Exercise Connection Autism vs Special Needs Certification

The huge employment gap in many industries is palpable. Autistic people are stripped of many untold opportunities due to their disability. This issue has been recognized by many fitness institutions and offered adaptive exercise. The purpose is not only to help them lead a healthy lifestyle but also to help them get job opportunities.

If you want to be part of this meaningful community, you need to get certified first. A certified adaptive fitness instructor can benefit from numerous job opportunities once you finish your education.

But with so many adaptive fitness certifications available online, which is the best program for you? When it comes to this, Special Needs Certification and Exercise Connection Autism are indeed reliable programs.

Exercise Connection Autism vs. Special Needs Certification: which is better between the two adaptive exercise certification programs? Let’s take a closer look at each program to find out what suits you best when jump-starting your career in the adaptive fitness industry.


Why Should You be an Adaptive Fitness Instructor?

An adaptive fitness trainer is someone who is certified to develop an adaptive fitness program and work with the disabled population. They know how to activate and provide a disabled body’s needs without compromising their safety.

There’s a reason why adaptive certification programs are being held all over the United States. Slowly, adaptive fitness centers are popping out everywhere. More and more professionals aspire to become an adaptive fitness instructor. But why? Here are the following reasons that are worth considering if you want to enter the adaptive fitness industry:


Better serve your community.

Becoming an adaptive fitness trainer is the best way to better serve your community. The special population needs professional adaptive fitness trainers now more than ever. These professionals are trained to offer safe spotting techniques to their special clients and new adaptive exercises.


Promote inclusive sports.

Often, the special population is discriminated against and not included in different sports events. Two decades ago, The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed into Congress. This act aims to help disabled people to benefit from equal work opportunities. However, this act lacks the fitness aspect. Not many gyms are welcoming to the special population, and not many adaptive fitness professionals are available to train them. Getting certified is the best way to promote inclusive sports. Helping them to become fit and lead a healthy lifestyle will increase their opportunities and improve inclusivity in sports events in the future.


Engage with the community.

Engagement with the community plays a pivotal role in advocating for inclusivity in fitness. The core belief that fitness should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their physical or cognitive abilities, underscores the importance of making fitness environments inclusive. This inclusivity means that special populations, including individuals with disabilities, should enjoy unrestricted access to fitness programs tailored to their needs. By becoming an adaptive fitness trainer, one effectively joins a progressive movement aimed at promoting universal access to fitness, thereby championing the cause of equity in physical wellness.

The current landscape, where many gyms and fitness centers lack adaptive fitness programs, raises critical questions about the inclusivity of our fitness culture. Furthermore, the scarcity of trained adaptive fitness professionals underscores the widespread need to address this gap. Addressing these concerns requires a collective effort. It involves questioning the status quo and pushing for systemic changes that acknowledge and cater to the diverse needs of all fitness enthusiasts.

When more individuals, including fitness professionals and gym owners, become engaged with the issue of adaptive fitness, it fosters a more inclusive atmosphere. Such collective action is instrumental in breaking down barriers and ensuring that fitness truly becomes accessible to all, thereby paving the way for greater equity within the realm of physical fitness. This movement not only benefits individuals who directly benefit from adaptive fitness programs but also enriches the fitness community as a whole, promoting a more inclusive, understanding, and supportive environment for everyone.


Find more job opportunities.

Do you know that adaptive fitness trainers are in demand? Due to their low numbers, there are many gyms and organizations that are looking for a qualified adaptive fitness trainer. If you are already a personal fitness trainer, you can broaden your scope of training and offer extra services to your clients.


Tips in Choosing the Best Adaptive Fitness Certification Program

Here are some tips that can help you narrow down the best adaptive fitness certification program for you:


Be wary of the adaptive fitness industry’s wild west.

