Personal trainer, Mark Fleming, graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Exercise Science. He volunteered with the Special Olympics where he saw alarming fitness problems with participants. He saw that there weren’t many options for people with autism to stay active beyond the Special Olympics.
In 2016, Fleming developed an in-home personal training service for people with autism and related disorders. In March 2019, he opened his own gym called Puzzle Piece Fitness.
Fleming chose to name his new business Puzzle Piece Fitness because the puzzle piece has been a symbol of autism, reflecting the unique qualities of each person who is on the spectrum which he hopes to embrace in his new gym. He states to CNN “Just because I have autism doesn’t mean I know what they are going through, I’m very open with them about that.”
Some challenges that Fleming has faced, as well as many other businesses, is getting people to buy into his business. He explains that using word of mouth has been the most effective way of getting people involved. Fleming explains that just seeing people get healthy is amazing and wants to use his business to help people live their best lives.
Puzzle Piece Fitness is located at 12651 Race Track Road in Tampa and is sure to have a positive impact on its community. Fleming hopes that his gym will create more representation. Fleming is sure to be successful in creating an inclusive and fun environment for his clients.