I’m writing here to encourage my fellow blind people, whether you like, don’t like, or despise the blog, you should consider this. If you’re like 95% of us, you are thinking, forget fitness, the Corona Virus has closed my local gym. Personally, I’m finding the Blind Alive fitness things a good start, and I promise you guys I’ll be on a true health journey, but first, we have to get moving. We have to get moving because 95% of us will likely die of heart attack or stroke, will not be able to do normal activities at age sixty, let alone age 90 or above, and some of us will end up dead before we turn fifty. This isn’t acceptable, and there’s many reasons why:
- Gyms are not always accessible. We often think that going to the gym is a good thing for us blind folks, but it’s not always the case. Today’s exercise machines are equipped with touchscreens that don’t talk, things that drive most blind fitness enthusiasts crazy. The National Federation of the Blind, which I admit I criticize for very personal reasons, has passed resolution after resolution asking fitness places to be more accessible to blind peoples. Instead, these gyms, such as the Titusville YMCA, the ohnly Y in Florida that seems open at all, use touchscreen equipment that cannot be used independently for blind people. Do you know how much a personal trainer costs?
- Step aerobics is mostly done visually, and visually means “do it like this”, but I’ve found yoga and other exercise modalities to be better and such things like this make more sense. Toning is not my choice, but I enjoyed spinning at the Titusville Y, and there’s an added bonus of having accessible to use bikes. To Hell with Pellanton, the bike that makes you work out and costs thousands upon tousands that we don’t make per month.
- While gyms are closed, a lot of workout videos like those of Jane Fonda are still visual, so what is a blind person to do to learn good fitness moves? There are a few different things, but I would highly recommend blind alive, http://www.blindalive.com, because the moves are great, and there are descriptions of the moves. For the interval training, be sure to go through each move carefully and read or listen to the descriptions. The trainer is great, but there are a few kind of weird moves, so just give yourself time and patiently go through the descriptions. The moves are not super complicated, but then again, I’m only a level 1 person right now, but that’s okay. You don’t have to be Jane Fonda in order to be serious about exercise and fitness, but then again, Fonda’s workout videos I’ve never seen with my own blinded eyes.
- Sports teams don’t often include blind people. Blind people are also excluded from sports leagues because of one stupid L word: liability. Ugh, you say, but what can I do to make my child’s time with athletics more bearable? There are a few regrets I have about sports: one is that I hate football, period. I hate basketball, and all ball sports in my mind don’t bring people together. I should have been a wrestler, and I would have enjoyed it because so many of the blind dudes I know did it, but for me, I would have been too light, in the featherweight class, and a girl to do wrestling. Ugh. I only weighed 93 pounds at one point because of antidepressants, parental abuse, and a bad psychiatrist. John E. McCarthy was later found to have had sexual encounters with patients, against medical board rules, right? So my parents found the headline, and that, the dean from Neighbors would say, is “a bad one.” No doctor should ever get sexually involved with a patient, their family members, or even the maid of the house. Period. End of story.
- Blind people risk having comorbid physical or mental disabling conditions. Don’t ask me why, but I’ve met so many disabled people in my life. Some can walk, some can use their hands, but some others need special feed and a feed tube to survive. Some need special nebulizer meds every morning, noon, and night. Others have comorbid mental health diagnostics, most stemming from ableist parental and peer abuse. Why is this, you ask? I think this is because the moment a blind person is born blind, or even becomes blind, the expectations are low, the bar lowers into your lap so fast you can’t even get up. As a blind woman, I am told that expectations are that I won’t have children, that I should have my tubes tied, etc etc. That’s society being stupid, but the truth is that Colorado is one of the best states to be a blind parent in. Meet the Batrons, the LaBarres, and the Nietfelds, all of these people being blind parents. Some have comorbid disabling conditions and stuff, but that’s not stopping them from being parents. For Instance, my friend Maureen, who toughed it out for years in college, taught me to make my first omelet, and said that everything I cooked smelled amazing, she had a baby boy, and that baby boy has the same genetic thing she has, but still, she doesn’t care. She’s fighting for herself, her husband, and her child every day. Who wants to bet that her little boy will still get into mischief, climb the walls, and as a teen, he might sleep in? These are all normal growing up things, and blind parents are like all parents. They’re ready. But Maureen has comorbid things going on, and she will do the fitness routines that feel good to her. This is great, but what if her son went blind at an age when most boys are like, I want to be playing sports? This little guy might be left out if not for the warrior princess/queen that is his mom fighting for his inclusion where possible in sporting events at school. Her son might develop the same sequence of things going on with Mom, but still, it doesn’t stop either of them from doing normal things like running around on the floor and looking cute in his case, and in her case, the mother can still cook and she’s still a bubbly woman who, legend has it, sang and danced as she cooked. I say legend has it because I haven’t seen it actually happen, but I wouldn’t be surprised because that lady is a dynamo.
So what can we do? First, we need to make gyms accessible as the NFB has been ruthless in saying in its resolutions. Second, we need to realize that ableist abuse and vilicide must be stopped at all opportunities to do so, including that involving blind people. Down’s Syndrome babies, though not always blind, are usually the first to go. However, vilicide has been known to occur with autistic kids, blind kids, other disabled kids. We also need to be absolutely sure that society changes its viewpoint on blind people because we’re not going anywhere. I mean it, we’re existing, breathing, and kicking, we’re not going anywhere.
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