A Circuit Training Program for People with Visual Impairments
Curves® offers a 30-minute circuit training fitness program designed to provide a cardiovascular and strength-training workout using hydraulic resistance and a women-centered design. Members are able to transfer quickly between machines without having to make adjustments to weight and positioning. The theory behind the Curves® design is that because machines are strategically placed in the circuit, members do not have to worry about overworking a muscle or missing a muscle group during the workout. The upper, middle, and lower muscle groups are all addressed in the circuit and a final component of stretching is also performed, all of it taking just 30 minutes. Ashley Pennock, a former student in Disability and Human Development at UIC and Fitness Technician at Curves®, works with two women with visual impairments that inspired her to share their stories of success through this program.
Diane Wheeler and Sonjia Joiner, who have both been blind since childhood, were encouraged by their respective physicians to exercise. When they started looking for a facility, they were not greeted with a willingness to work with them in order to create a program that would be adapted to their needs. Diane and Sonjia both found Curves® to be very open to working with them and, unlike what many may think, found that there were few or no adaptations necessary in regard to the workout itself. The only accommodation necessary was to increase the training period in order to ensure that the women were able to transfer between stations successfully and safely. In April 2008, Diane and Sonjia began their very first workout program. Ashley reports on their experiences below:
- Diane came to Curves® with no previous gym experience. Before contacting them Curves®, she had called a popular commercial gym but it wasn't able to provide one-on-one assistance in training. Diane then went to a gym specifically for people with visual impairments, but it was crowded and she felt "special." Diane claims that she was nervous at first, but now loves it. She does not feel segregated and feels like she belongs. Says Diane, "I feel motivated. I can do this." Emotionally/mentally, Diane has increased her self-efficacy in working out independently and is confident in the fact that what she is doing is good for her health. In the first month, her physical progress includes a 4% reduction in body fat percentage, and an overall decrease of 10.75 inches from her body.
- Sonjia reports that after working out at Curves® for 2 months she feels less stressed, has increased her number of social opportunities by engaging in conversation with fellow members, and feels inspired to work out and take care of herself. In addition to that, she has also reduced her body fat percentage by 4% in the first month alone! Sonjia says she would recommend that anyone should come to Curves®, saying, "If I can do it, anyone can!"
Ashley herself reports that what originally struck her as she was training the women was that to use traditional strength-training equipment, the women would likely need to have intimate knowledge of the equipment and location for changing weights and seating position and for maneuvering between machines. Not to mention that in conventional settings, free weights are often used and people tend to leave these in the middle of pathways causing dangerous obstructions for anyone. With this circuit design, Ashley found a successful strength training program that was achieved independently, easily, and safely for these two ladies. Curves® is a specific type of workout and would not necessarily be effective for a person who has severe mobility impairments, but Ashley feels that it may effectively meet the needs for people with visual impairments who are seeking a complete workout.
For more information about Curves®, go to http://www.curvesinformation.com or contact 800-754-7505.