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The Year of the Follow-Through

Motivation is the battery of behavior. We all do things for a reason. I was remarking to my friend the other day that February becomes “2nd Christmas” for fitness enthusiasts, as many people who made it their New Year’s Resolution to begin exercising lose their momentum. Plenty of new, perfectly usable exercise equipment goes up on Craigslist for a fraction of retail price.

While I do enjoy a good deal, I have to question why people give up so soon. There are a couple primary reasons:

– Intrinsic, or primary motivation can fade without reinforcement
– People do not have enough of the right information about fitness modalities and how to begin a safe, effective program
– People lack the play aspect of fitness and movement

The same issues account for inconsistencies with integrating exercise programs into the home. There is a fine line between rigid, regimental protocol and introducing exercise as part of a regular (almost daily) but variable and fun activity schedule. Here is an example of a small difference in approaches:

Approach 1: “It’s time to do exercise, Curtis. We have to do exercise for 10 minutes.”

Approach 2: (Pick up light medicine ball or Sandbell) “Catch!” (Throw ball)

Slight as it may seem, I’ve found that approach #2 is much more successful for avoiding escape behaviors or non-participation and for immediately engaging the athlete with autism, particularly with younger individuals on the spectrum. There is no verbal task demand. We are simply beginning an activity without giving it any clear label (other than catch). Secondly, we are creating an environment that includes spontaneity which, for many children and young adults with autism, is an area of challenge due to difficulty with transitions.

In the Year of the Follow-Through, Autism Fitness, as the Leading Authority in Fitness for the Young Autism population will have some exciting (really, I mean exciting for all of us, not just me) projects and announcements. Here’s the short list:

– The Beyond Boundaries “Foundations” DVD
– The AutFit E-Book
– The IYCA Special Needs CEU Course
– The FIRST EVER Autism Fitness Charity Sandbell Walk
– Autism Fitness Initiative Seminars go INTERNATIONAL
– And…The Autism Fitness Level I Certification program

2010 will only be a “big year” for AutFit if more parents, educators, and professionals become a part of our mission; to bring Fitness and lifelong health to individuals with autism.

I will leave you with one of my highlights from 2009, the Western PA Autism Fitness Initiative where I had the pleasure/challenge of creating movement progression activities for over 150 participants. Here is a clip:

EC Blog Jan 1 2010 from Eric Chessen on Vimeo.

Live Inspired,