It’s no secret that health and fitness are important to me (in case you don’t know, I present my history of playing goalball and running). One of the challenges of working out and being visually impaired is that it’s often a challenge to find someone to effectively describe techniques so that exercises can be performed safely. I’ve been fortunate in many ways, but not everyone receives helpful instruction in posture or physical education, and many blind people aren’t given the tools to exercise effectively and safely.
Enter Mel Scott of BlindAlive!
Mel, 50-something, lives in Pennsylvania. She spent 30 years as a massage therapist and believes in the importance of fitness. She was diagnosed as a child with Retinitis Pigmentosa, and currently still has some vision (though she prefers to navigate the world with Jingles, her guide dog). Using that vision to read or watch videos, however, is no longer an option. Mel grew increasingly frustrated by many workout videos that show exercises but don’t describe them, leaving her to guess at her form. One day, while riding her exercise bike, she just thought “Stop whining and create it yourself!”
BlindAlive is “proud to have created a user-friendly, completely accessible solution to exercise and fitness” that can be done in the home. All of their exercise products have been tested by blind and low vision individuals to ensure that they are completely accessible.
Currently, there are twelve workouts available in audio (no video required!) in a variety of formats. Yoga, Pilates, bootcamp and other workouts can be digitally downloaded or shipped via CD, thumb drive or SD card.
But it’s more than just workouts. BlindAlive also boasts a blog, podcast and strong social media presence. Mel describes it as creating “more choices for more people.”
Mel hopes to continue to build on her basic workout library, to increase the intensity alongside the fitness of those who take advantage of the basic workouts. Her “basic” workouts can be made more challenging by increasing weights or intensity, so there’s plenty to keep the body challenged. In the immediate future, another yoga workout is in the works, and a whole-body stretch and a balance workout are coming soon. Mel says there are other surprises, but shhhhhh, she can’t tell!
We all have excuses for not working out. It’s too early, too cold, we’re too busy… but “because I’m blind” should not be one of them. Mel and her BlindAlive team have created a library of descriptive workouts that can be enjoyed by those with or without sight. So no more excuses! Hit the gym!