Why?

I’m live in the blind community, and one of the things that comes up is trouble accessing physical activity. Reasons for this include but are not limited to access to transportation, accessing the gym, following visual cues in group classes, etc. This means that any time a blind person appears to be getting regular exercise, other blind people want details. That’s why I’m posting this. It’s not an exercise video, just a blog post by someone stuck on the idea that even written casual information needs some structure.

Disclosure I Hope Makes Me less Intimidating

I’m not particularly fitness oriented. I call any sporting event Sportsball, and some of my highlights in this portion of human existence include:

  • Throwing a bowling ball backwards, not in the Nintendo Wii game.
  • At the same bowling alley, I took out the bumper and got a gutter ball. We called it getting a gutter ball in a lane with no gutters.
  • Tagging the barbecue grill in a game of horseshoes.

I’m also the one ordering the supersized order of fries This is why anyone who knows me is saying, An exercise routine? You? It’s also why this is not a training material

The fact of the matter is endorphins help manage my chronic pain and are cheap, comparatively speaking. Exercise is also good for helping to manage circadian rhythm disorders, from my own research to deal with my stuff. The existence of necessity combined with my general contempt for gym memberships, exercise videos, etc. (a completely different story) allow me to go into this with the understanding that I have no reason to be attempting physical activity. I don’t care what I look like. I’m there to meet a need. I have, however, included a screenshot of a recent tracking session(https://starshipchangeling.net/uploads/2024/image.jpg) recorded by my Apple watch to show the results for myself.

I bring this up to tell you that if you are a blind person and if you want to be successful at something like this, you’ll have to get comfortable with the idea that, when it comes to your exercise, you’ll tell someone what their opinion is when you want it as long as you’re not in any danger. You may even need to say so out loud. If you can get comfortable with that, you can own your exercise and are more likely to stick with it/return to it following a break. This is an underlying principle of fitness in general, I believe. The turning the not worrying about what I look like long enough to do the exercise is my personal struggle as a congenitally blind, fitness disoriented person.

Considerations

I live in Florida. My pool is outdoors, useable most of the year and appears to be open 24/7, though the earliest I have been out there is 7 in the morning. I based these adaptations on my own comfort and needs.

  • Start and end in the same spot: I usually have my smartphone playing music and I set it on the corner of the pool. The distance of the sound tells me where I am. I also use markers along the length of the pool such as jets, steps and ladders for orientation. Finally, if the sun is out, I can use its position on my face to keep me on track.
  • Empty Pool: I’m introverted and blind, making me an object of curiosity to people (another topic, etc., etc., etc.). My favorite thing about the pool in my apartment is I can hit the pool at 7 in the morning and be finished long before the children are out of school. This also makes it less of a problem if I veer.
  • The same place for my things every time: My place is just inside the door against the fence. I know how far the pool is from there and I’m most comfortable starting from that spot. I also know how to get from the steps when I get out to my things.

The Routine

Before we begin, one final disclosure. The names of the moves are what I call them in my head. That’s all. I didn’t invent the moves, and please don’t spend your energy replying to me with corrections. I really had to do some personal rewiring to get here, so on my starship, I call the moves what I call them. If you’re reading this and yelling, “That’s not what that’s called!” At your computer, please relax. You can call these exercises whatever you like in your house of no imagination.

  1. Start the motor: Skip the stairs, take the plunge. My body deals with the shock of the cold all at the same time and I can get down to business. This is especially helpful on mornings are in the low ‘50’s.

  2. Warm-up; Move my legs and arms like Gymnast Barbie for the verse and chorus of a song. I like to move everything at the same time so my body doesn’t feel like it has a lot of extra parts coming out of it that I don’t know what to do with, but there are a few ways to go about warming up. Also, to move like Gymnast Barbie, get to a place in the pool that is shallow enough that I can touch if I need to, but deep enough so I don’t stub my toes. Then, move my arms and legs in a dog-paddle motion. I know when my body’s ready to go, another benefit of regular activity.

  3. Free-style: I prefer to dog-paddle. I do this for a song and a half, or five plus however many laps I can take before I get tired if it’s raining and my phone is safe and dry in my apartment. My pool’s a rectangle with an elbow for the stairs. I estimate it at about four yards long.

  4. The Big five: I do five of each of the following.

    a. Ghost arm: Move around the pool using both legs and one arm in a forward motion. The total number of laps is 10. I alternate arms for a more comfortable workout, or use each arm 5 times consecutively for a more challenging session. My ghost arm, arm I’m not using, can either stay curled against my torso, or it can be used as a makeshift feeler to find walls.

    b. T-Rex: Propel myself forward around the pool using only my arms. It gives my legs a chance to rest before the next set of exercises. If I’m not feeling it, I put my feet out behind me and just keep them stationary and remind myself I’m longer than normal when I make the turns. If I want to work my belly muscles (reminder: Not fitness oriented), I point my feet straight down and lift my legs in shallow areas. Another advantage here is my legs aren’t completely stationary durning the time it takes me to do this exercise.

    c. I forgot my kick board!: Fold my hands in front of me and use only my legs to go around the pool in a forward motion. Easier for me to write than to do.

    d. Bizarro-cycle: Pretend I’m sitting upright on a bicycle, facing my feet out in front of me and use just them to move myself around the pool in a backward motion. If I’m having a hard day, I pretend I’m on an exercise bike and use my arms to help me move. If my back starts to spasm, the bicycle becomes a manually operated crotch rocket that also goes in reverse.

    e. Flying chair: Sit in an upright position with my feet in front of me so my toes point up, and my soles are facing out. Then, move my arms in concentric circles to move around the pool in a forward motion. I use this one when my legs have giving up their grumbling about having to go through this routine agin in favor of an outcry to please stop what I’m doing. The extra challenge is to maintain the upright position. If my legs only grumble, this exercise usually stays on the bench as it is very time consuming.

  5. Cool-down: Return to Gymnast barbie position until my body doesn’t feel like a coiled spring, then a shower.

Conclusion

When I first sat down to write this, I hadn’t intended for it to be a long-form post. I also hadn’t intended for it to be all about me. However, as I was reviewing the first draft, the part about not being fitness oriented, it hit me that the only way to write this in a way appropriate to my station was to make it personal. I’m not an exercise instructor, but a troubleshooter. In this case, the thing I needed to fix was my own personal attitudes toward exercise.

I’ve enjoyed the water since forever, so I’ve figured out ways to enjoy pools independently. There’s also just something about the smell of a swimming pool, the mix of chlorine and sun lotion, that I find invigorating. Combine that with changing what I was doing according to how my body felt before, during and after, and that’s how I found what worked for me. And the music, of course. That works for me more than trying to keep time.

All I wanted was a link I could give people that ask what I’m doing so I don’t have to keep repeating myself. I need a way to count words because based on the length of this, I’m the only one who read it. :P