Fitness in Community
Fitness/Exercise Training in a Health Club
This section will discuss the bulk of a fitness program, the exercise phase, specifically focusing on techniques for teaching individuals who are visually impaired or blind muscular strength and endurance training. The safest way to perform muscular strength and endurance training is to utilize a circuit of stationary machines. The machines may consist of a bench press, or a leg flexion-extension machines, a sit-up board, or a universal machine. The following are some strategies to introduce and instruct circuit training.
- Allow time for exploration: When introducing an individual to a machine allow time for tactile and/or visual exploration.
- Demonstration: The instructor should demonstrate the movement and link the movement to language, including the name of the exercise and muscle involved.
- Option to perform: The individual is encouraged to try everything yet, it is important that they understand that deconditioning can occur in as little as one to two weeks.
The following are some adaptations to the physical environment:
- Pictorials/Braille instructions: Allow time for the person to look at performance pictorials and/or the opportunity to read about it.
- Visual/Tactual perimeter: For safety, mark the perimeter of the exercise machines with rope or contrasting colored tape on the floor.
- Adaptations to equipment: Use large print, hi-mark and braille on/off switches. Vibrating timers can be worn around the neck or in the pocket.
- Number stations: Use large print, hi-mark and braille each piece of equipment with a designated number. You could also have a rope, tape or tactile guide from one piece of equipment to the next one.
- Record performance: The participant should have some way of recording number of repetitions and weight on each exercise so improvement can be documented and shared with physician.
The term aerobics means literally "with oxygen" or the "steady state transport of oxygen to the working muscles" (Shephard, 1990 p. 5). The fitness activity called aerobics involves sustained physical activity to a point where the body is utilizing oxygen. To achieve an aerobic intensity, the body generally has to utilize 60%-80% of it's maximum heart-rate over a period of time. To determine your working heart-rate, subtract your age from 220, then multiply that number by .60, .70, or .80 depending upon how hard you want to work. For example, Nancy, who is 32 wants to work at 60% of her maximum heart-rate. She would take 220-32= 188x.60=112.8. This means that Nancy's working heart-rate is 110-120 beats per minute. To ensure that Nancy is working up to this level, she would sustain an activity such as aerobic dancing, cycling, or jogging in place for 5-10 minutes. While continuing this activity, she would take her pulse for 6 seconds, then add a 0 to her pulse score and compare that to 120. If she came up with 14, that translates to 140 heartbeats per minute and she should slow down a little. If she came up with 10, that translates to 100 beats per minute and she needs to step up the pace a little to maintain her desired heart-rate. Try to sustain the working heart rate for over 15 minutes, preferably 30 minutes. Remember to start out slowly.
Some examples of aerobic activities include:
- Step aerobics: This is sustained stepping on and off a 4, 6 or 8 inch high platform at varying tempos and in different directions. This type of activity is adaptable to any level of ability. If an individual can not step onto a step he/she can do the same activities without a step.
- Low impact aerobics: sustained activity keeping one foot on the ground at all times. You can march with high knees, kick to the front, bring your knee up and clap under your leg, march in place and bring your arms up and down, do toe touches to the front, right and left, or just walk briskly around the room. As long as the individual is moving and keeping his/her heart rate up this activity can be executed successfully by anyone who is ambulatory.
- High Impact aerobics: This is sustained activity with both feet leaving the floor at some point during the movement. You can do jumping jacks, kicks to the front, jog in place, bring your knee up and clap under your leg with a jump with the other leg, pendulum leg swings out to the sides, side jumps and front jumps alternating directions, etc..... An individual obviously has to be in condition to sustain this activity for a long amount of time.
- Wheelchair aerobics: This is aerobics done in a wheelchair. The individual moves his/her arms up in the air, out to the sides, punches down, or twists at the hips for eight counts or more to elevate the heart rate. If the individual can move his/her legs they can move their legs at the same time as their arms. The idea is to increase the heart rate and amount of energy expenditure. Any amount of movement can elevate the heart and if this is continued for over 5 minutes it is considered aerobic. Make sure the point is to elevate the heart rate and have fun!
- Others: Any activity which brings your heart-rate up for a sustained period of time is considered an aerobic activity. Cycling, running, swimming, walking, or aerobics can accomplish this.
Physical assistance and/or Brailling (Lieberman & Cowart, 1996)
This can be used when the individual does not have enough vision and/or hearing to understand the movement. The physical assistance and brailling needs to be explained so the participant will know what to do. The instructor can then simplify all the moves to one touch cue or a sign cue that the participant will understand. An example would be if the instructor wants the participant to march in place as part of a low impact aerobics routine. Once the concept is understood the instructor does the sign for soldier, or taps the individuals knee to signal marching. The participant now knows he will march for eight counts then a new cue will be given for the next move.
The instructor can also set up routines so that one eight count move is always followed by the next eight count move and so on. This will depend upon the ability and level of condition of the participant. Once the moves are understood the instructor should try to fade out the touch cues for physical assistance and brailling to promote independence.
These activities can be enjoyed with or without music. It is much easier to practice them without music first, then add that variable when you so desire.
The above is taken in part from: Lieberman, 1999