Review of The Autism Fitness Handbook by David Geslak

The Autism Fitness Handbook

The Autism Fitness Handbook: An Exercise Program to Boost Body Image, Motor Skills, Posture and Confidence in Children and Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder is a book written by David Geslak that covers a wide range of topics from exercise to self-esteem. It’s divided into easy-to-follow sections including “Engage” (how to build relationships with the client), “Educate” (how to set up a program), “Empower” (success stories), and of course, “Exercise” (examples of workouts for children with autism). This book, released in 2015, is a groundbreaking take on fitness and how to adapt it to those who are differently abled. Geslak makes fitness inclusive and accessible to all trainers in his work.

Let’s summarize the book in parts:

Part 1: Engage

This section covers how the trainer can engage with the client and, therefore, how to teach the client to engage with their own body. It’s about introducing the idea of fitness to the client by growing self-esteem in them and building a relationship with them. We’re especially fond of this section because it reminds the reader, likely a personal trainer themselves, that the client is a person first. Everyone’s fitness journey is unique, regardless of their physical or intellectual abilities, and it’s important to remember that upfront and meet the client where they are in order to make progress.


Part 2: Educate

Part 2 of The Autism Fitness Handbook is for the personal trainer’s education. This is where the reader learns The Five Components of Physical Fitness, how to set up an individualized program for their clients, and how to create an exercise schedule that their client can read and understand. If you’re a personal trainer yourself, then it’s pretty likely that you’re a do-er. You probably understand the importance of organization and paperwork, but it’s not your favorite part of the job. Geslak clearly outlines the hardest part of being a trainer, making it easy and — dare we say it? — fun.


Part 3: Empower

Part 3, the “Empower” section, is arguably the most important part of The Autism Fitness Handbook. This is the part where readers meet inspiration, where the author spreads hope in the form of everyday success stories. Fitness is achievable for all, and Geslak can prove it. He does exactly that in this incredible book. Through the stories of Adam, Anthony, Ben, Derek, RJ, Rachel, Bill, and Roan, Geslak makes it clear that a little hard work and a lot of commitment can go a long way.


Part 4: Exercise

While this wonderful book wouldn’t be what it is without the preluding three sections, the “Exercise” portion is the meat and potatoes, the heart and soul. It starts with a section on body image, making sure the client understands all the parts of their body and familiarizes themselves with it. Oftentimes, clients with autism live sedentary lifestyles, so it’s important that we make sure, as trainers, that the client understands their body well enough to follow directions and understand when something doesn’t feel quite right.

From here, Geslak expands into five additional sections that zone in on different parts of the body for a well-rounded fitness regimen.


With sedentary lifestyles come posture issues. They’re practically one in the same. Once you have helped your client feel connected to their body, you can then help them correct their posture. Geslak advises his readers to instruct their clients to do calf stretches, hip extensions, the yoga posture downward-facing dog, and more.


Motor Coordination

A wonderful benefit of exercise for those with special needs is improved motor function. Geslak shares some exercises that are specifically targeted to help in this area, like catching large and then smaller balls, crossover marching, ladder drilling, and more.


Muscular Fitness

Building muscular strength and endurance is pivotal for overall health and requires targeted training. According to Coach Geslak, incorporating resistance training through the use of dumbbells, bands, and medicine balls is essential for muscle development. Dumbbells offer a versatile tool for a wide range of exercises that can target different muscle groups, allowing for the customization of training plans. Resistance bands are excellent for both beginners and experienced athletes, providing varying levels of resistance that can accommodate progression and regressions as needed. Medicine balls add an element of weight to movements, increasing muscular demand and improving strength. By advising clients to use these tools in their training, Geslak emphasizes the importance of a comprehensive approach to muscular fitness, focusing not only on building muscle mass but also on enhancing muscle endurance, enabling clients to enjoy a more active and robust lifestyle.


Abdominal Strength

Additionally, it’s worth noting that having a firm core is not just about physical appearance. Rather than solely aiming for a six-pack or winning at body-building, the focus is on creating inner balance and stability. Engaging with their core allows clients to feel more secure within their own bodies. This sense of security can lead to a reduction in behavioral outbursts and foster inner calm. To facilitate this achievement, Geslak has several recommendations. He suggests teaching clients the Superman Series for comprehensive core engagement. Additionally, he recommends push-up holds, commonly known as planks, and partner crunches to strengthen the midsection. Lastly, Geslak endorses “Elbows ‘n’ Toes” exercises for enhancing core stability and muscle endurance.


