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New Fitness Products For The Blind

Companies Target the Sight Impaired with Adaptive Exercise Programs

Adaptations enable blind and visually impaired participation in most competitive sports, but till recently blind non-athletes have had few health and fitness options.

The 2008 convention of the National Federation of the Blind had something new to offer attendees: organized exercise. The Irish Masters Paralympic Sports Team hosted swimming classes during the June convention, at which coach Annie Sawicki demonstrated the new AdaptTap Lane Gate system, designed to orient blind swimmers in the pool. Conventioneers also had the opportunity to take spinning (indoor cycling) classes.

It's a growing trend. While blind athletes swell the Paralympic ranks, many blind people live on fixed incomes and in relative isolation; lack of mobility and health club costs are two obstacles to keeping fit. Former Paralympians and coaches, however, are creating products and programs that can help.

Fitness Programs and Products for the Blind

Out of Sight Fitness: Out of Sight Health & Fitness is a program created specifically for people who are blind and visually impaired. Bob Koppenjan, a blind certified personal trainer for over 20 years, designed the program to address both exercise and diet. Nutrition information is provided in braille or large print (18 point); a CD guides users through the 23-minute exercise routine, which can be performed in a small area. Determination and a set of dumbbells are all one needs. The program also includes a quarterly e-newsletter and two free phone consultations. Out of Sight Fitness costs $39.95 + $5 shipping and handling from Duko Health International (Rutherford, NJ). Contact Bob Koppenjan (201.507.1510) for more information.

Beginning Yoga for the Blind and Visually Impaired: Beginning Yoga for the Blind and Visually Impaired is a five-CD set produced by Gretchen Hein, a certified Kripalu yoga instructor, and Marty Klein, a blind author and workshop facilitator. The goal of the series is to help blind people use yoga to reclaim and sustain strong, flexible bodies. The series also helps users find local yoga classes that meet the needs of blind students. The CD packaging has bold lettering on a high-contrast background with bold numbered markings. Yoga postures are explained in detail, each pose on a separate track, so users can design their own sequences. Other CDs include a yoga class simulation, and instructions for yoga teachers on facilitating blind students. The cost is $39.95 plus shipping and handling. [For more information, visit http://www.blindyoga.net.]

Adaptive Equipment for Blind Swimmers: University of Notre Dame Aquatics coach Annie Sawicki, who also coaches masters-level Paralympic swimmers, has developed the AdaptTap Lane Gate system, a device comprised of floating touch points that affords visually impaired swimmers greater awareness of their surroundings the entire length of the pool. The touch points attach to lane lines to provide both lane and wall orientation. The end points have a different size and texture to let swimmers know they're nearing the wall. [Visit http://www.irishmasters.org/adaptive.html for further details.]

Another source for adaptive swim equipment is Adolph Kiefer, whose site [http://www.kiefer.com] also offers aquatic wheelchairs and platform lifts and a complete line of swimming gear and accessories. Call 800.323.4071 for information.

As the disabled sports movement and the Paralympics continue to grow, the less-athletic members of the blind community can expect more fitness products and services developed especially for them.

(c) Andrew Leibs. Permission to republish New Fitness Products for the Blind in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.

Reprinted from Suite101.com, September 29, 2008: http://accessibletravel.suite101.com/

Comments

Fitness is an important aspect for all age groups. I would like to mention that these new fitness products for the blind are simply instructional.
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