew it Zach was revving his engine with Coach Chris to pump himself up and give him the confidence to try all the hard stuff. He was so proud of himself for his ability to be flexible and now thrived off a challenge. Watching Zach's progress brought us all so much joy - the smile on his face and the extra pep in his step were priceless; but I can say with certainty Zach taught me way more than I could ever teach him as his coach. It was truly an honor to work with Zach and I feel so incredibly lucky that he was a part of our community for so long. He will forever hold a special place in our hearts at FITBuddies.

March ACTION Leader of the Month: Zoe 

As her coach, describe Zoe's growth that you've observed.

Coach Jen:

When Zoe started at FiT, she had a difficult time staying on task, would often sit out a majority of the session and would often run off (to watch other clients Olympic Lift — one of her obsessions :). As her coaches, we are so proud of the progress she has made physically, behaviorally and socially. She has matured so much in the past year or two and really just makes movement more fun! Zoe continues to challenge us (especially on reps and sets) but is now easily redirected and proud when she completes a task. She encourages her fellow peers and is always ready for a dance party when one of her favorite songs comes on. I look forward to seeing what the next couple years bring. Keep up the great work, Zoe💪🏻💪🏻

Coach Chris:

If you want to see growth, Zoe is never shy to flex her muscles at FiT. She has always been eager to exercise and since I’ve been working out with Zoe, she has learned a library of moves.

 

The area I’ve seen the most growth in Zoe is her communication skills. While training virtually, she was able to communicate when certain movements were too difficult or what she needed help with in order to learn the movement. Also, Zoe has developed much more stamina, completing entire work outs without taking a break.  

Zoe was working out 5 days a week, which would make anyone sore. Rather than letting the discomfort of sore muscles prevent her from exercising, she started expressing how certain moves were causing her discomfort and asked to modify or change movements. If push ups were too difficult on a certain day, she would ask for floor press. If ring rows were too challenging on a certain day, she would ask to do the rowing machine. Her memory of the movements she's learned was impressive, and made finding substitute movements easy and fun.
 

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What has Zoe demonstrated and achieved to be distinguished as this month's ACTION leader?

Coach Jen: 

This past year, Zoe has been resilient, flexible and an absolute rockstar! She embraced virtual training with an open mind and eventually started training with Chris 5 days per week. It was hard, it wasn’t ideal for keeping her engaged and just like all of us, there were days when she just didn’t want to move...but she persisted, she was consistent and we are so proud of her!! Prior to this past year, Zoe has also matured so much and really started to become an example to her peers — with her fun personality, her willingness to at least give things a try and her enthusiasm to build strong “muscles!!!”

Coach Chris: 

Working out virtually, Zoe was extra focused during the workouts and was constantly making progress. Zoe also demonstrated great patience during the transition to virtual training. 

When FiT was opened for in person training, Zoe jumped at the opportunity. She showed up flexing her muscles ready to get to business, just like old times.
 

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What skills learned at FITBuddies does Zoe use in her daily life?

Zoe has gained much more than enthusiasm for exercise at FITBuddies. She has also improved her social skills, ability to follow directions and a schedule, ability to work as part of a group, and ability to be flexible when routines change, as her needs and the needs of her classmates sometimes diverge.  

 

When the pandemic hit, we could not have imagined that Zoe would be forced to go virtual for an entire year.  When she first attempted virtual fitness, we figured we would try it on a lark, with not much hope for Zoe being able to stay focused. However, for 4 days a week for several months, both Zoe and her instructor Chris managed to do 1:1 virtual fitness sessions over FaceTime.  It was not always easy, but Chris deserves a medal for employing every tactic possible to keep Zoe on task and engaged over a screen.  We are so proud of Zoe’s ability to adapt to this challenging new situation.  Luckily, Zoe now gets to do in-person fitness outside twice a week with Jen, Chris and her longtime friend Olivia.  It’s the only regularly scheduled activity that she has outside the house.  She is always SO excited to grab her mat, mask and go!!!!  (She practically runs to the car.)  We are very appreciative of Jen, Chris and FIT for figuring out creative ways for all of our kids to stay active during this very challenging time.
 

As a parent, what goals have you observed being achieved through FITBuddies?

When Zoe started FITBuddies over 4 years ago at age 13, we were thrilled to have found a fitness program for teens and young adults with special needs.  It is so hard to find programs like these, and we felt especially lucky because FIT is very close to our house.  Our goal at that time was simply to get Zoe to be more active.  

As this goal was achieved and continued, we also saw Zoe’s enthusiasm for various exercise routines increase, as well as her desire to be strong and build big “MUSCLES!!!!” (now a common refrain in our house and at FIT).  Zoe started to incorporate the exercises she learned at FITBuddies in our home gym, especially ring pulls, overhead presses and planks.  As a result of this exposure to “real” exercise, she now loves to watch and imitate various exercise routines that she finds on YouTube, and occasionally joins us as we workout at home.


More from Zoe's parents and coaches!

What FITBuddies exercise move do you love most? 

Plank.

Why are you proud to be a FITBuddies ACTION leader?

I like being strong! 

How does spending time at FITBuddies make you feel?

Strong!

What do you love most about FITBuddies?

Seeing my teachers, Jen and Chris, and being active.



What's your favorite music?

The Knack: My Sharona

These are a few of my favorite things…

Yoga, FITBuddies, school and listening to music,

April ACTION Leader of the Month: Nick 

What do you love most about FITBuddies?

Chris and Jessica and Jen, Josh, Jose and Dion and Thom and all of my best friends alike and Kate!



What's your favorite music?

Twisted Sister.

These are a few of my favorite things…

Horror movies and pie.

What FITBuddies exercise move do you love most? 

Sit ups.

Why are you proud to be a FITBuddies ACTION leader?

I am proud at FITBuddies. Chris makes me happy and makes me smile!

How does spending time at FITBuddies make you feel?

Happy!

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More from Nick's mom and coaches!

