CD JUAREZ — People with visual impairments have found they can pedal their way into a renewed enthusiasm for an active lifestyle by taking spinning classes in a redesigned gym here.
They mount stationary bicycles at the the Gimnasio Adaptado Benito Juarez under the guidance of specially trained instructors who take them into an imaginary pedaling adventure, giving them the chance to exercise and enjoy the type of fun they usually can’t get on their own.
The gym opened in September with various instructors trained to teach sporting programs to people with disabilities. who can take free classes in activities such as karate, gol bol, basketball, and spinning.
Silvia Salas and Karla Fonseca are two of the spinning instructors that have dedicated their time to lead classes for the visually impaired.
“I realized that spinning consists in making a route on top of a bicycle through your imagination,” said Fonseca. “Therefore, sightless people do not have any physical disability to practice this exercise.”
The instructors said the group of about 15 students trained to participate in an the annual Spinnington event that takes place during the Chupacabras 100 km bike race in Juarez.
Every year the Spinnington Chupacabras attracts more than 200 participants who pedal for four consecutive hours. This year, the event on Oct. 10 featured two spinning-certified Venezuelan instructors, one of whom is blind.
“I started practicing spinning when I already had a different visual condition,” said Carlos Yeguez, who lost his sight in a car accident. “In 2007 I certified and I am the only spinning instructor, at least in my country, that has this condition.”
Claudio Pagavino, Yeguez’ companion instructor, said the first time he met Yeguez in a gym in Venezuela he was surprised. “The first time he went to my class I was really nervous because when I saw him going in with the walking cane in his hand I never imagined that someone with visual disability would go take my class,” said Pagavino.
After getting to know each other and gaining more interest in the world of spinning, Pagavino and Yeguez decided to create an initiative that they called Low Vision.
“Low Vision was Carlos’ idea, an initiative that he created,” said Pagavino. “He saw in himself the necessity that other people had in terms of doing a cardiovascular exercise.”
This initiative, founded in 2011, now includes five Venezuelan instructors: Yeguez, Pagavino, Mauro Menna, Pedro Gonzalez, and Sadycza Bravo.
As part of the Spinnigton Chupacabras 2015 event, Low Vision came to the Mexican border city to create consciousness about visual disability among the participants.
During Low Vision’s presentation along with the group of visually impaired people from Juarez, participants without visual disabilities covered their eyes with a mask so they could ride the spinning bicycles in complete darkness.
“I really enjoyed how they treated us,” said Sandra Elena Martinez, 47, who is blind and takes spinning classes at the gym. “I would totally participate again in another Spinnington.”
Karla Fonseca, Silvia Salas and other instructors will continue to work to raise awareness in the community about opportunities for physical activity for people with disabilities and ways to help improve their quality of life.
“We’re going to continue involving the private sector, businesses that can collaborate with Low Vision providing eyeglasses and surgeries to the people that could still have a remedy and improve their vision,” said Salas.