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HeartShare students train with Harbor Fitness

The HeartShare School got up close and personal with exercise on Wednesday, April 23 to mark the last few days of Autism Awareness Month.

“I wanted to teach the children a routine that they could use at any time,” said personal trainer Anthony Carucci, who led 12 students diagnosed on the autism spectrum around Harbor Fitness, a two-story Bay Ridge gym, allowing each of them to get their hands on some of the equipment.

“With these fitness skills, the kids can take action to pursue a healthy lifestyle on a daily basis,” he said, looking forward to spending more time with HeartShare down the road.

Following the one-on-one guided tour of upper, lower and full-body machines, students jumped right into an aerobics routine, including stretches, jumping jacks and push-ups – after, of course, a ride on the bike and a jump on the trampoline.

“This is amazing,” remarked one student, Robert, as he warmed up his muscles and got ready to take on Harbor Fitness’ mini-trampoline, similar to the one some students use in occupational therapy.

The faculty agreed.

“Harbor Fitness to have this class is so harboring because it means so much to the kids,” said Carol Verdi, the vice president of educational services at HeartShare and a member of the HeartShare family since 1982. “They’re so interested and it just gives them the opportunity to show their better side.”

Not only did the lesson in fitness help shape the students’ knowledge of good health but it also taught students the importance of socialization, inclusion and what it’s like to be a team player.

“Today was not only a lesson in healthy living, but also inclusion in the New York community,” Verdi continued, thanking Harbor Fitness for opening its doors to the HeartShare children and noting that, today, one in 68 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. “HeartShare is focused on providing individualized learning and therapies matching the needs of the child. However, we also continue to stress the physical and social benefits of fitness for children diagnosed with autism.”

Harbor Fitness, host of the Race for Autism on Sunday, April 27, was more than happy to host an afternoon with HeartShare.

“Our gyms provide a variety of classes and personal training, which are customized to the needs and interests of our patrons,” said Jodi Heywood, group fitness manager at Harbor Fitness, stressing that, while Harbor Fitness has hosted the Race for Autism since 2007, classes like these enable the center to make a difference in a more personal way. “Why not do the same for the children at HeartShare?”

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