As a parent, what goals have you observed being achieved through FITBuddies?

 

Friendship building; weight loss; better health; finding joy in exercise; a community!!!





What skills learned at FITBuddies does Nick use in his daily life?

 

Running, jumping, balancing, determination, confidence.

What has Nick demonstrated and achieved to be distinguished as this month's ACTION leader?

 

Coach Jen:

Physically, Nick is one of our strongest participants and he has come such a long way; not only learning new movements, but safely executing exercises that require focus, skill and patience. With that progress, Nick has gained so much confidence and has learned to enjoy movement (as he often told me in his early days, he’d rather be watching a scary movie than working out). In addition, Nick has made huge strides behaviorally — from barely participating in a group setting to becoming a leader whom his peers turn to for support; from voicing frustration on hard days with negative behaviors to maturely voicing what he is feeling and handling his emotions properly; and from distancing himself from peers that he may not connect as easily with to finding a common ground (or dance move) that will break the ice and make everyone laugh.

Coach Chris:

The biggest achievement has been Nick's increased involvement in the group classes. Nick started off more of an observer with the occasional joke name for an exercise but quickly found himself going rep for rep with his fellow FiT Buddies. He has a genuine camaraderie with the group and is always looking out for the best interest of each of the FiT Buddies. As for Nick's athletic abilities he has made huge bounds, literally! Since we started training together Nick went from being nervous to do a step up to eagerly doing multiple rounds of box jumps. Nick has an infectious personality and always leaves the group laughing. 

 

As his coach, describe Nick's growth that you've observed.

Coach Jen:

After participating in our group classes for a number of years, Nick also began working 1:1 with a trainer at FiT. It was during this time that I really felt like we began to see Nick shine. When Nick received the 1:1 attention he desired and when his capabilities were unleashed, his confidence skyrocketed and we began to see him truly enjoy working out. Looking back on his first couple of years and the behavioral problems we tackled, I now realize it was more of a coaching error than a lack of progress on his end — I didn’t practice what I now preach for every one of our participants. We were focusing significantly more attention on Nick’s weaknesses rather than capitalizing on his strengths; focusing too much attention on areas of improvement rather than achievements, and that just doesn’t work for our participants. So I am particularly proud of Nick for being patient with us as his coaches and also admire his Mom’s perseverance to keep him involved, to keep him moving and to keep showing up for him as a role model and workout partner at home. Although we no longer work with Nick in person (since he moved to San Diego), we are so thankful that this past year of virtual training has brought us back together. Nick is now a strong leader in our groups, with a gentle heart and a hilarious sense of humor that keeps us all laughing from week to week. Keep up the great work, Nick!!

Coach Chris:

When I first met Nick I had to literally hold his hand to get him to participate. Now he’s raising his hand asking to demonstrate moves. Another area of growth I’ve seen in Nick is his ability to manage his emotions. Learning new exercises and movements can be really hard and frustrating, especially if the moves are difficult, and even more so after a long day. Rather than letting his emotions get the best of him, Nick has developed the ability to keep a level head and explain what he’s feeling or let his coaches know that something is difficult and he needs a little help. It has been amazing to watch his transformation. 

May ACTION Leader of the Month: Ari 

What do you love most about FITBuddies?

I like the friendships that have been created. Even though I don’t know everyone, I like how everyone’s been nice to everyone else. 


What's your favorite music?

Hip-hop and rap. 

These are a few of my favorite things…

I like going out for walks and playing golf. 

What FITBuddies exercise move do you love most? 

I’m pretty good at planks. 

Why are you proud to be a FITBuddies ACTION leader?

Because the word leader I’d say perfectly describes me and even though people haven’t always told me that, I’ve always been one. 

How does spending time at FITBuddies make you feel?

I feel pretty good. It actually depends — I’m normally pretty happy but sometimes I get kind of frustrated. I don’t show my frustration as much. It’s mostly before I go to FiT that I get frustrated; once I get there, I usually feel much better. Exercise makes me feel good.

More from Ari's parents and coaches!

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As his coach, describe Ari's growth that you've observed.

Coach Jen:

When Ari first started at FITBuddies, I would say he, like many, did not exactly enjoy movement and exercise. He would more or less show up ‘because mom made me’ (or at least that’s the impression he gave us :). As an avid Warriors fan, that is how we made our first connections to movement “we are going to do agility drills like Steph Curry!” We would get the littlest bit of a smile, a sense of connection and slowly Ari to enjoy movement. He enjoyed being a part of a group and participated independently. Fast forward to March 2020 when all our classes went virtual and Ari began training with us 4-5 times a week and has maintained that schedule for over a year. During this past year, Ari also started participating more verbally and now we can always count on him to share an extremely thoughtful answer or a little side joke. Keep up the great work, Ari!

Coach Chris:

The growth I’ve observed in Ari has been his willingness to demo for the class. He was a shy guy when I first met him and would smile while sliding behind the class when asked to demo a move. Now Ari is my go to demo dude during group classes. 

Coach Carly:

I've had the unique experience of getting to know Ari in strictly a Zoom setting. Over the course of our relationship, I've reveled in the pleasure of Ari's comfort with his own voice, specifically in sharing his feedback with me. Whether it's deeper insights into a comment I've made or maybe a differing opinion that he would like to further discuss, I've loved being challenged by Ari, learning from him and growing in the process. Getting to know one another on a deeper level and developing mutual respect for what we can both learn from one another has been such a treat.



What skills learned at FITBuddies does Ari use in his daily life?

 

Ari is stronger which has really helped his golf game. He has learned to be more patient with different types of social interactions.

As a parent, what goals have you observed being achieved through FITBuddies?

 

Our goal is for Ari to be physically fit and active and for Ari to have more social interactions. His fitness sessions address both goals. He has come to enjoy exercising, interacting with the coaches and having fun with his friends during the monthly Friday Social Hour.




