An interesting statement some years ago from the CEO of the Special Olympics pretty much sums up the reason why we started Inclusively Fit – the Special Needs community is underserved and overlooked when it comes to exercise and fitness.

“As a society, we have to do a much better job of building community for people who have some challenges but still have the capacity to be healthy. We have an epidemic of low expectations and social isolation and the resulting health and emotional problems that ensue from that. Balance is about finding a sense of self-worth and social engagement so that you can feel good about yourself and valued by others. Everybody will have a different pathway to achieving that sense of balance. This is not just about our bodies. It’s about our values.”

-Timothy Shriver, Chairman and CEO, Special Olympics

The Special Olympics is a great start but a very limited start since only a fraction of the Special Need community actually participates in Special Olympics. Hence, this community is in dire need of Inclusively Fit and its special needs gym.

Stephen Corbin, D.D.S., M.P.H. Senior Vice President, Constituent Services and Support Special Olympics, wrote years ago,

“We feel that the healthy weight issue for people with disabilities is every bit as serious as it is in the general population. There’s an epidemic, an endemic of unhealthy weight in this population.”

Dr. Corbin’s comment is supported by research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which estimates that health care costs of obesity related to disability reach more than $50 billion each year.

If ever there was a need for a disability-friendly gym and fitness center, the time is now. Inclusively Fit is that gym, with its focus on supporting the Special Needs community. The trainers at Inclusively Fit develop one-on-one training regimens tailored to the specific individual and their abilities. The only way to combat obesity, a common challenge to members of this community, is by adopting and committing to a frequent exercise program. The individual and social costs of not doing anything are too great.


The motto is located all over when walking into the gym: “IF you are here, you succeed”. Regardless of what condition or concerns you have, the personal training staff as well as the owner, Mark will find ways to make sure that they can help you to achieve any goal you want to. The plans that are created are tailored towards your goals and comfort. Having trust with your trainer and being able to push yourself is all you need to grow and gain progress. We will take care of the rest.

We have helped clients with a variety of physical and cognitive ailments such as:

  • Autism/Aspergers.
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Anxiety
  • Neurological Empairments.
  • ALS/Lou Gehrig’s

Even if you think we can’t help, I encourage you to call and talk with Mark to schedule a tour of the facility. Being able to see the gym in person will seal the deal for you and make a world of difference in your thoughts about fitness and the “limitations”. IF you want to learn more, please call us at 586-850-5004. We also recommend that you like our Facebook page as well as Instagram page @inclusively_fit.


Exercise is not a bad thing, contrary to what you may hear. Not only does your body feels great and you become healthier, but there are mental benefits that are gained from a regular exercise routine. Often, special needs people are discouraged from performing exercise for fear of injury or a mental barrier, but it is foolish to prevent others from achieving their fitness goals. Denying those of special needs from opportunities limits them from reaching their physical and mental potentials.

Some benefits that come with exercise are very basic and common sense, but often there are other major changes that occur through proper fitness regimens. These include:

  • The ability to control weight.
  • Improved cognitive benefits.
  • Higher levels of socialization.
  • Improved self-worth and self-esteem.
  • Reduced risk of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

With all things considered, going through the trials and tribulations of an exercise program are proven to be extremely beneficial and it is vitally important towards living a happier and healthier life.


A gym created to keep people with special needs fit has opened in Sterling Heights. It is helping clients physically and mentally.

Riley O’Leary, 18, has down syndrome, but that hasn’t stopped him from staying active.

At Inclusively Fit in Sterling Heights, O’Leary is taking the right steps to stay healthy, thanks to his trainer, Mark Ralko.

Ralko said, “There is no gym like this anywhere, it’s really needed out there.”

Mark has been working with Riley for the past five years.

“I trained him to be on the track team. Everyday after school he and I would go out to the track, I would say, ‘Okay Riley, this is a track, we got to learn how to run around it.’ I taught him how to stretch, how to properly run,” he explained.

Mark is a former special needs teacher but noticed his students weren’t getting enough exercise outside of physical therapy.

“They feel better cognitively, emotionally, they feel better about themselves.”

After years one-on-one training, he opened the gym specializing in folks with special needs.

Mark helps his clients stay fit or trains them for certain sports.

“They just feel a part of the community and a part of something and it goes above and beyond physical exercise. They perform better in school, they sleep better at night, they have better behaviors.”

For families, Inclusively Fit is more then just a gym.

“Share stories, we understand each other, and working in a group it’s so nice because then they can have social (interaction),” said Suzanne O’Leary,Riley’s mother. “They are getting a physical workout.”

Mark has about 40 clients. He hopes to see that number grow and open up more gyms in the next few years.

“There life completely changes when they start exercising.”

The gym’s rate starts at $25 a month.

They will soon start a scholarship program for families who cannot afford the training.

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