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Woman with autism opens sensory-safe personal training studio for people on the spectrum

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A Western Michigan University graduate with Autism Spectrum Disorder is opening a sensory-safe personal training studio for people on the spectrum. (WWMT / Hannah Knowles)

A Western Michigan University graduate with Autism Spectrum Disorder opened a one-on-one personal training studio for kids, teens, adults and seniors with ASD.

The Autism Wellness Center of Southwest Michigan, located in Portage at 210 E Centre Ave., is a sensory-managed “autistic sanctuary.” It was accepting 20 registrants for the 6-week Fall Autism Wellness Clinic.

Erin Beal, the owner and operator of the clinic, graduated from WMU with a degree in rhetoric and writing. She pursued a career in communications before being diagnosed with ASD at age 30, and then wanted to help others with ASD.

“Being on the spectrum myself, and having lost 35 pounds, I know what it's like to deal with sensory difficulties, anxiety, insomnia, and struggling to build healthy habits,” Beal said.

Beal was earning her master's degree in Developmental Disabilities at Teachers College, Columbia University, and worked as a wellness staff and personal trainer at the YMCAs of Greater Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.

“First-hand experience, along with my education in autism studies and work in fitness instruction, has given me a unique expert approach that I’m excited and honored to be able to share with the greater Kalamazoo community,” Beal said. "Clients can come here, have fun, and do whatever they want in an environment that's sensory managed to make them feel comfortable and secure."

To apply for the Fall Autism Wellness Clinic, contact Erin Beal at emb2289@tc.columbia.edu.

The clinic was expected to begin Monday, Sept. 21.

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