BlindAlive.com

Accessible Fitness, more choices for more people

Fitness has always been a concern with regard to both mental and physical health regardless of age, gender, or any other variables that make each one of us unique. And for those in the blind community, fitness is every bit as much—if not more—important.

Exercise for the visually impaired is something that should be incorporated into a weekly, if not daily, routine for a variety of reasons that are both similar and different from people within the sighted community. For those with total loss of sight as well as for those who are low sighted, a lack of regular exercise can bring on a host of other issues, including weight gain, sluggishness, and perhaps worst of all for many, insomnia or a circadian rhythm that has been thrown completely off track.

A quality workout done at the right time of day and at the right pace to meet your unique physical and mental needs is just what the doctor may have forgotten to order. For many blind people, fitness has been a challenge: without someone to guide you and without the ability to drive yourself to the gym, it becomes obvious why so many visually impaired individuals give up—but with the BlindAlive line of Fitness Workouts for blind people, you’ll never have to depend on anyone else again.

Yoga and Strength Training with wieghts for blind people along with a variety of other cardiovascular exercises help our bodies stay toned, help us gain muscle mass and lose weight, but most of all, can help lead a blind person away from a sense of helplessness.

Are you ready to sweat? Come get healthy and leave all your notions of not being able to get fit due to your visual impairment behind with BlindAlive!

How To Take A Group Exercise Class With Low Or No Vision

I suppose it is pretty obvious by now that group classes are not my favorite thing. After all, I make audio fitness programs so I can help people avoid group classes. However, I understand that many people with visual impairments do want to benefit from the support and camaraderie that can be found in these settings. They also provide social interaction and they are motivating.

I have attended many group classes over the years. They have been mostly yoga, but I have gone to aerobics, mat Pilates, and body sculpting as well. Here is how I handled them.

First, I spoke to the instructor before class. I explained that I need to be as close to her as possible so that we can easily communicate during class. This may also help if you have enough vision to give you clues as to what is happening. It makes all the difference in the world if you approach the instructor with smiles and confidence. If you exude enthusiasm for his or her class and tell them what their job is where you are concerned, they will feel more relaxed with you. If you come across timid, they will catch that vibe from you and become timid themselves. They want to be told what you need. If you come across confident, it won’t occur to them to tell you “No”.

To tell the truth, fast moving group classes have always been humiliating for me. I don’t like them one bit. It is possible to do it though. Find a teacher who will spend some time with you outside of class so you can learn the moves. If an instructor is truly a devoted teacher, they will enjoy finding a way for you to join the class. I know this may be hard to take, but offering to pay them for some extra time can make all the difference in your success and their attitude. Showing them that you are committed will make them feel more like helping you. Also, a fast moving class requires more attention from the instructor and they will not be able to give u everything you need during class-time -- especially if it is a dance aerobics or step aerobics type class. I can pretty much guarantee you will feel lost at least once so if this is embarrassing to you, preparing is the key. 

I thoroughly enjoy attending yoga classes. I have had many instructors and all of them have been excited to work with me. Most yoga teachers are open minded and enjoy the challenge. It is better to try a beginner class first because talking and laughter are usually welcome. Make sure to place your mat right in front of or beside the teacher. Ask them to use directional terms like left and right, palms up or down, thumbs up or down. There are a lot of terms that you will need to help them figure out. Asking for clarification in a yoga class is rarely an intrusion. The teacher may find it easier to touch you or have you touch them. If this is a problem for you, you may need to get more creative with your directional terms. Many teachers are quite natural at describing, but  If you find a teacher that just can’t put words to movements, you may have better luck with a different teacher. There are many kinds of yoga, so give another type a try if your first experience turns out not so great.

Mat Pilates is also a slower moving type class. Pilates teachers are often good at describing. Because Pilates movements are often small, the teacher needs to be able to communicate what you are supposed to be feeling inside your body. They will often ask if touching you is okay. Make sure to ask them to tell you before they touch you. Do not hesitate to remind teachers over and over. They will appreciate it if they are good at what they are doing. A good teacher loves to get better at teaching so you can help them.

Many YMCAs or senior centers will have slower more low key classes. Ask as many questions as you can think of before joining. Find out how loud the music will be. Can it be turned down so you can hear well? Can you be assured of a spot near the teacher? Will there be any moving around the room such as walking in circles? Are there any support people in the classes that might be able to give you some extra attention? Most of the time these type facilities are equipped and are happy to work with you. Asking for what you need is key. Asking with a bright and friendly attitude is more likely to help you get your needs met. A curious an upbeat attitude will make them look forward to your participation.

Finally, A person wrote to me last week to tell me that by learning moves from the Eyes-Free Fitness® programs, it  helped her follow along in a group class. You could try learning at home first and then venture out to a group. I have tried to make sure that common exercise terms are used in most of our programs. This may make it easier for you to catch on to the requested move. Also, doing exercises at home will make you more familiar, which will in tern boost your confidence in a public situation.

Group classes can be lots of fun. I encourage you to be bold, ask for what you need with kindness and confidence and chances are good that you will have a positive experience. of course, I’ve got you covered with plenty of home choices if groups are not your thing. Smile.

You can find all of our home workouts on our website.

I am curious to hear about experiences you may have had with group classes. Please consider joining our email list, and tell us your story.

Good health to you,
Mel

 

BlindAlive - Creator of Eyes-Free Fitness® - Doylestown, PA 18901

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