New Indoor Gym Caters to Kids on the Spectrum

Jul 25, 2018
Courtesy of: Mary Topoleski

As the parents of a young child with autism, Jeff Kachuba and Mary Topoleski thought the Southern Ocean County area lacked an exercise facility that could cater to their son and others with similar needs. The couple took matters into their own hands by establishing We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym, which held a grand opening on July 14 at 299 Route 9 (Unit 4) in Waretown. We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym is a franchise with more than 50 locations nationwide. Waretown is the third in New Jersey, joining Audubon and Mount Laurel.

“And there are many more in their works, including one in Monmouth County,” said Kachuba. “We’re very happy to be part of a fast-growing organization.”

He said his 4-year-old, Nicholas, was diagnosed at age 2.

“Our motto is ‘Finally a place where you never have to say you’re sorry,’” he said. “Parents of autistic children might feel a little awkward if their child acts out at the store or some other place. But here, the staff understands, and parents don’t have to feel ashamed.”

The facility covers 3,800 square feet. Its main attraction is an indoor playground area, featuring a foam rubber surface. Some of the attractions include a zip line, climbing structures, crash pit, bolster swing, tunnel, carpet swing, trampoline, hammock swing and swivel rotators.

Topeleski said what distinguishes the equipment from typical playground attractions is that it is designed to help people with Sensory Processing Disorder, which is associated with autism. It causes difficulties with processing information from the five senses as well as the sense of movement. For those with SPD, sensory information is perceived abnormally, causing distress, discomfort and confusion.

“For example, our swings not only go back and forth, but side to side and circular as well,” said Topoleski. This “combination of movements (is) relaxing to someone with SPD and enables the child to function better during the day.”

Other gym features help with strength, endurance, coordination and balance.

“An indoor facility is safer for someone with autism,” Kachuba added. “If you took someone with autism to a wide-open playground or park, there’s a chance that they might take off. At our gym, the family knows that the child is in a safe environment.”

The gym also includes an arts and crafts area, and a small store featuring Melissa and Doug books and puzzles.

“We’re available for birthday parties, private play dates, school class trips and other special events,” said Topeleski.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 609-622-8285. —E.E.

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