Before you start looking for a certification program, you need to be aware first of the adaptive fitness industry’s wild west. Getting certified as an adaptive fitness instructor is different compared to other career fields. For instance, before becoming a professional nurse, you need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination—Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) first. This examination is regulated by a national organization.

However, the adaptive fitness industry is unregulated. That means there are no laws that regulate the certification programs of these organizations. Any organization can design their own program and certify you as they please. As a result, many “certified” adaptive fitness trainers are incompetent and put their clients at risk.

Hence, it’s crucial to do a background check of the organization before you apply for their program. If you are going to invest your time and money, it might as well be in a highly-recognized and credible organization that follows the protocols and have high safety standards.


Check the course preview.

Before applying to their program, it’s crucial to take a look at the course preview first. It is to make sure that you are not spending your money on the wrong certification program. What are the contents of the course? Who is the author, and what is his background?

Make sure that you are applying to develop skills you cannot learn from books or look up online. The course they offer should be valuable to you and your journey in becoming an adaptive fitness trainer. That being said, be wary of certification programs that do not offer course previews.


Consider personal factors.

As much as possible, choose certification programs that are advantageous to your current situation. For instance, evaluate your existing knowledge, educational background, and available time for studying. As much as possible, choose a program that offers an online course. It would be easier for you to get the certificate if you can study anytime and anywhere you want.

If you have a specific gym in mind, you might as well check out if they offer certification programs. Some people learn better with an in-person workshop, while others prefer an online course. If you have a job as of the moment to finance your continuing education, it is better to apply for an online course due to the convenience that it offers.

Remember that the certification process can take from three weeks to six months. Some people start studying even before they purchase the exam to secure their pass. Lastly, make sure that it is within your budget. Check all the expenses and make sure there are no hidden fees before you apply for a certificate program.


Choosing the Right Certification Program for You

Here is an in-depth overview of the certificate programs that are worth checking out—Special Needs Certification and Exercise Connection Autism. Take a closer look to help you decide which one is most suitable for you.


Special Needs Certification

Strong Education has proven its credibility in the industry time and again. The program offers inclusive training for special needs and other conditions, including down syndrome, spina bifida, autism, and cerebral palsy. It means that the training you will get from Strong Education is applicable to many disabilities and not just autism. The program is heavy on teaching research-based techniques to ensure the safety of the clients under your care.

The program also helps you learn techniques for training an individual versus training in a group setting for more effective learning. When you finish the course, pass the exam, and get certified, you’ll be able to benefit from a wider range of services now that you can cater to clients with different conditions.

Rest assured that you are in good hands with Strong Education. The company has over 76 years of education experience. The knowledge, techniques and learning materials are continuously updated to help you reach your goals of becoming a certified adaptive fitness trainer. Trainers worldwide have completed over 850 courses, and currently, the program is titled to 13 national and state accreditations.


About Strong Education

Overcoming unique challenges that come with being different from others can be a long, terrifying journey. This is what happened to Daniel Stein. At the age of 21, he has been diagnosed with a mood disorder, autoimmune disease, and learning disability. It wasn’t an easy life for him, but he managed to improve the quality of his life through exercise. Upon his success in fitness despite the disorders, Stein decided to continue helping other disabled people lead healthy and happy lives.

Stein worked on getting his certifications from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), and the National Federation of Personal Trainers (NFPT).

In 2016, at last, Stein launched Strong Education. Back then, it is one of the few adaptive fitness centers for disabled and mentally-challenged individuals. The gym has been a huge success ever since then. Today, Stein works with inclusive fitness training, trying his best to make a profound difference in the lives of disabled individuals.

Strong Education aims to boost the strength and confidence of the disabled community through exercise. Despite the cognitive and physical challenges, there is still a chance for a better quality of life that can be obtained through adaptive fitness training. The brand is working on its vision to become one of the leading innovators in the adaptive fitness industry and provide an adaptive model that disabled individuals can enjoy in an inclusive environment. Hence, they offer a certification program to anyone who aspires to become an adaptive fitness trainer.


