The following article by Mel Scott, Founder of BlindAlive, the groundbreaking accessible exercise program for blind and vision impaired people was published April 26, 2015 on her blog. In this post Mel offers great tips on approaching new exercise programs which will prevent injuries, ensure the use of proper techniques, and increase the likelihood of mastering workout skills.
Have you ever started a project with high hopes? Maybe you’ve done something like it before, and you just knew this new endeavor would be successful. Then, before you’ve barely started, things go wrong? Unfortunately, I had just such an experience, and I’d like to tell you about it. My hope is that you will learn from my mistakes, and that your path to success will be a smoother one.
Would it surprise you to know that my great adventure in doing things the wrong way started with our workouts? It surprised me. After all, I’ve done other workouts before. I’ve been active since then, but there’s this small detail I neglected to keep in mind. I did those workouts twenty-five years ago.
It’s likely that some of the terminology has changed, and I know that I certainly have. I don’t mean I have become old and decrepit — that’s the last thing I want to say! Certainly, time had gone by, and because I had not done some of these moves in awhile, I had lost the innate ability that seemed to come so easily. Some of the descriptions felt like I was being asked to hop on one foot, pat my stomach with the opposite hand, and whistle Yankee Doodle.
To compound the problem, there weren’t just one of these moves; there were several! I had worked for twelve years as a rehabilitation teacher, so I think it’s safe to say I knew a little bit about how people learn. In a perfect world, I’d have put that knowledge to good use, and learned the workouts — which is what I eventually did.
First, however, I experienced some form of amnesia in which I forgot everything I ever knew. I started playing the first workout and following the instructions. When I got lost, which took practically no time at all, I listened to the detailed descriptions…. all of them. It should come as no surprise that there was no way I could remember all of that, let alone move in any kind of coordinated way.
I can only assume that accidentally hitting myself in the head while trying to get it all together finally brought me to my senses. It didn’t matter how much I had worked out. This was completely different — new terms, new music, new everything. Here are the steps that I used to get up to speed with the workouts.
- Don’t think of the first few days as part of your workout. If you do, you may be disappointed. During this learning time, your focus should be on performing the exercises correctly. The first day, I learned the warm-up for Cardio Level 1. The next day, I started at the beginning of the workout, and added a bit more. On average, it seems to take about three or four days to learn each workout. If it takes you longer, this just means you will have the workouts more firmly engrained in your memory.
- Be patient with yourself. If you haven’t been physically active, some of the exercises may be hard or impossible for you to do right now. It is important not to get discouraged. Several alternatives are suggested, and if you are unsure how to modify a particular exercise, you can always contact us.
- Don’t forget the detailed exercise descriptions. Right now, audios are available and because of your requests, we are working on making text copies available as well. For now, you can play the audio descriptions on your computer or mobile device, or download them for later listening on a variety of devices. Learn more about audio downloads on our Frequently Asked Questions page.
- Start from scratch. Once you have mastered an entire workout, consider doing it a few times before you add another one. I started learning the exercises in Sculpting with Weights One the day after I finished learning Cardio, and it was a mistake. I ended up having to review one or two of the cardio exercises, and ultimately ended up staying with that workout for about a week before adding another.
- Keep going! Once you’ve put the time into learning the workouts, you’ll want to do them consistently. This way, you’re not learning the moves from scratch each time. Also, the more you do, the better you’ll get. At least I hope that’s the case. I’m told that in another three or so months, I might even stop hitting myself in the head!
Mel will be collaborating with me monthly to offer health and fitness advice. While BlindAlive was designed with blind and vision impaired people in mind, anyone can benefit from the program. When you have a moment stop by to learn more about Mel and BlindAlive.
“If you don’t do what’s best for your body, you’re the one who comes up on the short end.” ~ Julius Erving