What has Ari demonstrated and achieved to be distinguished as this month's ACTION leader?

 

Coach Chris:

Ari has always been a devoted athlete. When we were training in person he loved showing off to the coaches, especially when it was a move he had been struggling with. It was always a treat to be in the middle of a workout and hear Ari call, “Coach Chris,” then pumped out a bunch of push ups, or did an exceptionally long broad jump. Online training is no different, he is devoted to his exercises and is eager to demonstrate moves during group workouts. In the virtual group socials, Ari is always incredibly respectful of everyone, and was incredibly patient during the move online (although I think he got a good laugh at his coaches while we struggled to learn the technology). 

Coach Jen:

While this past year has been a tough transition for many of our participants, I feel as though Ari has grown so much and more confidently participates in the group classes as well as uses his leadership skills to navigate a group setting. Ari is extremely patient and is often the ‘quiet leader’ in our groups; but what stands out to me is his increased focus as well as his thoughtful responses. Ari has also been averaging 4-5 sessions a week and even continued his workouts during a trip to Israel. Being able to work with Ari virtually has enabled us to maintain a consistent schedule and he has progressed so much in his training (and his commitment to his workouts).

 

Coach Carly: 

Ari lives and breathes the principles of mindfulness in all of our group settings. Our group classes are always a good time, however the hectic nature of navigating respecting one another's voices in a Zoom setting can be tricky. Ari routinely practices patience, and when given his turn to speak, adds insightful, deep thoughts to our group discussion that always elevate the conversation. Ari's presence is such an addition to our monthly socials as he demonstrates the traits of a leader by showing respect to all of his peers. 

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June ACTION Leader of the Month: Olivia 

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What do you love most about FITBuddies?

Miss Jen & Mr. Chris! 


What's your favorite music?

Black Pink & The Wiggles

These are a few of my favorite things…

Hiking, FITBuddies & going to my grandma's house.

What FITBuddies exercise move do you love most? 

Farmer's Walk.

Why are you proud to be a FITBuddies ACTION leader?

I do good work! 

How does spending time at FITBuddies make you feel?

Happy :) 

More from Olivia's dad and coaches!

All about Olivia!

As her coach, describe Olivia's growth that you've observed.

Coach Jen:

Prior to Covid, Olivia participated in our group sessions but we often had very little participation and the participation required lots of prompts, a volunteer by her side or holding her hand and lots of redirection. When we started back with outdoor training, Olivia did a 180 and was now miss independent. She has more energy, more enthusiasm and you can tell she is proud of her new independence. She completes the entire workout and almost entirely on her own; she loves being a leader now and demonstrating a movement or finishing a round first. We all love working with Olivia and look forward to seeing what the next year of growth brings her way.

Coach Chris:

Since we started training again after lockdown Olivia has been unstoppable! It’s like I’m working out with a different person. Before lockdown in 2020 Olivia was reluctant to try new or difficult moves, but all that seems long gone! Olivia is eager to learn new moves, and determined to make progress on the moves that are difficult for her. She has learned that as long as she tries the movement her coaches are happy to compromise on the number of reps. Olivia will also do “extra credit” reps if I’m taking too long to get the next move set up, I can’t stop her from moving!

 



What skills learned at FITBuddies does Olivia use in her daily life?

 

The most important thing is her social skills. We do FITBuddies so she can stay in shape, but her social skills are improving quite a bit, too.

As a parent, what goals have you observed being achieved through FITBuddies?

 

Being a little more independent, she doesn't have to be holding hands the whole time. She knows the routine now and she does it by herself.




What has Olivia demonstrated and achieved to be distinguished as this month's ACTION leader?

 

Coach Chris:

Olivia has achieved a level of physical fitness and mental toughness that has made her a force to be reckoned with. A good day at FiT Buddies for Olivia in the past would have been completing a single round of any of the workouts for the day; now, Olivia is completing EVERY round from ALL workouts of the day, doing extra reps AND asking to plank at the end, even if we are over time. She is a strong athlete and great role model, even when she’s being silly!

Coach Jen:

Olivia has been chosen as this month’s action leader for her newfound Independence. She is a confident leader and her training buddy’s number one cheerleader. Olivia has a great attitude even when asked to do movements she dislikes or that are hard for her. She is now not only willing to give things a try, but she tries by herself and responds to feedback appropriately.

September ACTION Leader of the Month: Spencer 

All about Spencer!

What do you love most about FITBuddies?

Spending time with ALL of my friends at FiTBuddies!


What's your favorite music?

My favorite song to play on my ukulele is "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz and on drums is "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by Queen.

These are a few of my favorite things…

Watching sports, playing music and board games and hanging out with Aaron, Sarah and Woolly. ​

What FITBuddies exercise move do you love most? 

Push ups.

Why are you proud to be a FITBuddies ACTION leader?

It makes me feel happy to help other people learn how to do new exercises!

How does spending time at FITBuddies make you feel?

I feel excited when I see my FiTBuddies coaches and I feel healthy because I'm taking care of my body.

More from Spencer's parents and coaches!



What skills learned at FITBuddies does Spencer use in his daily life?

 

Spencer and his brother Aaron (a former college athlete and current marathoner) are extremely close. Working out is a huge part of Aaron’s life and because of FITBuddies it’s something that they can talk about and do together. Spencer has created multiple workouts to do with his brother over FaceTime. The atmosphere of inclusiveness has shown Spencer that EVERYONE has different abilities but that as long as you try your best and have fun that’s all that matters.

As a parent, what goals have you observed being achieved through FITBuddies?

 

Spencer has learned so much from FITBuddies. He has learned about physical fitness, nutrition, health, movement, stretching, gratitude and meditating. He loves the time spent with Jen, Chris and Carly and his friends in the group. It’s a great social opportunity and I’m impressed with the way each participant cheers each other on. Thom and Tracey have made all of the FITBuddies feel welcome in the gym and members of our community that work out at FiT always tell me how seeing Spencer’s group class inspires them.  