Why Choose Special Needs Certification?

Undoubtedly, Strong Education offers one of the most affordable yet highly-recognized certification programs to become a certified adaptive fitness trainer. The program is accredited with over ten organizations, making it easier for you to snatch the job opportunity you’ve always wanted. Not only that, preview courses are available for free. That means you will have a glimpse of what you are about to learn when deciding to invest in this certification program.

When it comes to pricing, you have the liberty to choose among flexible zero-interest payment plans that are available. Take the course with confidence as Strong Education has a 90% passing test rate. This inclusive, adaptive training program will not only focus on one disability, unlike other certification programs. It ensures that you will have multiple jobs offers to choose from, and wherever you go, you will never run out of opportunities.

Strong Education also recognizes the different learning styles of the students. The program offers various learning materials such as text documents, training videos featuring real adaptive special needs clients, and other sources.

For any questions or clarifications, you may contact their 24/7 active customer support. Rest assured that the team will guide you step by step into becoming a certified adaptive fitness trainer and thrive in your career.


How does Special Needs Certification work?

No experience with adaptive training before? Don’t fret! Special Needs Certification program is easy to understand and complete. Here’s a quick overview of how the program works:


1.  Register for the course.

Purchase and register for the course. There are coupons of up to 50% off, especially if you are a first-time buyer. You may want to check the free course preview first before registering. An authorization email will help you create a profile and set up in the Strong Education online database.


2.  Take the online course.

The course is done online for your convenience, which means you can take it anytime and anywhere you want. There are text documents, video materials, and interactive learning sources for your training to become a certified adaptive fitness trainer. It is designed to help you coach disabled people accordingly and with confidence. As mentioned above, even if you have no prior experience in adaptive training, the course is easy to digest and apply in real life.


3.  Design your own adaptive exercise program.

After finishing the course, you can access tools that will help you to design your own adapted workout program. It also challenges how you manage certain behaviors of your clients. If you ever need help in your program’s design and application, the support team is always one call away.


Strong Education is a good choice if you want to start your career as an adaptive fitness trainer and enter the industry. There are so many opportunities for you as an adaptive fitness trainer and your special client once you become certified. With Strong Education, you are not only making a living, but you are also making a profound difference.


Exercise Connection Autism

David S. Geslak is a former student assistant strength coach in the University of Iowa Football program who experienced a rewarding moment after making a nine-year-old autistic boy skip following that his parents failed to do so for two years. After that life-changing experience, Geslak realized that he had never made a real, profound difference in his entire career until now.

Soon, David S. Geslak started working with the autistic population, training rigorously until they can lead a healthy lifestyle. Throughout his experience, Geslak learned that exercise would not only help them to stay in shape; it also helps them to improve their confidence and social behaviors. The trainer had witnessed different physical and emotional breakthroughs with his students. To further develop his skills, he developed a fitness program called Giant Steps that aims to transform autistic children and adults’ lives in 2009. With his hard work and perseverance with the autistic population, Geslak is now a pioneer in using autism exercise to improve the lives of his clients.

Giant Steps is now offering Exercise Connection Autism. This program aims to train people on how to challenge autism with exercise and reach the breakthrough. Thanks to its excellence and renowned structure, the program has been adopted by nine universities from Canada, Russia, Egypt, Barbados, and Dubai. The program has partnered with the largest exercise science organization in the world that aims to create a Certificate that will educate different professionals from all over the world to design autism-ready protocols.


Is Exercise an Effective Treatment for Autism?

Families of autistic people are exhausting all means to help their loved ones lead a better life despite their differences. However, due to lack of knowledge, most of them are led into thinking that therapies can help their autistic children even without back-up research.

Exercise, however, has been proven to help autism in different, numerous studies. For someone who has been diagnosed with autism, exercising will not only help to keep them fit and healthy; it also helps to improve their memory, focus, social skills, behaviors, and language development.

