Personal Training for People with Down Syndrome

My Personal Coaching Style – Training for Down Syndrome


I take a personalised approach to training people with Down Syndrome. From my years of experience I have found that a personalised approach works best as exercise can depend on the person not just their Intellectual disability.

In the past few years, I’ve worked with many people with Down syndrome, learning from fantastic exercise professionals and hands-on experiences. I’ve figured out unique approaches that are fun and effective. While training plans, verbal cues, and a welcoming environment might look a bit different than usual, it’s important to remember that everyone is different. So, not everyone can follow the same exercise approach.

What is Down Syndrome, and Why Does it Require a Specialised Approach?

Down syndrome is an intellectual disability that occurs when an individual has an extra chromosome, causing delays in both mental and physical development, and an increased risk of health problems.

A typical gym training plan consists of a range of exercises detailed on a page with specified reps and sets. In my experience, providing individuals with Down syndrome with such plans proved challenging. They often struggled to recall exercise names, techniques or follow reps and sets accurately. Through trial and error, I’ve discovered a more effective approach.

Individuals with intellectual disabilities enjoy engaging in colourful, creative, and enjoyable exercises plans with visuals. This helps them connect exercise with a fun experience that they can follow rather than just a means of improving their health.

I help people with Down Syndrome plan and physically mark off what they complete in the gym as this provides them with a sense of control and self-confidence. This simple interaction makes them feel powerful and like they can do it on their own.

In terms of verbal cues, it’s important to keep instructions simple, repeat them when needed, and use visual cues or demonstrations. This helps them understand better. Patience and positive encouragement also play a key role in making the training experience more successful for individuals with Down Syndrome.

In my experience, building a connection by understanding music taste, hobbies, and becoming a friend is crucial for success. Once trust is developed over time, I’ve observed a notable increase in engagement, making their sessions much more enjoyable.

When training a person with Down Syndrome, there are a few distinct characteristics to consider. This list is not exhaustive, but hearing problems, balance issues, sensory problems are a few of the common issues we face as coaches.

So, if someone has trouble hearing, it’s important to look at them while talking and speak clearly. If there’s music in the gym, lower the volume, even though they usually enjoy it during workouts. My rule is to keep the music as loud as they want during exercise but lower it when we’re explaining or talking.

In terms of balance issues, incorporating some balanced based exercise into their plans works best. These can still be fun and engaging and help with improving their balance.

When it comes to sensory issues, the most important thing to do is to get to know them and learn their sensory preferences and dislikes. For instance, sensitivity to light, sound, touch, and textures. Once you know, you may adjust the environment to see what works best for them.

How I Train People with Down Syndrome

Download This Free Training Card from a previous plan for one of my clients with Down Syndrome

Why it worked well for this specific client:

Visually Appealing: The plan incorporated the client’s favourite colours, pink and purple, making it visually appealing for them.
Clear Instructions: The plan allowed the client to easily see what they had to do, including tracking the number of reps and sets for each exercise.
Laminated for Durability: The plan was laminated, ensuring longevity and enabling the use of a whiteboard marker to mark completed tasks in purple boxes.
Practical Tracking: The client could cross off sets and reps after each exercise, providing a practical way to monitor their progress.

Tailored Personal Training Programmes for People with Disabilities in Waterford

Contact us for more information and we’ll explore some training opportunities. We can be reached at or at 0892688001.