Questions to Ask Before Entering a Gym Being Visually Impaired

So, you have just decided you want to join a gym.

Whether you are new to exercise or looking to get back into exercise, stepping inside a gym can be intimidating.

If you’re not a regular at the gym, getting started can be your biggest obstacle — especially if you’re someone who has difficulty with their vision.

It’s been found that people with a visual impairment are twice as likely to be inactive and exhibit lower levels of fitness than their sighted peers. This comes as no surprise considering they face the same challenges most of us do (motivation, routine, confidence), but with the added barrier of sight.

However, over the years, more and more people who have difficulty with their vision are becoming increasingly confident in participating in physical activity and sport.

But like all new experiences, you shouldn’t jump straight in without asking a few questions.

Ask a coach

Exercise Right spoke with Accredited Exercise Scientist and owner of Foresight Fitness, Mitchell Finn.

Mitch has worked with numerous sport organisations and has faced his own vision impairment challenges. These impairments haven’t stopped him pursuing his own health and fitness goals.

Exercise Right asked Mitch what someone with a vision impairment should consider before entering the gym and what to ask a coach.

things to ask



What are the most common mistakes you see when beginners enter the gym?

Beginners with difficulty seeing often face the challenge of not only trying to get fitter and stronger, but learning a whole new way to move.

For those who are visually impaired, not being able to see and understand these movements from a young age may mean they have even less understanding as to what is required in a squat or push-up than the average trainee. Give yourself more time than your peers to pick up tricky movement patterns.

The other major issue you may want to address when entering the gym with a visual impairment is your posture.

Those with difficulty with their vision are always having to move their heads, neck and back to get a ‘closer’ look on things. This results in more tightness in the postural muscles and it can throw a spanner in the works during more complex movements like the deadlift.

You should talk to a coach about making changes inside and outside the gym to improve your posture.

What should you consider before seeing a coach?

Have a think about some of your perceived barriers to physical activity, whether they be related to your vision or not, and discuss these with your coach within the first few sessions.

This will allow you to make a plan to overcome these challenges so that they have as little impact on your training as possible. A good coach will go the extra mile and do some research or ask around if they don’t know how to work around what you have discussed with them!

Consider some of the more tangible aspects to training such as the style of training you like, the accessibility of the gym space, and whether you would like 1 on 1 or group training to start your journey.

The obvious extra attention you get during 1 on 1 training means there is less going on around you in terms of visual stimuli, meaning you have more energy to focus on your training.

With the right tools and techniques, plus a healthy dosage of motivation, the benefits of exercise are well within reach for people with a visual impairment.

What are the main questions you should be asking a coach before stepping inside a gym?

1. How busy does the gym get and what times should I train?

2. Does the layout of the equipment that I will be using change?

3. Are there any sections of the gym that are hard to navigate?

4. I have previously worked with some other allied health professionals who now understand my limitations well, will you find out more from them?

5. Have you trained anyone with a visual impairment before? What have you found helped them?

Speak with a professional

If you have difficulty with your vison, you will have individual traits and abilities and if you’re new to exercise and sport it can be tough to know where to start safely.

Accredited exercise professionals are university-qualified and equipped with the knowledge and skills to improve health, fitness, well-being, performance, and assist in the prevention of chronic conditions.

To find an accredited exercise professional near you, click here.



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Written by Exercise Right. We have partnered with Nike Australia Pty Ltd for this article series. The views expressed in this article, unless otherwise cited, are exclusively those of the author, Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA). ESSA is a professional organisation committed to establishing, promoting and defending the career paths of tertiary trained exercise and sports science practitioners.

Nike had no role in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data or research or the writing of this articl