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Reaching new heights

Hometown Trainers instructor Jerry Devone works with Chavonne Sessoms. The fitness company is one of the only in Pennsylvania that offers in-home personal training for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

By Melissa Yerkov

Wire Executive Editor

It was initiated to make fitness more accessible.

But it has evolved into something much bigger.

Hometown Trainers was created in 2004 as a way to make exercise more convenient. The concept is simple: a company that brings the gym to you. But now, nine years later, the idea of home training is only part of the company’s success.

The brainchild of owner and president Howard Schulze, Hometown Trainers has since expanded to become one of the only companies in Pennsylvania qualified to train clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“Someone called in 2006 and explained that their son was autistic. I never trained anyone with autism, so I did the research and saw that there was very little available for people with developmental disabilities,” explained Schulze. “Hometown Trainers was not going to ignore that population.”

By that point, Hometown Trainers was already operational for two years and had developed a decent clientele during that time. The business originated in New Jersey, but soon expanded to include Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs.

“It’s a fantastic concept and we’ve grown. We are very interested in expanding our services even more to residents in Pennsylvania,” said Schulze. “We are currently working — with the help of the University of Pennsylvania’s “Assert Outreach” program — on becoming a service provider with the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare Services Autism Education Department.”

Hometown Trainers currently works with approximately 50 clients, and more than half of those people are intellectually or developmentally disabled. All personal trainers within the company are certified and have extensive experience.

“The hardest part of my job is to find trainers who have experience with training people with developmental disabilities,” Schulze explained. “There are hundreds of certifications out there of various complexities. Some are better than others. It’s really an unexplored area when it comes to certifications for working with people with developmental disabilities.”

Schulze explained that just as every client is different, every personal training session is unique as well. Hometown Trainers offer a wide variety of in-home training, including weight management, as well as balance, coordination and flexibility training. Regardless of the individual goals, the overall purpose of Hometown Trainers is the same — to increase consistency.

“I’ve always been very passionate about fitness and nutrition,” Schulze explained. “I was a trainer in a gym and I noticed people would always show up right after New Years. You could set your watch to it. Then, midway through February, only the regulars were going.

“For someone to be successful, you have to be consistent. Consistency is the key for anything in life… that and hard work,” he added. “Because an experienced professional is coming to your home, the client will be more consistent. He or she will do the right exercises in the right form and that’s what it takes to be successful.”

For more information on Hometown Trainers, visit www.hometowntrainers.com or call 1–800-hometown.

Melissa Yerkov can be reached at myerkov@bsmphilly.com

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