As his coach, describe Spencer's growth that you've observed.

Coach Jen:

Wow, I am not sure I can sum up Spencer’s growth in a paragraph, but after working with him for 15 years, I can say the most important growth I have seen is around his awareness of his own body and the way he responsibly manages his own health. I remember when I first started working with him, I would ask him to bend his elbow and he would bend his knee. As is the case with many of our participants, we started at square one in terms of beginning to grasp physical movements and how our body works in coordination with our brain. Watching Spencer in action today is extremely motivating and rewarding as you can “see” how hard his brain is working to process our instructions and feedback and his patience in working on the hard stuff in order to recover from an injury or to work around a health issue is impressive. Now Spencer is able to combine breath work with his movements and is also able to identify when something is ‘off.’ We are so proud of Spencer and are in awe of the hard work he puts in on a daily basis to maintain his health and wellness. Keep up the great work, Spencer!!

Coach Carly:

I can only speak to the year and a half I've known Spencer, but I have been so impressed with his retention of the material we've covered during our Monday sessions and the application of it into his daily life. He understands that exercising our brains is just as important as working out our bodies and he implements the tools we learn. Spencer always offers a real life example of ways he practices presence and mindfulness. In observing his 1:1 sessions with Jen, Spencer has begun synchronizing breath to movement and watching the bridge of mindfulness practice with physical exercise has been such a treat. 

Coach Chris:

Whether it’s staying determined while learning a new movement or focusing on ways to improve known moves, Spencer is always finding ways to push himself to the best of his ability. Even while recovering from an injury or managing a health issue, he still sets a bar and pushes himself to it. The growth I’ve seen in Spencer has been in his confidence to let his coaches know about any health concerns and how he is managing it. Earlier on, Spence would bashfully raise his hand to tell Jen or I that certain moves caused discomfort and ask if there were alternatives, almost with an “eep” emoji face to accompany it. Now, he doesn't hesitate to let his coaches know and usually has a move to replace it — ready to roll. Sky’s the limit for this guy!

What has Spencer demonstrated and achieved to be distinguished as this month's ACTION leader?

 

Coach Chris:

Well, Spencer is the whole reason I was introduced to FiT Buddies in the first place! Spencer is one of the hardest working guys in the biz and always pushes himself the best he can. Spencer has learned to recognize his strengths and areas that need improvement. Being a FiT veteran, Spencer has learned a lot of movements and can recognize what areas those movements target, as well as understand the purpose of the movements. During the week, Spencer works out with both Jen and I and sometimes us coaches may not realize one of us has planned the same movement in a different workout, but thanks to his knowledge of movements he is quick to come up with alternative moves that meet the same goals (and always with a smile). Spencer is also a great role model for other buddies. He sets a good example of how to be an engaging athlete, respectful student, and mature individual. 

Coach Jen:

Spencer is an ACTION leader in so many ways, but what stands out most in the last year or two is his independence and body awareness, specifically around his own health. From various injuries to medical procedures, Spencer has navigated every turn in his health journey with a positive attitude, always making his workouts, nutrition and wellness a priority. He has learned how to listen to his own body by modifying movements and taking breaks when needed, yet challenging himself within his limits. His dedication and consistency to his workouts, to his daily movements (or “homework” he does on his own), and to his peers who can always count on him to ‘show up’ with a positive attitude is truly admirable. I think all of the coaches at BIA would agree that it is an absolute privilege to work with him and that we all strive to follow his lead of optimism and hard work.

Coach Carly:

Spencer is always the first person to ask how YOU are doing — being a friend and showing up for his peers is a job he doesn't take lightly. Similarly, Spencer treats each rep of each exercise set and every group activity, no matter if it seems trivial or is deeply thought-provoking, with the utmost respect and intention. The Spencer smile is a staple and I can always count on him to participate, never forgetting to raise his hand and respect our class rules. I've learned so much from Spencer and I think I can speak for all of our buddies in saying I never leave an interaction with him without feeling the most fulfilled and fuzzy inside. 😊 

October ACTION Leader of the Month: Marcus 

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All about Marcus!

What do you love most about FITBuddies?

Ball toss.

What's your favorite music?

Shape of You​

These are a few of my favorite things…

Baking with my mom

What FITBuddies exercise move do you love most? 

Squats

How do you feel to be a FITBuddies ACTION leader?

Happy​

How does spending time at FITBuddies make you feel?

FiTBuddies makes me feel excited! 

More from Marcus's parents and coaches!

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What skills learned at FITBuddies does Marcus use in his daily life?

 

 

Because of his improved strength he is better at chores like helping carry groceries, open/close containers and faucets independently, and handle his bike and backpack more easily.  He's also improved at sports like basketball, soccer and baseball, and has more endurance riding his bike uphill.

As a parent, what goals have you observed being achieved through FITBuddies?

 

 

It has been amazing to see Marcus's improved strength and flexibility since working with FITBuddies!  He can do things like pushups, situps, planks, lunges, jumping jacks and more with wonderful form and strength that we never saw previously.  He looks forward to exercise sessions; we see his improved confidence and smile that shows he's having fun, while he used to resist workouts as being hard.




What has Marcus demonstrated and achieved to be distinguished as this month's ACTION leader?

 

Coach Jen:

As his coaches, we are so proud to highlight Marcus this month as an ACTION Leader. What stands out most to me is his independence and his ability to take every opportunity he can to learn something new (i.e. he is willing to work on the ‘hard stuff’). While I currently do not work with Marcus, I have loved getting updates about him and am so proud of the progress he has made with Coach Chris. He is full of determination, focus and energy and I look forward to watching him grow. 

Coach Chris:

Marcus has earned the title of ACTION Leader of the month for learning and practicing how to be more independent and acting like a leader. Marcus is a busy man, and I’m lucky he has time to train with me. He helps me set up and put away the equipment for our workout station at his home. Moreover, although he’s a man of business and we don’t have too many long conversations because we are exercising the whole time, he takes the time to answer my questions about the workout. He does not like push ups, but understands that they are important and will help him get stronger. His favorite movement is the ball toss and it shows, he nearly knocks me over when he passes it to me! 

