Alicia Ellis
Certified Personal Trainer | Special and Adaptive Needs Personal Fitness Trainer

My name is Alicia Ellis. I am a Certified Personal Trainer at the Fitness Mill where I provide Personal Training Services to individuals with Special Needs. We have been partnered with the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council over the last three years. Together with the help and leadership of Kim Berg we’ve grown our outreach to become a foundation of fitness for people with Special Needs.

I have had the privilege of providing these services for three years. Prior to my work at the Fitness Mill I obtained my Personal Training Certification through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), in 2020. I continued my education through Certify Strong where I received my Level III certification for both individualized and group training for Special and Adaptive Needs individuals. My love and passion in Health and Fitness began when I started my own journey to lose weight and begin an overall healthier, and active lifestyle. Once my own goals were achieved, confidence pervaded. It’s this confidence that forms the bedrock of all fitness. A place to stand where once you could not.

Aside from Personal Training, I have been employed for five years in a High School Special Education. Previously, I worked at Upstate Cerebral Palsy with Special Needs individuals for seventeen years. During My employment at UCPI was able to volunteer at events such as The Special Olympics, Buddy Walk for Down Syndrome awareness, and Walk for Autism. My inspiration for working with Special Needs individuals came from my brother. He was born with Down Syndrome. From a very young age, I have been able to not only gain knowledge and experience from my brother, but have also been able to parlay that inculcation with our community.

The Fitness Mill has afforded me the opportunity to extend my personal training services for our local Special Needs population through their state of the art facility.Throughout my time at the Fitness Mill I have worked with individuals diagnosed with Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, ADHD, Epilepsy, Auditory and Visual impairments.

A client who comes to me with no restrictions, would a have a training program comprised of High Intensity Interval Training, Cardiovascular Training, and Traditional Strength Training in order to accomplish the common goal of body re-composition (reducing weight, reducing body fat percentage, increasing muscle mass).

A training program for an individual with Special Needs presents differently and oftentimes the goal is not standard body re-composition. Instead, the goals are often: 

Increasing balance Improving posture, Increasing range of motion Improving both gross and fine motor skills, also while improving strength, cardiovascular health, building confidence, and social skills.

Each of my clients has their own individualized fitness programs. I develop and base their programming on their goals, or their caregivers goals. They are first physically assessed so they can demonstrate their area of strengths and their weaknesses. For example, a client with a Down Syndrome diagnosis will have a demonstrably different program than that of an individual with Autism. Generally, with Down Syndrome clients their programming consists of having a goal of strengthening large muscle groups. However, individuals with Down Syndrome often tend to experience hypermobility and atlantoaxial instability in the neck. This requires very specific programming and modifications to many strength building exercises. Whereas, a client with Autism will have no movement restrictions and can be put on a Traditional Strength Training program with no Modifications. 

Over the course of the last three years, I have had the honor to watch each of my clients accomplish their myriad of goals and acquire new comprehensive skills. Many of my clients have gone from struggling to walk a lap around the track, to now running laps, I have seen a client struggles with walking and balancing to now walking independently on a balance beam while holding. Another client I have with very limited mobility has trained to complete the 9/11 stair climb. Not only have they improved physically, but socially as well. To say each and every one of my clients inspires me every time I work with them would be an understatement.