Sterling Heights fitness center aiming to improve lives of people with special needs

Nonprofit Inclusively Fit has scholarship options
Posted at 5:56 PM, Apr 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-06 23:17:57-04

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. (WXYZ) — A fitness center in Sterling heights is transforming the lives of people with special needs.

The owner of Inclusively Fit, Mark Ralko, says the facility is helping clients physically, mentally and most importantly giving them hope when they need it the most.

Twenty-one-year-old Alex Duley is legally blind, has depth perception challenges and is on the autism spectrum. But one thing he has that many don’t is the willpower to succeed.

Duley's parents Kim and John were getting emotional seeing their son this happy.

"Just think it's so important for the community, and Alex is so excited. And he just wants to be here and he is falling in love with Mark," Kim Duley, Alex's mom, said.

Mark Ralko, 36, left his teaching job a couple of years ago to become a trainer to understand the fitness business with the goal of opening this place dedicated to helping folks with special needs.

"A lot of times when a parent has a child with a disability, they don’t think exercise is an option to them because lots of local gyms don’t service to people with special needs," said Ralko, the owner and executive director of Inclusively Fit.

So far, there are 85 members signed up at this 6,300-square-foot gym that is making a huge difference within the community.

"Our title is Inclusively Fit — everyone deserves a chance. We are not going to judge what kind of disability you have, everyone deserves an opportunity to come here," Ralko said.

As Alex worked on his fitness, Kim and John can see the impact of the gym on their son.

"To be able to let him exercise and get fit and learn mobility and hand-eye coordination, it will be forever lasting," John Duley said.

A one-on-one session is priced at $45 an hour and the buddy workout is $50 an hour, or $25 per person.

Inclusively Fit is a nonprofit organization and they are always looking for donations, so they can better the program and make it more affordable by providing scholarships to approved members. For more information, visit inclusivelyfit.org.