As his coach, describe Marcus's
growth that you've observed.

Coach Chris:

Where do I start? I have been working out with Marcus since day one. This young man went from needing to be rewarded to do what was expected to being one of the most active FiT Buddies I’ve had the pleasure of training. When we first started training together it was difficult for Marcus to adjust to different workout routines or learn new moves. Now he welcomes different arrangements and is excited to learn new moves. I hope he is, anyway. He will still tell me if something is difficult, “it’s hard,” he’ll tell me, but it’s usually followed by, “but I’m STRONG,” as he continues the movement. Marcus’s communication skills have also improved in our time together, although I can’t take any credit for that. He informs me of how he’s feeling and has learned to use his words to express any difficulties. Marcus has made tremendous strides in his abilities, at this point he can handle whatever I throw at him and then some! He is a delight to exercise with and I look forward to watching him continue to make progress.

Coach Jen:

When Marcus first started working out with us, our main focus was on behavior management and focused participation, essentially just getting some level of participation and movement throughout his entire session. Marcus is now able to complete tasks on his own, communicate wants/likes/dislikes with Chris and completes an entire session with no problem. We are now able to shift our focus from behaviors to movement progressions and have seen so much physical growth since he has been working out with Chris at home. Keep up the great work Marcus!!

November ACTION Leader of the Month: Selina 

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All about Selina!

What do you love most about FITBuddies?

First of all, you get to exercise, and exercise is really good for your body. My classmates are awesome, and my coaches are nice and friendly and fantastic and wonderful and helpful. 

What's your favorite music?

My favorite music is BTS. I like Permission to Dance, Butter, and Dynamite. I also like Love Me Like You Do by Ellie Goulding. I also like Treat You Better by Shawn Mendes. I really like Levitating and Don't Start Now by Dua Lipa. I also like Perfect by Ed Sheeran.

These are a few of my favorite things…

My favorite thing is playing with Max my stuffed animal. I also like dogs. But I am afraid of real dogs. I like riding on my tricycle. I like to dress up for fun. I like to wear jeans, sparkly shirts, and dresses.

What FITBuddies exercise move do you love most? 

1. Knee hugs

2. Inchworms

3. Push ups

4. Over head lunges

5. Lateral lunges

6. Sit ups

How do you feel to be a FITBuddies ACTION leader?

I try very hard and I put a lot of effort into exercising at FiTBuddies. I want to become strong and confident.

How does spending time at FITBuddies make you feel?

I feel happy and excited. I am always happy to see my friends. 

More from Selina's mom and coaches!

What skills learned at FITBuddies does Selina use in her daily life?



I would say that FITBuddies allowed Selina to know that she can do hard things, that she is capable and strong. Her attitude is noticeably different. Whereas she gave up easily before, now she is excited to try new things and challenge herself. Our family regularly goes hiking or biking every weekend, and now she can hike more strenuous terrain and bike longer routes without complaining. Not only that, she is also our cheerleader, constantly telling us “You can do it”, “You are doing a good job”, and giving us high-fives. It is so refreshing to see Selina enjoy an active lifestyle. 

As a parent, what goals have you observed being achieved through FITBuddies?

 

One immediate change that I noticed in Selina after joining FiTBuddies was that she really enjoyed working out with her FiTBuddies coaches and buddies. Exercising has always been difficult for Selina, her low muscle tone makes her tire easily whenever she’s asked to exert herself. But the classes were so fun for her that she looks forward to them. The coaches are so supportive and encouraging, and always give her the appropriate level of challenges so that she pushes herself a little more than usual, but not to the extent that she is frustrated and gives up. When she joined FiTBuddies, I just wanted her to be active and have a regular exercise schedule, but I noticed that now she is much more confident in her abilities, and is not afraid to try new things. I think this is the most surprising and rewarding benefit that we have observed. 



As her coach, describe Selina's
growth that you've observed.

Coach Chris:

The growth I’ve seen in Selina is her comfort opening up to the group. When I first started training with Selina she was a bit shy and not anymore engaging than she had to be, if that much. Now, I am greeted with a bright and bold, “Hello!” when Selina joins the Zoom classl. She happily answers questions and is always excited to ask the other athletes how they are doing. There has been a growth in her energy too. Not just energy to complete a workout fast or to do more reps than the week before, but a positive energy that is contagious. Selina never fails to put a smile on my face or the other buddies. 

Coach Carly:

Selina has truly come out of her shell in a beautiful way. I always appreciated her quiet involvement in Mindfulness Mondays, but of late she's been raring to go and an active participant, always with a smile on her face! Her enthusiasm is infectious and inspires her peers and coaches. Just take this feature for example, her excitement for this interview is palpable through her responses and workout videos! 

Coach Jen:

The growth I have observed in Selina is one of my absolute favorite areas of development in our participants and that is building the confidence to continuously try new things and tackle the hard stuff. Selina has always been very cooperative, compliant and pretty easy going. For the most part, she was fairly quiet (except for the occasional moan that it was hard) and she was definitely much more of a listener than an active contributor in our group discussions. Movements were pretty tough for her to learn but she was persistent and stuck with it. Now Selina is one of our number one cheerleaders, encouraging herself as well as her peers to keep on going, tackle the hard stuff and celebrate every milestone. She understands now that it doesn’t matter how big or small the step forward is but what matters is that you give it your best try and everyday she shows up ready and able, with an “I can do it” attitude and shines through, even across a computer screen. We absolutely love having Selina as a part of our group and not only look forward to watching her grow but look forward to seeing what more she will teach all of us!

What has Selina demonstrated and achieved to be distinguished as this month's ACTION leader?