Cardiovascular Fitness

Cardio is a crucial element of fitness, but it must be a priority for your client if they are overweight. Rather than simply asking your client to run, Gaslak suggests various types of running that can be fun and playful. His approach encourages a dynamic and engaging fitness experience. First, however, he introduces the mechanics of running. Sometimes, when things come easily to us, we forget how to instruct others to follow our lead. Going back to the basics is an important part of teaching. From there, the author recommends treadmill exercises, cone running, exercise biking, and jumping on a trampoline.


5 Stars

We loved this book, and we think you will too. You can purchase the ebook for less than $15 and the paperback for less than $25 on Amazon. But enough about our opinion! Have you read the book? What did you think of it? Tell us all your thoughts in the comments below. Share this blog post on social media to get a healthy debate going!


Want to Specialize in Special Needs?

After learning how to better assist clients, you may decide to specialize in working with people with special needs. Welcome to the club! When you sign up for the certification course with Strong Education, you’re embarking on a journey to help everyone — not just the physically and intellectually able — attain a healthy, happy lifestyle. Check out our two fitness certification options to learn which one is right for you.


Unveiling The Autism Fitness Handbook: A Comprehensive Review

Navigating fitness for individuals with autism can be a unique and rewarding journey. The Autism Fitness Handbook by David Geslak stands out as a valuable resource in this realm, offering insights, strategies, and a thoughtful approach to promoting physical well-being for individuals on the autism spectrum.

1. Tailored Approach to Fitness

Moreover, Geslak’s handbook emphasizes a personalized and adaptive approach to fitness for individuals with autism. Additionally, it recognizes the spectrum’s different demands and abilities, providing a framework that may be adjusted to individual’s specific requirements. Furthermore, the handbook promotes an adaptive and personalized approach to fitness for individuals with autism.

2. Practical Strategies and Exercises

The handbook offers a plethora of practical strategies and exercises specifically designed for individuals with autism. From sensory-friendly activities to routines that enhance motor skills, the book provides a rich array of exercises that cater to various sensory preferences and challenges.

3. Inclusive and Supportive

Additionally, The Autism Fitness Handbook’s supportive tone is complemented by a variety of practical strategies for promoting fitness among individuals with autism. Furthermore, fitness helps individuals with autism feel accomplished and confident, therefore Geslak’s focus on empowerment is important.

4. Expert Guidance

Furthermore, as a leading expert in the field of autism fitness, David Geslak brings his extensive experience to the forefront. The handbook reflects Geslak’s profound understanding of the unique needs of individuals on the spectrum. In addition, it offers practical advice and evidence-based approaches tailored to their specific requirements.

5. Comprehensive Resource for Caregivers

Caregivers, educators, and fitness professionals can benefit from the comprehensive nature of the handbook. Helping people with autism get fit is made easier with this helpful guide. It gives them the information and tools they need.

6. Encouraging Independence

Moreover, The Autism Fitness Handbook goes beyond just physical exercises. Thus, it encourages the development of skills that foster independence. Additionally, by incorporating activities that enhance coordination, motor planning, and self-regulation, the book contributes to the holistic well-being of individuals with autism.

In conclusion, The Autism Fitness Handbook by David Geslak stands as a valuable and accessible guide for anyone involved in the fitness and well-being of individuals on the autism spectrum. With its tailored approach, practical strategies, and inclusive philosophy, The Autism Fitness Handbook emerges as a noteworthy resource. It positively contributes to the pursuit of health and fitness for individuals within the autism spectrum.


Strong Education teaches personal trainers and service providers on how to adapt fitness and nutrition for children, adolescents, and adults with autism, Down Syndrome, and other disabilities through our online adaptive special needs certification course.

Tell us where to send your FREE guide:

Enter your Email to Receive a 10% OFF Coupon and Download a FREE Sample Exam

Floating 10% Coupon Form

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • 10% off coupon for any certification program
  • Preview our multiple choice sample exam
  • Be the first to know about new monthly adaptive courses
Sale Extended! SAVE 25% & Start for $1!
email tick

Thank you for your interest in Special Strong

One of our local special strong trainers will reach out to you shortly.

Please take a look at this video to know more about what to expect in a training class. Also join our Facebook and Instagram community where we highlight stories of our clients overcoming challenges to live an abundant life. We hope to highlight your story soon.

email tick

Thank you for your interest in Special Strong

One of our local special strong trainers will reach out to you shortly.

In your area we provide virtual in home training. Please take a look at this video to know more about what to expect in a training class. Also join our Facebook and Instagram community where we highlight stories of our clients overcoming challenges to live an abundant life. We hope to highlight your story soon.

Thank you for your submission. Check inbox for coupon code.