Hitting the Gym: My experience as a blind patron.
Walking into the gym for the first time, felt rather daunting; especially since I had no idea where I was going or how I would be able to use the equipment. Once I found how friendly the staff were, I not only learned my way around the facility, with help, but the employers had no problem, allowing me to label any machine I wish to use. I asked questions about the offered classes, and even spoke with the instructors about the classes they taught. I started out with the cycle class, and Yoga. I simply spoke with the instructors on the many positions used during their class, and had them show me what to do. I also explained to them that I have no problem with them touching me to assist with correcting my postures if I am doing them wrong. I also had them call out each move or pose so that I would be able to keep up with the rest of the class.
I am a huge fan of swimming, and when I found out about the pool, I jumped in right away. I swim three times each week, and do about 90 laps. Everyone there are so friendly, and more than happy to help me out when I need it. I even chat with the members who attend, and have fun with those who are sharing the pool with me.
Being blind has never discouraged me from keeping fit. Its all about confidence, and feeling comfortable with yourself. You have to advocate for yourself to explain what you want and work collaboratively with the instructors on the best way to enjoy their class. Don’t worry about feeling or looking silly. Everyone around you feels the same way in the beginning. Soon you will be the experienced one in the class providing tips and support to new patrons.
Its all about feeling comfortable in your surroundings, and finding something that you enjoy. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or help. That’s what gym staff are there for.
If you like Ann’s post and want to read more, check out her blog at www.blindoholicsinc.blogspot.com.
WE Fit Wellness Top 5 Tips for Hitting the Gym as a Blind Patron!
- Get a thorough tour of the gym. Call ahead and schedule a time when there will be a staff member available to give a thorough tour of the facility. If they say things like “the cardio room is over there” or “the women’s locker room is under the big W” ask clarifying questions to make sure you have the information that you need. Getting a good tour does not mean that everything will make perfect sense the next time you come in so feel free to ask for help when you need it.
- Many gyms offer a free personal trainer session. Use this session to make sure you know how to properly use the equipment in the gym. If you want to lift weights have the trainer help you learn to use each piece of weight equipment (proper form, how to adjust the weights, how to adjust machine positioning, etc…) There are visual signs that tell sighted people this stuff so getting someone to show you a non visual technique is absolutely reasonable. If you want to use cardio equipment have the trainer assist you with learning where the buttons are and labeling the machines if necessary.
- Don’t be afraid to participate in classes! If you want to participate in some of the group fitness classes make an appointment to speak with the instructor before class. Ask the instructor to give good verbal cues throughout the class. If there are some basic moves or poses that are involved in most every class ask them to teach you so that you are already ahead of the game. Tell the instructor to feel free to reposition you if you are doing something incorrectly.
- If you do not feel comfortable finding an open piece of cardio equipment like a treadmill (sometimes it is hard to tell if they are in use when there is a lot of background noise) ask someone at the desk to help you find a free one. It will take them 2 seconds and they should not mind at all.
- Be patient. You may not know everything in one day but keep coming back. You will feel comfortable and confident in the gym in no time.