 

Coach Jen:

Selina has been chosen as our Action Leader of the Month for a number of reasons but what stands out most to me is her Confidence. I worked with Selina when she first started with FITBuddies but then she was mostly working with Coach Carly & Coach Chris. In the last two months, I have seen her in action again and have been amazed and walk away from each session with her with a smile on my face. Her confidence and energy is contagious. She is so happy to not only be a part of our group, but you can tell she now embraces a leadership role, is so proud of her progress (as she should be) and is constantly ready to learn something new.

Coach Chris:

In my eyes, Selina is the perfect role model for anybuddy to follow. New athletes can look to Selina for strength of perseverance. Selina will let you know when the workout is tough, but she will never let that be an excuse to stop. Experienced athletes can look to Selina for examples of how to be engaging with the group. Selina is ALWAYS eager to kindly greet other buddies as they join our FiT Zoom, and ask how they are doing. Selina sets a great example for anyone to follow, that’s why she’s this month's leader.

Coach Carly:

Selina is an awesome cheerleader for her peers both in and out of the gym, and she brings her 💯% every workout — when given an option of a low or high number of reps, she will never choose the easy way out. She focuses on really learning and understanding the movement rather than rushing through the motions to get it done and I have been super impressed. 

December ACTION Leader of the Month: Everybody! 

Check out this past year in review! We loved working out and hanging with all of you and, as always, are grateful you're a part of the BIA family. A special thank to FiT for always making us feel included in your community. Happy holidays and can't wait for 2022! 

January ACTION Leader of the Month: Sofia 

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All about Sofia!

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As a parent, what goals have you observed being achieved through FITBuddies?

Sofia's fitness is essential for her physical health as well as her mental wellbeing. Sofia's cardiologist recommends high impact activity several times a week and FITBuddies has done just that with a lot of fun!



What skills learned at FITBuddies does Sofia use in her daily life?

Skills: Turn taking, communication, appropriate encouragement of others, organization (supremacy of "the schedule" which she copies almost every time), endurance... Sofia managed a 9.5 mile walk with 700m climb over Christmas break in Indian Canyon in Palm Springs!

Sofia has learnt to participate while not imposing, she has improved her team work skills and she will be the first to encourage other participants when the training gets tough. 

Improving social skills and caring for others has been crucial over these last 2 Covid years of otherwise isolation and self-centered lifestyle...

What do you love most about FITBuddies?

I love doing FiT on Zoom. Every Wednesday is girl's workout with music.

What's your favorite music?
KIDZ BOP, Frozen 2, and mixed Disney music. 

These are a few of my favorite things…

Bonding and hanging out with Carly on Zoom for one on ones. I love seeing Jen and how she makes me do FiT even when it is not easy to follow. I love doing FiT with Chris because he always encourages me when I am not so sure about doing it. 

I have a passion to be a singer and be Hannah Montana. 

What FITBuddies exercise move do you love most? 

My favorite move is box jumps. There is a video on my iPhone, it was in 2019. 

How do you feel to be a FITBuddies ACTION leader?

Doing the demonstration FiT moves, helping Eric with his FiT moves in person with Chris, and helping cleanup after FiT.​

How does spending time at FITBuddies make you feel?

I feel great and happy and excited when I'm pumping with FiT!

What has Sofia demonstrated and achieved to be distinguished as this month's ACTION leader?

Coach Jen:

Sofia is a natural leader with a strong, confident and very persuasive personality. She has been chosen as this month’s ACTION leader for the many ways in which she helps others, leads by example (crushing workouts) and is everyone’s number one cheerleader; however, what stands out most to me and is a little bit more of a challenge for her is her ability to be led. Sofia has come a long way in the last year or two and now trusts her coaches to challenge her appropriately, teach her with dignity and knows that we will also continue to bring the fun (although she still likes to offer a few reminders on all the above:). We love working with Sofia and appreciate the ways in which she challenges us as well as the ways in which she now allows us to push and challenge her.

Coach Chris:

Sofia is pure energy. She is a student, worker, athlete, dancer, singer, and above all a leader. Even on days she isn’t feeling her best (we all have rough days), she comes to the Buddies sessions with an attitude that she is in charge of her emotions. Sofia is also dedicated to not just learning a movement, but understanding it as well so she can do the movement as properly as possible. She has even made her own workouts with the knowledge she learned at FiT! But this curiosity for understanding doesn’t stop with exercising, she is a natural student and loves learning about new ideas and skills. It’s difficult to sum up in a paragraph all the reasons Sofia has earned the ACTION Leader of the Month title! I am very proud of Sofia and look forward to hearing about her many more achievements. If the sky's the limit, it’s not high enough for what Sofia has planned.   

Coach Carly:

Sofia’s exuberance for FiT is matched only for her excitement for the success of her peers. Sofia is everyone’s biggest cheerleader and encourages her friends both in moments of success and difficulty. Her ability to attune to other’s emotions is unique and so appreciated by all of us coaches. Sofia works so hard during our workouts, taking the time to do the moves accurately and exhibiting meticulous technique. Although always creatively offering an amended workout clad with less reps and sans her least favorite moves, Sofia remains tough as nails until the bitter end of every circuit, giving it her all. Her characteristic energy enriches every room she signs into ;) We’re so impressed by her hard work and are excited to be featuring Sofia! 

As her coach, describe Sofia's growth that you've observed.

Coach Chris:

I have seen a lot of growth in Sofia over the past years. She has become more flexible in situations, developed communication skills, and has become the ultimate team player. The flexibility shows most at the beginning of class when we go over the movements of the exercise. In the past if there was a move she didn’t like she would let you know and it usually took a little bit of dialogue to steer us back on track. But now, if she doesn’t like a movement she will still let you know but won’t protest, she usually just tells me she doesn’t think it’s as fun. Sofia’s improved communication skills have made a world of difference. In the past when Sofia wouldn’t want to do a movement, sometimes it actually wasn’t that she didn't want to do it, it was that she was sore or the movement hurt her. Finally, Sofia has become the ultimate team player. She loves to encourage other athletes and is the official FiT Buddies cheerleader! She will also stay late after some classes to help me collect and clean up our equipment after our workouts. I’m very proud of you, Sofia! 