Furthermore, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that all autistic students receive physical education. As they have special needs, most of the schools are struggling to provide for such needs. Students are often left behind in PE and have little to no knowledge when it comes to executing exercises.

However, if you become an Autism Exercise Specialist, you can make a difference to these wandering students. Opening your door to them will not only change their lives but yours as well. This certificate is a rare chance for you to impact your client’s lives and help them become healthier and happier in the long run.


Why Work with the Autistic Population?

The CDC report reveals that one in every 54 children in the United States is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). At this rate, boys are four times more likely to be autistic than girls.

For people with autism, mobility is a huge challenge to them. However, numerous studies have proven time and again that exercising and leading an active lifestyle can improve their memory, focus, confidence, and stereotypical behaviors. This program will help you better understand the autistic population, recognize different learning styles, and handle them accordingly. This will train you to become a successful and effective Autism Specialist. Working with autistic people is fulfilling and also generates a steady source of income in the long run.


How Does Exercise Connection Autism Works?

The program is designed to train individuals to become autism specialists. It trains you to empower autism and special needs through exercise. The program’s main purpose is to promote a community and develop an up-and-coming workforce from the autistic population.

There are workshops conducted by Coach David S. Geslak, together with his staff, to attend. First, you will learn the realities of working with children and adults who are diagnosed with autism.

The comprehensive workshop is divided into different parts. You will participate in live demonstrations and learn the different exercise techniques while exchanging ideas with your co-trainees. The workshop is open to aspiring autism specialists, trainers, therapists, parents, and paraprofessionals.

At the end of the workshop, you are expected to learn everything you need to know about autism exercise. You should be able to develop your own visual exercise program that you can later on use with the autistic children and adults you are going to train.


Exercise Buddy App

Exercise Connection Autism is also known for its innovative Exercise Buddy app. This system is strategically designed to help professionals, educators, and parents. Everything you need to know about autism exercise is only a click away.

The system is easy to use and digitized, which means you can access it anytime and anywhere. Thanks to its convenience, many universities, professionals, and parents with autistic children are enthusiastic about using the Exercise Buddy app.

David S. Geslak wanted to make sure that the learning materials are at the tip of your fingers and easy to access. Hence, the development of this application.

The Exercise Buddy app is heavy on teaching autistic children how to exercise properly. Often it is the source of frustration and lack of confidence for many autistic people. The application aims to assist you in training an autistic individual to properly execute workouts and autism exercises designed specifically for their disability.



According to the 2017 SHAPE America APE Teacher of the Year, Lara Brickhouse, the EB application is useful as it can offer numerous resources that can be used in different practice opportunities, curriculum and increase skill acquisition. A physical therapist from the Illinois High School District 86 added that the EB is now an integral part of engaging their students in physical therapy. It also helps them to execute their PE classes.

specialstrong-trainer and his client

Autism Exercise Specialist Certificate

Despite the ongoing pandemic, you can still earn your certificate through an online course. For the first time in Giant Steps, they are now offering the Autism Exercise Specialist Certificate through virtual interaction.

David S. Geslak wanted to maintain the integrity of their one-day, six-hour, in-person workshop and has converted it into a three-hour virtual workshop. The team worked on adding more case studies, videos, and group activities for your references. You can work and earn your certificate from the comfort of your own home while collaborating with other aspiring autism specialists. To make this virtual workshop possible, Coach Dave has worked with experts in autism, behavioral therapists, and exercise to help him create the certificate program, hoping to bring change to the autism community.


Who is Qualified for the Certificate?

The program is as inclusive as possible. Here are the following applicants who are qualified to apply for the program:

  • Physical Education Teachers
  • NCCA Accredited Fitness Professionals
  • Special Education Teachers
  • Adapted Physical Education Teachers
  • Behavioral Therapists
  • Physical Therapists and PTA’s
  • Recreational Therapists
  • Occupational Therapists and COTA’s
  • Nurses
  • Speech-Language Pathologists

If you are one of the above-mentioned, make sure that you still have your current license. Also, the workshop only accepts applicants who have a good standing in their industry.


