Our specialized team uses innovative strategies to successfully bring the benefits of exercise to individuals with autism and other special needs.
David Geslak (Coach Dave), B.S., ACSM-HFS, CSCS
Autism Fitness Specialist & Founder
Coach Dave began teaching exercise to children with autism and other cognitive disabilities in 2004. At the time, exercise wasn’t listed as a form of treatment. As Dave witnessed both physical and emotional breakthroughs in the students he worked with, he made it his mission to reach more children, adults and professionals. Dave soon began creating functional exercise resources, DVDs, books and the Visual Exercise System to empower others to do the same. People took notice. In 2012, The Autism Channel offered Dave a TV Show, and in 2014, Jessica Kingsley Publishers published Dave’s third book, The Autism Fitness Handbook.
Coach Dave is widely recognized for his affection to the autism community, dynamic presentations, and for the pioneering of visual exercise programs. The autism and special needs community have embraced Dave’s message and are especially encouraged by his results.
Coach Dave graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in Health Promotion. He is a Certified Health Fitness Specialist from the American College of Sports Medicine and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist from the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He was previously the Fitness Coordinator for Giant Steps, a school for children with autism, and the former Board Treasurer for the Autism Society of Illinois.
Ashley Palomino, M.Ed, NESTA
Special Education Teacher
Ashley has been working with individuals with autism and special needs since 2009. As a paraprofessional for high school students at Lyons Township, she assisted with behavior management, data collection, IEP goals, and inspired students to reach their social and learning goals.
When working with one of her high school students who had autism and was overweight, Ashley developed a personal exercise program for the student. Her program helped him lose weight and improved his behaviors and transitions. Since then, Ashley has made it a priority to make exercise a part of all her students' lesson plans.
Ashley has a Masters Degree in Special Education and spent two years as a Chicago Public School Teacher. She is now the Director of Programs at Exercise Connection. Ashley designed the “Teaching Tools” portion of ExerciseBuddy so exercise can be established throughout a student’s school day.
Jessica Geslak, M.S., CCC-SLP
Licensed Speech Language Pathologist
Jessica began her career as a paraprofessional in the high school program at Giant Steps, a school for children with autism. Giant Steps is where she first met Coach Dave. Using what she had learned from her Bachelors Degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences, she assisted students with speech therapy sessions.
After three years at Giant Steps, she began a Masters Program for Speech and Language at St. Xavier University. She graduated in 2013 and now serves as a Licensed Speech-Language Pathologist at an elementary school in Lombard, IL.
Jessica focuses on enhancing ExerciseBuddy to help improve language development for the students. But her toughest job, by far, is managing her now husband, Coach Dave.