Personal Training For Those With Special Needs

The struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle is challenging for everyone, and it can be especially challenging if you have special needs. The JCC Fitness Center and Aquatics Center are committed to accommodating exercisers with special needs whenever possible.

Physical activity has many benefits for children and adults with special needs, including

  • Allows for release of positive or negative energy
  • Builds self-esteem
  • Improves social interaction
  • Improves focus and function of daily living skills
  • Weight loss if needed
  • Can reduce anxiety
  • Have fun while getting fit

Individuals with physical or developmental disabilities requiring assistance may be able to exercise with one of the JCC's Certified Personal Trainers. There is a fee for this service. For details, contact personal trainer Linda Thompson at lindat@svjcc.org.

Here is a testimonial from a family whose autistic son has been working with Linda:

This testimonial begins at my last hope. I had taken my autistic son to nearly every other gym in town, searching for that right person who knew how to get him motivated and functioning. (He) was 210 pounds of flabby frustration. We knew he would feel better if he could expend some of that pent-up energy and work off some of that notoriously bad diet, typical to autistic children, but how to get him to comply was another ballgame entirely. I had tried to take him myself; that was a disaster! He would literally run from machine to machine causing more of a disturbance on the floor than anything else. He was still unfocused and lethargic and it was exhausting for me.

Then we found Linda. Not only does she understand (him) and his sometimes quite challenging condition, she knows how to get him to use the equipment properly and focus on an actual workout. The results have been amazing! After about three months (he) can now endure 45 minutes of intense cardiac training, as well as follow directions in the pool, and even join in a spin class! He has lost 10 pounds...He looks and feels better, and sleeps better, too.

Linda has been the motivational tool and skill set for which we had been praying. We are so thankful to have found the JCC and Linda Thompson to train our special needs child! It is yet another concern for parents with special kids to stress about the health and fitness of their loved one. We can not thank her, or recommend her expertise, enough!

Sincerest Thanks.
Jennifer and Thomas B.

(Autumn 2013)

A testimonial from someone whose elderly parents have been working with Linda:

Linda has been working with my parents for one year.  They meet once a week for 30 minutes and the results of their time at the APJCC Fitness Center are amazing!  I am so grateful for the time and energy Linda has given to my parents.  She has added so much more to their lives than just an improvement in their fitness--it is a complete improvement to the quality of their lives!

My parents have been very active their whole life.  As a child, I remember watching them both do their morning exercise routines in the living room.  My aunts and uncles would always make comments to my dad about how fit he was, and how he was always full of energy!  Unfortunately, my father was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease about 5 years ago.  This has been a very difficult time for me and my family.  Slowly, my father's mobility and quality of life began to decline.  The demands of becoming a caregiver were also very hard on my mother. 

At first, my parents were very reluctant to work with a personal trainer.  My dad thought he couldn't do anything in the gym and my mom thought it would be too expensive.  As soon as my parents met Linda, I could see how receptive they became to the idea of working out with her.  Linda's warm personality and her great sense of humor won my parents--they made plans to meet with her the next week.  They've been going strong for a whole year!  They now look forward to meeting with her not only for the workout, but also to spend time with their new friend.  

The entire APJCC has been welcoming and encouraging to my parents.  The security guard knows them by first name.  All of the Fitness staff are friendly and helpful (especially when my dad needs help getting around).  Even other members have stopped to take the time to encourage my parents, congratulate them on their progress or just say hello.  Watching them have this great experience makes me very proud to be a part of this community center.  It is wonderful to be able to share it with them.  

None of this would have been possible without Linda.  Besides being a very knowledgeable trainer, she CARES so much about her clients. She is able to challenge my mom --who now brags about how she is lifting weights and doing TRX!  She encourages my dad and makes him feel good about what he can still do--not what he can no longer do.  Each week I look forward to meeting them after their training and hearing about what they did that day.  It has brought all of us closer.  I cannot thank Linda enough for all of her help and support!

- Sylvia L.
(Autumn 2013)

From a member who has a physical disability and was recovering from heart surgery:

I believe that my health has greatly improved because of the JCC and I look forward to many more years of utilizing the facilities. My personal trainer, Linda Thompson, has been absolutely wonderful in working with me and helping me train. She is totally indispensible to both my past and future success. The JCC is very fortunate to have a person of her high quality on their staff.

- Leo K.
(Autumn 2013)

From a member who is a doctor and senior scientist at UCSF Medical Center:

My husband was diagnosed as atypical Parkinson’s 3 years ago.  He has speech problems, he had difficulties walking more than 200m, his co-ordination was impaired, he stopped driving which made him depressed, he was unstable on his feet. ...As it is well known that physical exercise may help people with similar conditions, we considered physical therapy.  However (my husband) was not very keen about it and went couple of months mostly to please me.  As we have been members at the JCC for a couple of years, I decided to inquire whether this institution has someone who might work with my husband.  He agreed to try.... All I can say is that it was a blessing.  Linda is a trainer, therapist, psychologist, friend, all at once.  (How) things have changed. (My husband) has a 1-hour session 4 times a week and in the course of a year he has improved his balance and coordination, he can walk up to 2-3 miles, his focus is (better, and more) importantly, he likes to do it, so he will never miss the session.... It became his routine, contact with healthy people in a nice and friendly atmosphere.  This is to say how much I appreciate what Linda has done and is doing...


- Olga G.
(Autumn 2013)



The APJCC is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that welcomes everyone. We rely on generous donations to continue serving our community and those in need. A beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley and a proud member of the JCC Association of North America. This website copyright 2014 Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center of Silicon Valley.

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