A new gym in the Twin Cities gives all kids more opportunities to have fun.
For a parent, finding a safe space for a child on the autism spectrum to play, can be difficult. But Kris Baran found that in Normal, as a new gym specializing in just that, opened on Saturday.
“We’ve participated in other gyms before, and sometimes we’ve had to leave because the equipment or the time and the space just wasn’t made for them,” said Kris Baran, who has a child on the spectrum. “But here, they have everything they could ever want. Especially my son who is on the spectrum.”
“We Rock the Spectrum” is a gym for all children, but is geared toward children with disabilities. It’s the first gym of its kind in Central Illinois.
“Everything in our gym is sensory based,” said Tricia Lambert, Co-Owner of “We Rock the Spectrum.” “We have a zipline, a trampoline. We have all of our swings that some of them swing, some of them they can get wrapped up completely in. We’ve got swings for little ones, we’ve got swings for middle aged kids, and older kids.”
Along with the wide variety of sensory equipment, the gym also has an art center and calming room for the children to use if they need a break from the hustle and bustle of kids running around.
“The calming room here really helps because sometimes my son just has a lot of anxiety, he gets very nervous, it’ll get too loud, and he just needs a break from his own emotions,” said Baran. “And so the calming room gives him a place to do that safely.”
Baran said it’s great to have a community of parents who have children with different disabilities, to relate to and interact with. She said it gives her children a chance to share experiences and support.
“In some places, I feel like I have to apologize for the natural behaviors of my son,” said Baran. “But here, they’re expected behaviors. And so he can just interact and have fun and do what he needs to do, to best regulate himself.”
The gym costs $12 per child, and $10 per sibling. They plan to host date nights in the future, where parents can drop their kids off at the gym, so they can go enjoy a date.