Fitness25th October 2013

An Introduction to Fitness

Andie Vowles is a Deaf personal trainer and will be providing some advice and guidance to help you get fit and stay healthy

by Andie Vowles

A lack of deaf awareness and deaf friendly practices means that there are barriers to deaf people in the fitness industry. This includes access to gym centres, aerobic classes and feeling comfortable and supported joining sporting teams.

The lack of deaf friendly provision means that deaf people are often unable to improve their fitness or have a healthy lifestyle, because of gaps in communication or though their reading and written level. For some Deaf people they would often prefer to receive information through BSL as their first language. Complex written material often underpins gym membership and this can be off putting and a barrier to joining.

I know this is often my experience, so I deeply understand where you are coming from and how you feel about not being able to achieve your fitness and healthy lifestyle through these routes.

I am hoping this introductory article will be of benefit to you and help to develop your knowledge, so that you can improve your lifestyle and ultimately your health.

Benefit of Exercise and Training

The benefits of any activity are significant. Regular exercise and training even more so. You can improve flexibility, prevent injuries and most importantly, it helps you stay healthy and have plenty of energy - a zest for life. To get the best out of it, your body needs to be well looked after. When you commit to exercising regularly, you get to feel great about your body and enjoy mental relaxation after a good exercise session. It becomes easier to stay at a healthy weight, and exercise prevents illness, reduces stress, and overall improves your well-being.

If you feel pressurised in life but don’t exercise enough, it can lead to depression or illness such as catching a virus that you may come across. You may also suffer a higher risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, raised cholesterol, diabetes, weight problems, injuries, sore bone joints and decreased flexibility. To get maximum benefit from exercise and training you should also eat a healthy diet. What you eat will also have an effect on your body when exercising or training.

It is also useful to know about Cardio VO2 (Volume, Oxygen) that is also part of exercising. Cardiovascular is when, each time you take a breath in, you are bringing oxygen into your tissues. Without enough oxygen, your brain can’t function properly which means your heart can’t beat properly. When you exercise, you need more oxygen to keep up with the increased demands you put on your body. The maximum amount of oxygen you can take in while exercising is known as VO2 max. By understanding and working to improve your VO2 max, you may be able to improve your athletic performance and healthy lifestyle. 

Finding the time

Often people struggle to find the time to exercise or don't understand when it is the right time if they are doing solo sports such as golf, running, or swimming. At the amateur level, team sport training will always be in the evening when everyone is home from work or on weekends. Even if it’s just regular exercise to stay fit, then there are ways to find the time, it is just about getting the motivation and discipline to do it. When first starting out, that can be very difficult, but find a way to do those first couple of sessions and the benefits kick in very quickly and that helps provide motivation.

Another issue that often holds deaf people back is finance, through the cost of joining the gym, hiring a personal trainer and buying equipment. However, there are ways to avoid this. If you are a morning person, get up early and do a 30 mins workout such as running, brisk walking, cycling or swimming (low cost at the sport centre). You could also do some home exercise such as push ups, sit ups and many other exercises without needing to go to the gym. There are many cheap DVD packages that can be used, such as pilates, zumba. yoga and many more. For those who prefer doing things in the evening, a workout can be done when you get home or on the way home. You will certainly feel great when you start your day at work if you exercised the evening before or when you got up. Your mind will feel fresh and healthy and you will feel more energetic.

Another thing to consider is the distance between your home and work. Try cycling or walking to work, it is good for you and it may save you money in the process. If you must travel by car or bus, why not park ½ a mile or more away from work and walk the rest of the way. If you go by bus, stop at least 2 stops before or after and walk to work. It seems inconvenient, but it will make a difference to your health, especially if you have a sedentary job.

As you have probably seen on TV adverts or on posters at your doctors, ideally you should exercise at least 30 mins a day. I strongly agree with that as it helps to build up your fitness and level of exercise to ensure your body is used to it before going to the next level. The benefit of exercise is being able to keep up with your cardio VO2 requirements, such as being able to climb stairs without puffing, keep up with any activities such as playing with kids, grandkids, housework, social sport and so on. In other words, doing regular training and exercise can be life changing.

Technical Advice - Why do a warm up & stretch

WARM UP - You may have wondered why you must warm up first?

Imagine you buy Wrigley's chewing gum, they are hard and straight. Pretend they are your muscles. While the ‘gum’ is hard and you may snap it or tear it a bit, this is what can happen to your muscles. When you chew your gum it softens up and you can pull the gum so that it stretches longer than its original size. That means your muscles are warm and soft and will not snap or tear and cause an injury. It is vital to ensure you are well warmed up before taking any major activity, especially when you are first starting out.

STRETCHES – Once you have warmed up, it is important to do some stretches to ensure your muscles are loose before taking on extensive exercise or activity.

COOL DOWN – It is also vital that you do some cool down stretches to release the tensions of your muscles after a hard workout or activity. It is done the same way as warm up stretches. 

Main method of stretching –

These are some of the common ways to stretch your muscles, and I have included some images below.                                                                                                                                                                                   


Article by Andie Vowles

posted in Deaf Sport / Fitness

25th October 2013