Wednesday, February 21, 2018
In one Group Fitness class, instructions are presented loud and clear, even for the hearing impaired. Instructor Sari Levine interprets exercises for class members who are deaf by signing the moves …

Exersigning: Sign Language Defines Workout

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Sari took a pro-active approach to her fitness career. After teaching line dancing for several years, she decided to become certified to instruct Group Fitness before pursuing a position at a fitness facility. After being approached to teach line dancing at the Center, she felt it was “meant to be.” Perhaps it was also destiny that placed in this class, taught by an instructor who also earns a living as an interpreter for the deaf, two students who are deaf.

“Joanne introduced herself to me at the start of her first class. Joanne’s initial response was surprise upon learning that I knew how to sign, followed by a huge sense of relief,” shares Sari of their first conversation. Joanne has been returning to this class since, usually with her sister Nickie and some friends, all of whom are also deaf.

“I try to share as much information as possible with these students. There is only so much you can learn by watching. Relying on visual cues for information does not provide the complete picture,” explains Sari. She mentions how Nickie was surprised to discover the importance of breathing while executing the movements. “When an instruction as simple as ‘don’t forget to breath’ goes unheard, your body and workout can suffer,” states Sari.

On two occasions, Joanne and Nickie also tried a dance class with Sari. Dance is an expression in itself, a method of communicating. Its movements are an artistic interpretation. When asked how she manages to dance with her feet and sign with her hands, Sari responded, “It can be tricky because I’m still learning to balance the two functions.” Although she has been teaching dance and operating her own interpretation business for many years, she does not often have an opportunity to perform both skills simultaneously. “I love both of my jobs. Having them combined in this sense is a very gratifying and rewarding experience for me,” she says.

Sari explains the exercises first and then demonstrates them. She counts the reps aloud and on hand, peppering her instruction with key visual cues. “Those of the class who are deaf see what we are doing as well as better comprehend through sign language. It’s been a huge comfort for them and a great benefit to their workout,” states Sari.

Sari has been successful at providing a balance between fitness and communication methods. The proof is in her class, which is growing in popularity.

Something to Ponder

Often we create excuses for postponing a healthy lifestyle. Some are more legitimate than others, ranging from having no time right now to a sore back. We think: I’ll start eating more nutritious meals tomorrow. Next week, I’ll try a new fitness class. For my next birthday, I’ll treat myself to personal training sessions. This is a story of determination. Listen to your body and act now on what you hear. The Center will be here to accommodate in ways not always foreseen.

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