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Bodybuilding Is The Best Autistic Special Interest You Can Have

Ok, I might be slightly biased here, but hear me out. I hand on heart think bodybuilding is one of the best special interests you can find as an Autistic person. Here's why!

Sam Barnes Lifestyle ftm Transgender Online Coach Autism

The Obvious

First off, the obvious benefits of taking up a gym based hobby (not just bodybuilding) is the positive impacts on your mental and physical health. These of course are relevant to everybody, not just those who are neurodiverse. Regular exercise has been proven time and time again to have a positive impact on mood, and of course exercise also plays a huge role in physical health as well.


It's Your Choice Who You Train With (and that includes nobody)

I played football between the ages of 5 and 13, and the main reason I had to quit was because I was finding team sport harder and harder to be a part of. Having to rely on others to win and also just generally having to be social was proving to be too much for me. This was one of the reasons bodybuilding became my next choice. You can train by yourself, or you can train with your friends or family, it's completely up to you.


What I also love about the gym is the fact I'm around people (so I don't feel lonely), but I don't have to interact with them. There aren't really many other situations in life like that.


You also have the option to make new friends, or even just find people to say hi to when you see them. This is what I've found I have now. I don't have any friends in the gym, but there's always people saying hello to me, and asking me how I am.


Improves Social Anxiety

When I first started going to the gym at the age of 14, my social anxiety was at an all time high. I couldn't leave the house by myself, I couldn't pay in shops, or order at restaurants, so the idea of going to the gym on my own was a big no, so I started going with my dad.


He was essentially like my stabilisers. At first I needed him all the time, but after a while I would wander off and do my own thing, until eventually I was going to the gym by myself. This wasn't a quick process (it was years!), but I got there in the end.


My new found confidence in the gym spread to day to day tasks as well, and helped me to find the confidence to start going out on my own.


There's Very Clear Rules

There's certain rules that apply to all gyms (that doesn't mean everybody always follows them, but I promise you they are there). These include:


- Signing in and out of the gym

- Putting your weights away when you have finished with them

- Giving people space/ not talking to them when they are in the middle of an exercise

- Not hogging a machine (especially if you're only sat on your phone)

- Wipe down your kit after you have used it, especially if you've got sweat or water on it


Having clear rules tends to make me feel safe, and this is generally the case for most people with Autism. Focus on yourself, not everyone will always follow the rules (same as outside of the gym), but as long as you follow them you know you're doing everything you are supposed to.


Helps You To Tune Into Your Body

I struggle with Alexithymia, this means it's difficult for me to describe what emotion I am feeling. Even though I'm not working on emotions in the gym, I am having to tune into my body and think about how I'm feeling. This could be making sure I'm feeling an exercise in the correct place, or gauging how challenging an exercise feels. At first this was very difficult for me, but over time I've been able to tune really well into my body, and I've found I've been able to use this new found ability to help me with the bodily sensations emotions give you as well.


It's All About Routine

The gym is all about routine, and doing as much of the same thing as you want. This includes following the same workout plan every week, using the same machines every week, following the same workout order each week, the list could honestly go on. But you're also in control here, and if you fancy trying something new, you always have the option.


Going to the same gym every time is also a big help here. You learn where everything is, you know the staff, and you even start to recognise the same faces each week. It's like using the same supermarket for your shopping. It helps you to feel calm, safe and in control.


Lists

Very specific here, but I love a good list (even more so if it's with pen and paper, I'm not into using tech for my lists!). If you love a good list like me, I promise you bodybuilding is the sport for you, so get your best pen and paper out!


Special Interests & Career Options

If you're enjoying going to the gym, and decide you want to take it further, there's a ton of subjects you can research into further when it comes to bodybuilding. You have the option to go down the exercise route, and look closer into biomechanics. You can go down the nutrition route, and start learning more about calories, food types, food for performance, etc. The options really are endless. Plus, if you're really enjoying it, you can look into making a career out of it. I feel so lucky I'm able to take one of my special interests and use it to help others, whilst also making a living. Whether it be personal training, online coaching, physio, or sports science, there's a ton of different paths you can go down, all because you love training!


I think that's covered the bulk of it... but I'm certain there's a whole heap more to uncover!


The top and bottom of it is that exercising in general is important for everyones mental and physical health, so I encourage you to find something in the gym you love doing, and stick at it!

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