One Volunteer’s Story

GiGiFit Adult Detroit

Rachel Eckert connected with GiGi’s through another great organization – the Miracle League of Michigan. Getting to know several families who have a child with Down syndrome through there, as well as having our Fantastic Friends Program Leader, Nancy Sovran, asking her to lead some group yoga classes, she decided to jump in!

Rachel is a personal trainer in Southfield and a group exercise and yoga instructor. She also was one of the brave souls who rappelled in our Over the Edge fundraiser!

When we received a grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund to start our GiGiFIT Adult program, Rachel stepped forward to lead the pilot. She learned the ins and outs of this signature program and sent us the following update that we think will inspire you!

GiGiFIT Adult Pilot Program Update

Here we are at the halfway point for our 10 week pilot session of GiGiFIT! The first few weeks have flown by, but the progress I see in our participants is phenomenal! On a physical level, I am floored by their abilities and willingness to try anything I challenge them with!

Let me share my thoughts and observations with you…

These Monday and Wednesday evenings have become my very favorite highlights of each week. It’s been so very special to reconnect with some of my old friends, as well as meet a few new ones. As individuals, I’m adoring each of them more every day that I have the pleasure of being with them. As a group, I’m so impressed with the way they interact and support each other. I sure hope that the spirit of GiGi’s will go with them for the entirety of their lives. Their friendships are so special and inspiring. All of the nerves and apprehension I initially felt kicking off these 10 weeks of fitness classes has completely dissipated, thanks to my special buddies.

GiGiFIT Adult DetroitFor the majority of the hour that we spend together, everyone is willing to engage in talk times, as well as our workouts. Our nutrition talks are lively and interesting, and in addition to finding out that Mary likes boys, Blake likes hamburgers, and Vashon eats salads, I’ve learned so many fun things about each of them. The early birds are more than willing to help set up – even without my asking, and I’ve never gotten one push back when it’s time to clean up.

I’ve placed little emphasis on the tracking, such as measurements and weight. I figure that those things can be followed at home, if desired/warranted. And I don’t want to place our focus on them in the class. They are doing this in a stellar way, so I know that our goals of strength, balance, and healthy lifestyle choices are really being achieved.

So, allow me to express my gratitude for entrusting your precious ones to me for this course, and for getting them to the Playhouse each time. I understand and support the fact that it is summer, and you’re going to have family and friend obligations. Attendance, in spite of this fact, has been excellent. I’m also extremely grateful to our helpers, whose assistance has been essential to our success!

Bring on the second half! I love the progress thus far, and I’m looking forward to seeing the great achievements ahead!

With much gratitude,


Do you want to experience personal inspiration and joy from volunteering here at our Playhouse?

We have a variety of places to volunteer. From supporting our Site Coordinator Kaitlyn with administrative needs, becoming a literacy tutor, to running or simply helping with any of our monthly programs – there are many ways to jump in!

Sign up to volunteer.

Sign up to become a Literacy Tutor.

Register for one of our monthly Volunteer Orientation gatherings – the second Thursday of the month at 7 PM.

What is GiGiFIT?

GiGiFit Adult Detroit

GiGiFIT programs combine physical therapy with a strong fitness focus and an ultimate goal of success and improved movement. GiGiFIT was created in collaboration with skilled Physical Therapists who work specifically with individuals with Down syndrome. The GiGiFIT programs are designed to address common issues for individuals with Down syndrome including hypotonia, excessive joint laxity, and decreased balance. Every GiGiFIT program is safe, effective, and progressive. GiGiFIT helps participants build strength, endurance, power, joint stability, balance, and movement control. GiGiFIT empowers participants to be more independent and confident in their abilities while improving their overall health and wellness.

We will be launching GiGiFIT Adult in the fall so stay tuned for more info. We also have plans for other GiGiFIT programs as we have the volunteers and funds to run them! If this program interests you, please sign up to volunteer through the links above!

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