Gym Classes for Children with Special Needs

“I never realized my child could do that”

At Dave Rabb’s Children’s Fitness Center we hear that happy and proud exclamation often from guests willing to allow their 2 thru 5 year old to climb, hang, swing and tumble at our stimulating and unique facility. We have 36 years of experience, offering a proven program that develops strength, balance, agility and coordination. Your child will become more confident, able to meet the challenges that face any developing child. And….. IT’S FUN !

The Children's Fitness Center has developed programs for youngsters with Special Needs.  Children, 18 months and older, who have been identified to be within the Autism Spectrum, in addition to those with developmental delays, will find challenging activities in small groups, individual sessions or mainstream classes.

Then dress for fun – it’s a hands-on experience

Special Needs (ages 2 years thru pre-teen in Individual, Small Special Group or Mainstream)

A primary goal of our Gym Program is to provide meaningful, challenging, and fun filled activities in a non-clinical setting for children (ages 2 years thru pre-teen) within the autistic spectrum as well as for children with developmental issues. Our activities are appropriate for children without physical limitations.

Years of experience has shown that vigorous “workouts” which address strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility, when presented with enthusiasm and encouragement, not only increases a child’s fitness level, but has a very apparent influence on improved confidence. We realize that self esteem cannot be “taught,” it must be acquired through positive experiences in which success depends upon effort and obtainable goals.

The Children’s Fitness Center is an attractive playscape which invites countless opportunities to hang, climb, slide, swing, balance, jump, and tumble; as it is rearranged every week to provide exciting new experiences in order to improve motor planning ability.

Each class session follows a consistent format of activities that address the child’s specific needs with a variety of skills.

Within a short period of time, the child will acquire a wide repertoire of skills along with an increased desire to use them.

After an initial visit by the parent and child, individual, small special groupings, or mainstream classes are arranged for each student. Most children 2 thru 5 years old with special needs participate with their parents in our mainstream Kiddy Fit classes. Most sessions are scheduled for once a week and no concurrent activities take place during the child’s session.

Concerning our approach

We respect a child’s need to have clear and consistent instruction that is realistic and within his or her ability and potential.

We combine firm behavior standards with warm, non-contrived, praise.

We realize that children can sense the confidence we have in ourselves as well as with them.

We built our gym in 1976 and we continue to learn from the children, to grow within ourselves, and to continue to enjoy the journey.

We see our work towards a child’s growth and development as just one of the many services that parents seek for their children and we try our best to use our skills and abilities to make a meaningful contribution to a child’s development.

The Children's Fitness Center is a vendor for the local Regional Centers.

Contact the Department of Developmental Services -- Phone: (916) 654-1987 -- Web:


Dave Rabb is a one-man miracle. I know that firsthand, because I had the joy of watching him and my son, Jacob, interact for several years in his gym. Dave taught Jacob to aim high, not to settle, and not to surrender. Jacob learned to move his body effectively, to balance himself and to achieve goals that seemed impossible at first. Despite struggling with Autism, Jacob blossomed with Dave's magical combination of high expectations, nurturing support, and empathic teaching. And I got to be a happy dad - each week watching my son climb a little higher and stand a little taller.

Vice President, American Jewish University

I have known Dave Rabb and his Children's Fitness Center for about 25 years, when our son took classes there. He was an infant at the time and he loved attending his weekly gym class, which he attended for several years. Our son loved to climb, flip, and swing; so his energy was channeled in an appropriate direction. First and foremost, he learned how to engage in gymnastics in a very safe manner. In addition to learning new skills, he developed self confidence in the use of his body as he grew and developed. As an adult, he still remembers the positive experiences that he had at the gym.

Also, I have received feedback from families whose children have special needs. They feel that Dave speaks clearly to their children, is structured, and also supportive. Frequently, they tell me that their children explore the equipment and, often to their surprise, confidently master new skills. Consequently, they believe that the gymnastics program has had a wonderful impact on the lives of their sons and daughters.

I certainly feel that other young children will receive a positive benefit from participating in Dave's gym for children.

Susan Bacon
Special Educator and Family Therapist

We currently have three children enrolled in Dave Rabb's Children's Fitness Center. Our boys have gained so much confidence and strength from participating in these classes. Dave and Marilyn have created an amazing environment for our children to play and grow. The program has been especially instrumental in helping our 5 year old son who has special needs. I credit many of his successes to the time he has spent working at with Dave at the Gym. The physical limitations of his disability have improved so much that it is hard to remember just how impacted he once was. We are so thrilled to have found this wonderful program!

Renay Compere