Jul 8, 2020
In this episode, I am
interviewing Eric Chessen about fitness in the autism
Eric is the founder of Autism
Fitness, which is a fitness framework dedicated to providing fun
and meaningful fitness outcomes to individuals across the
How has your life, and business changed over the last
three months? (01:14)
says he has lived in New York his whole life. He and his wife
decided that it was time for a big change, so they relocated to
Charlotte, North Carolina.
relocated on the first of March, and three weeks later everything
changed. They had three autism fitness certification level one
courses coming up, which were two-day events. While hoping for the
best, they soon realized that they weren’t going to be able to do
and his business manager put their heads together and agreed on two
main concerns; one was purely from a business perspective, they
knew that they had to keep their revenue stream going. Their second
concern is that the valuable information they provide can’t be
found anywhere else.
goal is to provide the best possible fitness programming
principles, concepts, and strategies to the autism community. They
realized how important their information is to people and the
community, so they completely restructure their level one
now offer a four-week online course on Zoom. They have certified
professionals attending the Zoom calls. Doing the course online has
been proven to be more advantageous because they have more time to
spend on concepts and asking questions. They were forced into this
situation, but it resulted in the production of something that is
even better than the original version.
Do you agree that people will make the best out of our
current situation and that it may even become a more permanent
agrees that someone who has been successful in a space away from
home, also knows what it takes to be successful, even without that
looks at the psychology of choice; it has been proven that people
are not only fatigued when having too many choices, but they are
also never satisfied.
- People get confused when they have too many
choices. Ultimately they end up being unhappy with their choice
because there were too many options.
you start putting in constraints, it improves focus and eliminates
“noise”. When there isn’t a lot of choices, you pick one and go
the entrepreneurial-minded, it means making things happen even when
you don’t have a lot of options. You don’t have a perfect course of
action, but it eliminates a lot of variables.
Describe the type of people that enroll in your program,
what is the ideal? (08:34)
says the high caliber of people that enroll in the program
continues to astound him.
- Autism fitness certification is not something
you get into by accident. There’s almost a barrier to entry, and
they see a cross-section of the fitness and the wellness
people that enroll consist of fitness trainers, PE coaches,
physical and occupational therapists, speech pathologists, and
says the parents in the program are some of the most remarkable
people because they do this to empower themselves, as well as to
make it possible for other parents and families.
trainers consist of those who are really interested in working with
this niche population, but they need more guidance. There are also
trainers who have been approached by parents or schools to develop
What will I gain by doing your certification?
fitness professionals that take the course are already familiar
with the principles of movement, biomechanics, and exercise
difference between general programming, and programming with the
autism population, is that there are adaptive and cognitive
variables with the autism population. There are also physical
challenges involved because most of the autistic individuals that
they work with tend to have gross motor
says the adaptive and cognitive areas are where they really make a
difference for fitness coaches because they’re looking at adaptive
functioning as motivation. In other words, they assess the
athlete’s level of motivation to participate, and what steps to
take if the athlete isn’t motivated.
entire course is set up on a contingency basis, meaning that they
observe, and then react based on what they see. They provide
positive behavior support to a population that generally doesn’t
want to engage in vigorous physical activity.
they are trying to deliver through the course, is having methods
that work, and can be implemented immediately.
What personal challenges have you encountered on your
says his biggest challenge is listening to people’s
- Another challenge was transitioning into the
online world. He never wanted to do anything online but believes
that a lot of fitness professionals feel the same
comes back to the psychology of choice; if he wanted a viable and
continuous business he had to do it online.
started embracing it when the certified professionals, whose
opinions he values very much, came back after the first few
sessions and said that it was even better than the first
just had to listen to what people had to say, and believe them when
they said that the product he is producing now is better than the
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