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2019 'On The Road' update: Mark Fleming

The Tampa man was the first person with autism to open a gym for clients with autism in the nation. Our story helped get the national media's attention.
Credit: Bobby lewis

TAMPA, Fla. — I was surprised to see a CNN Health website feature story posted on March 7, 2019. It had a photo header with a familiar face. It was the face of Mark Fleming.

I’d just done a story on him two days earlier.

Mark is a Tampa man who has his own gym for people with autism. CNN did a story on Mark because, well, they saw our ‘On The Road’ story on Mark. He said he was stunned to get a phone call the morning after our story aired from a CNN writer. Apparently, good news travels.

I initially went to meet Mark because I found him compelling. He was the first person in the nation with autism to open a gym for people with special needs. He is a charismatic and very smart guy. Those are two big reasons why news coverage helped quadruple his business in 2019.

At the time, his business was called Puzzle Piece Fitness. He’s since re-branded to Equally Fit, to remind us that anyone is capable of anything despite any challenges they face.  

It's clear 2019 was a banner year for this man with autism, and 2020 is looking even better.

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