Online Modules

The first step to getting your certificate is completing the online learning modules. You need to register on the ACSM’s ceOnline platform and attend the five live webinars. There are two articles and research that you also need to read before you can proceed.

Once this step is completed, you can proceed to the next level. You will receive an email containing your Certificate of Completion. This is what you’re going to use for your in-person workshop. The organizers only permit participation in an in-person workshop for those who have completed the online modules. The program wants to ensure that you have the foundational knowledge before attending the workshop to better understand the concepts that you need to apply later on in your autism-friendly exercise program.

Here’s a quick overview of the online learning modules (webinars):

  1.       Autism 101
  2.       Evidence-Based Practices
  3.       Modified Client Consultation and Assessment
  4.       Autism Exercise Program Design
  5.       Program Management and Development


In-Person Workshop

After completing the online modules, you will get your chance to meet Coach Dave in person for a six-hour dynamic workshop. This workshop aims to educate, engage, and prepare the participants in training autistic children and adults. Rest assured that these concepts fit any environment, whether it is for the gym, fitness centers, schools, homes, or other organizations.

The workshop is engaging and fun, consisting of multiple demonstrations. You will also learn a variety of exercise techniques and share ideas with your co-trainees.

This workshop aims to mold you and become a certified autism specialist. Whether you are a PE teacher, therapist, or personal fitness professionals, you’ll be able to gain new skills that will be integral to your visual exercise program later on. When you get the certificate, you can start working with the autism population and make a difference.


Exercise Connection Autism vs. Special Needs Certification

It’s crucial to choose the right certification program that will suit your needs, considering that you’ll invest your time and money in getting certified. Here’s a comparison of Exercise Connection Autism and Special Needs Certification that will shed light on helping you choose the best program.


Special Needs Certification Exercise Connection Autism
Reasonable Pricing Reasonable Pricing
Interest-Free Financing Options Limited Financing Options
Inclusive to Other Disabilities and Conditions Autism Only
10 Accreditations 9 Accreditations
Free Course Previews No Course Previews
No Need to Travel Travel Required to Attend the Workshop
No Application Exercise Buddy Application
Easy to Apply

Offers a Virtual Training

Easy to Apply

Offers a Virtual Training

Different Adaptive Training Autism Exercise Only


Due of its lower cost and flexibility, Special Needs Certification is preferred. You can finance your continuing education yourself or ask your company to. Special Needs Certification allows one-year payments, whereas Exercise Connection Autism has few possibilities.

Travel to the workshop is waived with Special Needs Certification. Exercise Link Autism might meet trainers in person, but not. Some live far away, therefore staying home to get certified is better during the epidemic. It makes Special Needs Certification more appealing.

You may review and train anytime, anyplace. The majority of learning resources are online. Unlike ECA, learning via travel and workshops is the only option. It can be inconvenient if you work or have other obligations.

Special Needs Certification may grant you employment in numerous industries. You will become a professional adaptive fitness trainer who can work with problems beyond autism. In contrast, ECA targets autism only. After their program, you can only work with autistic people.

Globally recognized schools improve job possibilities. Passing the exam earns CEUs and CECs from ISSA, NASM, and ACE.



Special Needs Certification can offer more benefits than ECA. If you want to learn and get certified from the comfort of your own home, save money, and earn national accreditations, this program is the right choice. However, if you prefer a face-to-face demonstration and wouldn’t mind traveling to meet your coach and bond with your co-trainees, you may choose the ECA. The bottom line is choosing the most suitable for your lifestyle and current situation. After all, even with the differences, these certification programs are designed to help you become a special needs trainer and make a change in the lives of disabled people. What are you waiting for? Register today!

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