A psychology major with background as a personal trainer, athletic instructor and support counselor for disabled adults,Jared Ciner channeled these passions into the Spirit Club Foundation with an eye toward creating and opening up
health and fitness opportunities for people with disabilities. Founded in April 2013, the Spirit Club offers group and individual exercise and socially inclusive programming that teach its participants to adopt healthy and active lifestyles.
Ciner was recently introduced to the Good People Fund (GPF) and received an opening grant of $5,000 to support his efforts. GPF is an organization rooted in the Jewish tradition of tikkun olam (repairing the world) and offers financial support and mentorship to small, effective initiatives in Israel and the US.
Ciner grew up in Denver where he attended Jewish day school,was actively involved with the Denver JCC and spent a year studying and volunteering in Israel. He credits his parents’ deep connection to Judaism and their encouragement of Jewish practice and values as having had a huge impact on his life today. His father, Denverite Sheldon Ciner,DDS, is a mohel.
The summer after college, Jared Ciner spent one month in Ethiopia volunteering at a school for children from severely impoverished backgrounds. While there, he organized sports and exercise activities for them. The experience inspired Ciner to pursue a profession that would include fitness for underserved populations. After receiving a BA in psychology from the University of Maryland and certification as a personal trainer, he began working as a support counselor for people with developmental disabilities.
Within one year created the Spirit Club. He now lives in Bethesda, Md. “After speaking to Jared we knew that his unique focus on this type of service for people with disabilities was something we wanted to be part of,” says Naomi Eisenberger, founder and executive director of GPF. Eisenberger had just returned from a visit with Ciner and Spirit Club members. “We support Jared and Spirit Club’s successful efforts to bring access to fitness and overall well being to this often overlooked community.”
Spirit Club members attend hour-long classes each week instructed by at least two certified personal trainers. The classes open with interactive themed exercises that give each member a chance to introduce himself or herself. The activities incorporate different types of fitness equipment, such as medicine balls, resistance bands, stability balls and agility ladders. All members are provided with portfolios to track their progress throughout the week. The classes conclude with a review of home health assignments, healthy snacks and time to socialize and consult with the personal trainers. Spirit Club’s co-founder, Sam Smith, a proud man with autism, is also a certified strength and conditioning specialist. Smith’s goal is to motivate others with his passion and enthusiasm for health and fitness.
Ciner says,“We are excited to now be part of the Good People Fund’s circle of grantees. “The demand for our services continues to increase and this assistance will enable us to offer fitness and health programming to people with disabilities throughout Maryland.”