Coach Carly:

I’ve noticed Sofia’s evolving adaptation to her peers’ reactions and being mindful in the ways that she chooses to respond. During triggering moments, Sofia has learned to use humor and a laissez-faire approach to diffuse the situation which has been extremely helpful during tense moments. When we began working together, I noticed Sofia’s attachment to others as a huge part of her identity and at the time I loved how deeply she connected with those people. Although she’ll always be a major people person, these days, Sofia has individuated in a major way and is proud of how she shows up to every session–strong, independent, Sofia. Sofia has also begun expressing her emotional and personal needs so intentionally and eloquently and I love how she communicates to us what’s going on inside!

Coach Jen:

For all of our participants, one of the first things we focus on is building trust - we can’t begin to teach until we build trust. Most of our participants start out shy, timid and with low self confidence and we slowly work our way into their world. Sofia was the complete opposite, she charged into fitbuddies explaining exactly what her schedule would be (no less, no more), exactly what her workout would be (no exceptions) and insisted she would be assisting us in coaching others (from correcting their form to their behaviors). While there are many benefits to her strong personality, it took a long time for Sofia to allow us to coach her, to trust that we were going to push and challenge her just enough. I have been so proud of her growth the last year or two. She continues to bring her confidence to every session and will forever challenge us with alternatives for every new move, but she is now more willing to listen and adapt to our plans, loves a good challenge and is over the top excited with every creative teaching moment we bring her way. Congrats, Sofia! Keep up the great work and never stop challenging your coaches!

February ACTION Leader of the Month: Jason 

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All about Jason!

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What do you love most about FITBuddies?

Doing sit ups!
 

What's your favorite music?
The California Gurls song!
These are a few of my favorite things…

Watching Thomas & Friends.

What FITBuddies exercise move do you love most? 

Lunges! 

How do you feel to be a FITBuddies ACTION leader?

I feel happy!

How does spending time at FITBuddies make you feel?

I feel happy when I get to work out at FiTBuddies with Jen and Chris!

More from Jason's parents and coaches!

As a parent, what goals have you observed being achieved through FITBuddies?

Jason's FiT goal is improving his heath condition and reducing his anxiety. Jason has a shoulder dislocation issue. FiT helps improve and maintain his shoulder functions.



What skills learned at FITBuddies does Jason use in his daily life?

Skills: learning appropriate behavior and conversation, social skills. Jason experienced a lot of stress during the pandemic. He experienced anxiety issues during Zoom meetings. Jason loves FiT training in person. FiT helps Jason demonstrate positive behaviors. I have always believed physical health promotes mental health. FiT does that for Jason!

What has Jason demonstrated and achieved to be distinguished as this month's ACTION leader?

Coach Jen:

Jason has been chosen as this month’s ACTION leader for his drastic improvement in behaviors, focused attention to his movements and his ability to complete and participate in group workouts independently. In the last year, Jason has switched to the “older” group of participants and although it took some time adjusting to the new group (as well as to being back in person), he is now a strong leader in the group. He is very focused on completing the movements asked of him and can power through the workout with very few interruptions. 

Coach Chris:

Jason has demonstrated an ability to remain on task and complete each workout above and beyond what was expected. Jason regularly completes an extra round of our workout circuits with increased reps, it’s formidable to say the least! Jason shows a desire to have his good behaviors acknowledged, like following the rules and staying focused. I have been very impressed with the progress of Jason’s good behavior and his work ethic over the last couple of years. Congratulations, Jason! Keep up the great work! 

As his coach, describe Jason's growth that you've observed.

Coach Chris:

I’ve seen growth in Jason in several areas, most notable is in his behaviors. Jason is a ball of energy, and I can relate so I understand how sometimes it’s hard to find a place to put all of that energy. Jason, since we first started training together, has gone from needing to be reminded of the rules at the beginning of each class to Jason reminding me of what the rules are at the beginning of each class. I have personally seen Jason actively engage in self-regulation of his instinctive behaviors and redirect that energy to doing the proper movements or activity. His ability to focus and stay on task has improved as well, he may need a little guidance to start him on the right track before the workout but after that he is a force of nature during the circuits. Jason is a pleasure to train, even on days he has me fishing for shoes on the roof. 

Coach Jen:

Throughout the last year we have seen Jason grow in several areas. Behavioral growth is a huge emphasis of our program and for quite some time, most of our focus was on improving Jason’s behavior in a social, yet controlled environment. In the last year, we have seen a huge shift in Jason’s ability to self regulate and to stay focused on the tasks asked of him. It is evident that he is working hard to listen, engage when appropriate and to be respectful of his peers. Jason has really stepped up as a leader in his current group and requires very little coaching to stay on tasks. He has been very self motivated and completes every challenge we give him. He is a great example to his peers and can often demonstrate proper form and technique. As his coach, it has been a pleasure seeing Jason’s growth this past year and I am excited to see what’s next for him at FiTbuddies and beyond. Keep uo the great work Jason - we are SO proud of you!!

March ACTION Leader of the Month: Rani 

All about Rani!

More from Rani's parents and coaches!

As a parent, what goals have you observed being achieved through FITBuddies?

Rani has achieved a real passion and desire to stay healthy. She now prioritizes health and wellness almost daily thanks to the training at FIT buddies. The peer environment has given her role models and friendship that has been invaluable to her confidence.  

What skills learned at FITBuddies does Rani use in her daily life?

She now can exercise even when there are no FIT buddies sessions by her self and had really taken a deep understanding of healthy lifestyle and healthy food choices. 

 

What do you love most about FITBuddies?

Exercising!

What's your favorite music?
Taylor Swift!
These are a few of my favorite things…

Push ups :) 

What FITBuddies exercise move do you love most? 

