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.


“We see success in their self confidence, self esteem, socially, physcially; so we see a transformation,” says Mark Ralco his clients.

Before he opened Inclusively Fit, he worked in a school district where parents would ask him to help their special needs kids become a part of the sports team.

“So, they asked me to work out with their child and when that happened, it started out as one, then five, then 10 – and I knew there was a niche and there was a need for this program,” he says.

Seven years later that program led him to opening his own gym and adaptive fitness program for kids with special needs. His clients range from 4 to 55 years old. Some, like Riley, come from all over southeast Michigan just to see him.

“One year ago, it was hard to get Riley to even come inside the gym. I’d have to go into the parking lot, say, ‘Riley, it’s time to work out,'” Ralco says. “He wouldn’t leave his car. He would just kick, scream and holler and didn’t want any part of coming here.”

Everyone can see Riley’s progress now, though.

“Just being proud of himself, he has more confidence. He feels good and he’s happy. This made all the difference in the world for him,” says Suzanne O’Leary, Riley’s mom.

“Any disability, anybody can come in. Doesn’t matter if you’re able bodies or not able bodied, it’s geared toward the person who needs the help,” says athlete Christina Rossi.

She means it – and Mark does, too.

“I’m always learning. I want to grow as an individual more. I’m constantly learning about this profession and I just hope I can impact every single life that comes through these doors,” he says.

Marks clients can be diagnosed with cognitive impairments, down syndrome, autism; can be emotionally imparied, hearing imparied or physically imparied. If you’d like to learn more go to

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