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Health Clubs

Editor's Note: Editor's Note: Maggy Bower is a former database analyst, now married and living in Bexleyheath, Kent, UK, who has varied interests including a love of poetry.

I am a very independent, competent and capable totally blind lady who believes fervently in integration at all levels, and in keeping my body toned and healthy. In 1994, I joined a health and fitness club, and have been a member of one ever since, working out two or three times each week.

When choosing the right club for my needs, it soon became clear to me that adapting equipment is virtually impossible. It could perhaps be achieved on some of the older machines, but the modern ones have digital displays showing a whole range of information, from calories burned to speed, resistance, incline, and even such messages as "pedal faster". I therefore use the following checklist:

Staff. I look for friendly, cooperative and preferably well-qualified instructors. This means that new clients can undergo an initial assessment to determine fitness levels, and individualized programs can then be developed to enable them to achieve their goals; e.g. weight loss, body building, aerobic fitness, etc. Staff need to be on hand at all times, to set up each piece of equipment as required.

Guide dog. It's important that my dog can be tied somewhere, so that he can see me at all times and is not stressed. Of course, it follows that staff who love dogs are of great benefit.

Price. Health clubs vary enormously in cost and facilities, and I need to find a place that is affordable.

Equipment. I like a reasonable range of equipment; e.g. steppers, jogging machines, cross-country ski machines, rowing machines, etc.

Accessibility. My first club, for example, was only ten minutes from my office. I could, therefore, take out my frustrations as an advanced computer systems engineer on the machines, rather than on my colleagues. It also meant that I would be far more likely to make use of the club than if, say, I had to take a twenty-minute bus ride to get there.

Saunas, hot tubs and swimming pools. These are fun and relaxing after a workout. Check, however, that the staff have lifeguard qualifications.

I hope you have found this of help and interest, and that it will persuade some of you to join your local club, make new friends, have fun and, most importantly, get fit and live longer!