General Rules For Using Fitness Equipment With A Disability

Mar 05, 2015
Tagged with: General Rules For Using Fitness Equipment With A Disability

A person with a disability can lead a healthy lifestyle and will benefit from regular exercise. It is important to remember, however, that they may not be able to complete the same exercises and use the same fitness equipment as an able-bodied person. In this article, we have provided some general rules for gym owners and personal trainers to help those with a disability to workout.

  • When interacting with your client, ensure that you always speak directly to them. Even if there is a companion or interpreter present, you should always direct your comments to your client.
  • Respect your clients’ assistive devices (such as canes, wheelchairs, crutches, communication boards, and so on) as their personal property. Unless you are given permission, do not move, play with or use them.
  • Be considerate of the extra time it may take for your client to transfer between fitness equipment or to complete an exercise routine. We recommend planning for this as a part of your session.
  • Never assume that your client needs assistance. Whilst it is always polite to offer your assistance, you need to wait for a reply before acting. If the client accepts your assistance, wait for their directions.
  • Never make assumptions in general. A disability can be hidden (such as learning or balance difficulties) and may or may not be visible. Instead, get to know your client’s individual needs, preferences and abilities.
  • If you are ever uncertain about what to do when interacting with your client, just ask. Most people would rather answer a question regarding protocol than to be in an uncomfortable situation.
  • In terms of a blind or visual disability, always speak to your client before approaching them, be descriptive when giving directions, speak in a normal tone of voice, and tell them when you’re leaving.
  • In terms of a deaf or hearing disability, gain the clients’ attention before speaking to them, look directly at them, speak clearly and use a normal tone of voice. Use short and simple sentences.
  • In terms of a mobility disability, put yourself at eye level with your client (if possible), never patronize them by patting them on the head or shoulder, and allow them to take as much time as they need.
  • In terms of a cognitive disability, offer assistance when completing forms or understanding written instructions, be prepared to repeat what you say, and consider moving to a quieter area.
  • In terms of a speech disability, do not pretend to understand your client (ask them to repeat if you do not understand), try to ask questions that require shorter or non-verbal answers, and do not speak for them.

If you are a gym owner or a personal trainer, we hope that you find the above general rules useful in working with clients who have a disability. There is nothing to stop these sorts of people from exercising and keeping fit, they just may not be able to use fitness equipment in the same way. At the end of the day, it’s all about communication.

Author: Nina Hales



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  • bobl07

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