Burpees! 

How do you feel to be a FITBuddies ACTION leader?

I feel really great!

How does spending time at FITBuddies make you feel?

Awesome!

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Coach Chris:

Rani’s ability to manage her emotions and use different coping strategies on her own is where I have noticed the most growth. Rani is a tremendous athlete, she is strong and has great energy! Her great athletic skills in combination with her skills to maintain emotional stability is a major achievement. It can be difficult to remember to use a coping strategy during an unexpected event or even recognize one's own emotions in the heat of the moment, but Rani has shown that with a lot of effort and dedication it is not impossible to achieve. If she can master this skill, there will be no limit to what she can accomplish! 

Coach Carly: 

Rani has made leaps and bounds socially and emotionally, but her major area of growth from my vantage point is her developing awareness of her needs and self care when she feels activated. Rani now observes her changing self states and gives herself a beat when she needs one, which don't we all need one from time to time! When Rani returns to the group, she is enthused, refreshed, and ready to rock and roll. 

Coach Jen:

When we first started working with Rani, she had a tough time in the group setting (as is common with many of our participants for various reasons). For a while, we focused on 1:1 sessions working to boost her confidence and self-esteem. Rani used to be very resistant to trying new movements but is now open to learning and understands that learning something new takes time and consistency. In the last year, I have seen a huge improvement in her behaviors in the group setting. Her coaches have seen so much more self-awareness and are so proud of her efforts to self regulate. Her new ability to do so has set a great example to her peers. We look forward to watching Rani continue to grow, change, and mature. Keep showing up and doing the best you can do!

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As her coach, describe Rani's growth that you've observed.
What has Rani demonstrated and achieved to be distinguished as this month's ACTION leader?

Coach Jen:

Rani has been chosen as this month’s ACTION leader for her growth in several areas. The last year Rani has focused a lot of attention on learning more about her behaviors and has drastically improved her awareness of her emotions and how they affect her actions. She has become more independent in terms of self regulation and has also become much more willing to try hard things - from movement to various concepts we may be working on. Rani keeps showing up, continues to put in the hard work, and serves as a great reminder that consistency and putting in your best effort isn’t always easy but pays off.

Coach Chris:

Rani has achieved a newfound confidence to make attempts at unfamiliar or difficult movements. When I first started training with Rani, new moves were the cause of a lot of stress. She would ask, “What if I fall down,” or, “What if it hurts?” This new confidence now has Rani saying, “I’m nervous, but I’m going to do it anyway!” Learning how to stay calm even when things are unfamiliar or difficult is one of the hardest lessons to learn in life, but it also leads to the most rewards in life. Keep up the great work, Rani!

Coach Carly:

Rani cheers on her peers, is the compliment queen, exercises with such enthusiasm, and let's not forget that infectious ear to ear smile of hers! Since beginning at BIA, I worked 1:1 with Rani in the overall wellness space and got to know her fairly intimately. I am impressed with her vulnerability; ability to take culpability when she's made a mistake; eagerness to improve and grow in all areas; and determination to be the best version of herself possible. Rani has been giving her all during our workouts and often does some extra credit reps. I am so proud of you, Rani! Keep up the great work!

June ACTION Leader of the Month: Emily 

All about Emily!

What do you love most about FITBuddies?

I love FitBuddies because the coaches are very supportive and kind to me. They give me a lot of encouragement and very clear instructions.

What's your favorite music?
My favorite music is rap and 80s music (Ricky Astley) and pop radio station KOIT.
These are a few of my favorite things…

Ride bicycles and reading and cooking!

What FITBuddies exercise move do you love most? 

Push ups and planks and jumping jacks.​

How do you feel to be a FITBuddies ACTION leader?

I am very happy and excited to encourage the FitBuddies kids to exercise more. I can be a role model for others!

How does spending time at FITBuddies make you feel?

I feel happy and excited when talking to FitBuddies on Zoom!

More from Emily's parents and coaches!

As a parent, what goals have you observed being achieved through FITBuddies?

 

Three  key goals:

  1. To know more friends and to improve Emily’s social skills

  2. To be physically active

  3. To appreciate that there are organizations like Buddies in Action that care about and help people with special needs

What skills learned at FITBuddies does Emily use in her daily life?

 

Social skills: Emily is more confident when interacting with other people incuding strangers. She is better at greeting and encouraging others.

 

Sense of responsibility: Emily knows the time for the exercise sessions, the mindfulness session, and the social chat on the first Friday of each month. She sets up the computer before each session without being reminded. She has learned to be more of an owner than a follower.

 

Communication: She learned to summarize her activities and tell others about them clearly.

What has Emily demonstrated and achieved to be distinguished as this month's ACTION leader?

Coach Jen:

Emily has been an energetic leader since her first day with FITBuddies. She has been a part of her virtual classes and from the beginning, you could feel her energy through the screen. She always brings a smile, always tries her best and is incredibly supportive of her peers. Emily is always willing to give things a try, even when they are hard and we have all enjoyed watching the “hard stuff” become easier and easier for her. 

Coach Chris:

Emily is a great example of what it looks like to be a leader. When doing group workouts, Emily is determined to do the most amount of work possible, is not afraid to ask questions, and always participates when we do group activities. Emily demonstrates great patience during workouts and social meetings, which is another great quality of a leader. She listens respectfully to her coaches and peers when they are speaking. It has been a pleasure getting to know Emily over the last couple of years. 

Coach Carly:

Our three class rules are: be respectful, raise your hand, and have fun - and Miss Emily is the queen at modeling all three, especially the last! Emily epitomizes how you can work hard and have fun while doing so. Whether we're learning wellness principles or moving and sweating, Emily participates enthusiastically and with her token massive smile spread across her face. Her energy is infectious and encourages her peers to get in on the fun. Emily is incredibly polite to her coaches and her friends and we always know we're going to have a good time when she signs into the meeting!