Valdosta Daily Times

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July 1, 2014

Fitness program caters to people with developmental disabilities

(Continued)

- — "With Sam, there is no lying back. He's so determined," Sonet says. "But I was worried. I thought the social component of personal training would be too challenging."

 This past year has altered her perspective on what's possible. He's grown more patient with clients - including her. ("Now he says, 'If you can't do this, try this instead,' " Sonet marvels.) He recognizes when he needs to explain things again. And he's continued to expand his professional horizons. The latest development? Smith and Ciner just got certified to teach Zumba, which they're incorporating into the Spirit program.

"Okay, we're going to do Zumba, everybody. Zumba is dance fitness, everybody. It's dance and exercise at the same time," Smith proclaimed during that recent Sunday class, before shaking his rear end and jumping up and down.

With the opening of the Spirit Club studio, Ciner plans to add specialized offerings to the schedule. So students will soon be able to sign up for hour-long classes devoted to Zumba, yoga or self-defense.

"It's evolving into an environment where people with and without disabilities can feel comfortable working on all aspects of health," says Ciner, who notes that there are several options for clients who think the class format isn't the right fit or enough of a challenge. Sprit Plus is for clients who would benefit from having a family member or counselor join in alongside them. There's also one-on-one fitness training, as well as Spirit coaching, which is focused on healthful behaviors, such as smart grocery shopping, taking a walk or going swimming.

Romit Mitra, 34, who meets with Ciner twice a week in addition to taking classes, had attended another gym prior to Spirit Club. "The exercises there were harder to do. I felt sad," he says. But now, he's all smiles about getting to be active and see his friends.

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