Fuse45 co-owner Jeffrey Friedman works with Lauren on the resistance bands

Fuse45 is partnering with Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) to provide affordable exercise classes for children, teens and young adults living with autism, Down Syndrome and other developmental challenges. Fuse45 offers these classes, called Fuse[FORCE], at two locations — Royal Oak and West Bloomfield — on Saturday mornings and Tuesday afternoons.

“JVS is partnering with Fuse45 to help spread awareness of this great program, which aligns with our commitment to helping people engage in their communities,” said Kirk Jude Goddard, JVS vice president of Habilitation Services. “The support of generous donors allows us to offer the classes at a lower rate, making them accessible for more families.”

Fuse[FORCE] classes were inspired by Julie Zorn, a client of the gym in search of a healthy activity for children with disabilities.

“Both of my sons have autism, and I knew other parents who were looking for healthy programs for their children with special needs,” said Zorn, a Fuse45 client who proposed the idea for the new classes.

Karen Kelman and Samantha Friedman, mother-and-daughter owners of Fuse45, welcomed the opportunity to work with Zorn to develop classes that would challenge and encourage participants with developmental challenges.

“We learned very quickly that teaching these kids physical fitness was really no different than teaching our neurotypical clients,” Friedman said. “They require instruction, care and motivation like everyone else.

“The response has been amazing,” she added. “The improvements we’ve seen in physical fitness, participation, interaction, task fluency, teamwork and self-confidence have been incredible.”

Zorn said, “This is my favorite hour of the week: seeing my children and other children I’ve known for years participating, interacting and thriving in a fitness class, and being encouraged to do the workouts like any other person.”

These classes are expanding and welcoming children, teens and adults from the community to take part, get fit and have fun with new friends. There are opportunities for teens and adult volunteers to encourage and workout alongside participants.

Fuse[FORCE] will hold its first annual fundraising event on Wednesday, Sept.13. For more information, email info@fuse45.com. Find class schedules and enrollment information at bit.ly/FuseFit.