Deaf gym junkie’s Auslan fitness classes believed to be Australian first

Deaf gym instructor Jarran Harris with a kettle bell

All around Australia, gym-goers are yelled at by enthusiastic exercise class instructors to go harder and faster.

But, that can be pretty tough to follow if you’re deaf.

Self-described Hobart gym freak Jarran Harris was born without hearing.

The 27-year-old is combining his passion for fitness with his skills Australian sign language (Auslan) to instruct gym classes for the deaf.

The free classes will be trialled for six months at Hobart’s PCYC, which received support from the Hobart City Council to establish the classes and provide free membership for participants.

It’s believed to be an Australian first.

Signing the workout

To get the class pumping, Mr Harris will use Auslan to explain the moves along with emphasised expressions.

He said deaf people would feel more comfortable participating in the class if it was run by a deaf person.

“It will break down the barriers,” he said.

“I’ll be running bootcamp and circuit which involves weight training along with a core workout, whole-body workout and we will use exercise equipment.”

Breaking down daily barriers

There are about 500 deaf people in Tasmania, and one in six of the population are hard of hearing.

Expression Australia chief executive Christine Mathieson said deaf and hard-of-hearing people experienced many barriers in daily life, particularly when it came to access to communication and Auslan.

She said the InstructAbility program was great example of making an everyday activity more accessible.

“By having a deaf instructor who is fitness industry qualified running classes in Auslan means people can access the program in their native language,” she said.




Fitness Trail: 3 Smith Machine exercises for the lower body

An incorrect version of this article ran in the Nov. 16 edition of Sky-Hi News. Below is the correct copy. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

A Smith Machine is a heavy piece of fitness equipment that has a fixed bar, multiple racking sites and allows for plate-loading; however, because it is a fixed bar, it does not compare to the intensity of training with a free barbell due to the fixed components. It does, however, work well for many clients who require more stabilization than a free barbell would provide. Therefore, we utilize the Smith Machine with many clients training them to properly perform squats and lunges, among other exercises, such as bench press and inverted rows.

In general, the barbell on a Smith Machine weighs approximately 25lbs. Therefore, if you have mastered the squats/lunges with the bar only, gradually add plates to the bar as needed for progressive overload. Perform 1-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions of each exercise, on two-three non-consecutive days/week. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.

Squats –stand under the Smith barbell so that the barbell will rest behind your neck and on your shoulders (if you need the pad, place it on the bar first) then un-rack the bar by lifting up, and rotating the barbell backward. Legs should be approximately shoulder distance apart, shoulders/hips/knees/toes all facing forward. Engaging the quadriceps (front of thighs), lower the body into a squat, no lower than 90-degrees of flexion at the knee joint, keeping the weight in the heels to mid-foot and keep the knees tracking over the shoes laces, never the toes. Then, drive back up into full extension at the knee joint. *Trains the quadriceps/hamstrings/glutes and nose to toes core.

Stationary Lunges – place the bar pad on the bar and slip underneath the bar so that you are able to rest the bar comfortably on the top of the shoulders as you unrack the bar. Stagger the legs front to back so you are able to keep the back heel elevated throughout the exercise and the front knee tracking over the front heel. The legs are approximately shoulder distance apart (like you are standing on two different railroad tracks), lower the body down until the front and back leg are flexed approximately 90 degrees at the knee joint. Then, drive through the front heel returning to a fully erect standing position with both knees fully extended. *Trains the quadriceps/hamstrings/glutes and nose to toes core.

Front Barbell Squat –add any weight plates that you would like but remember, that you will be able to handle less load due to the placement of the bar in the front of the body rather than with a back squat. Place the bar against the chest with the arms crossed over the chest, elbows elevated to chest height, to secure the bar at the chest. Feet should be approximately shoulder distance apart, engaging the quadriceps/hamstrings/glutes (anterior/posterior thighs and buttocks), lower the body into a squat, aiming the tailbone toward the wall behind you, keeping your body weight in the heels and then drive through the heels back into an erect position. Remember, you have nothing behind you, so lower the body down no lower than 90 degrees at the knee joint. Keep the torso erect throughout. *Trains the quadriceps/hamstrings/glutes and nose to toes core.


New fitness guidelines hope to motivate Americans to exercise: ‘There is always day one’

Story image for Fitness & Exercise news from Fox 59

A report released Monday shows less than one-third of Americans meet new physical fitness guidelines. That’s according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The failure to meet the requirements leads to 10 percent of all premature death. That’s why they’re pushing an updated message of move more, sit less.

The U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex M. Azar II, released this message:

“Today, about half of all American adults—117 million people—have one or more preventable chronic diseases. Seven of the ten most common chronic diseases are favorably influenced by regular physical activity. Yet nearly 80 percent of adults are not meeting the key guidelines.”

Now, we get it. It’s hard to find time to work out. For Jeremy York, who works to find time to work out each week, he said everybody’s busy.

“You’ve got so much going on with work, but you’ve got to carve out time to get some health and fitness activities in,” said York.

But, what if new updated requirements said your new goal should be 22 minutes.

“How can you be more active in 22 minutes of your day?” said Melanie Roberts with the National Institute for Fitness and Sport.

That’s right, 22 minutes a day. For the first time in a decade, the federal government is updating recommendations for physical activity for adults and children. Roberts is on board with this idea.

“Maybe that builds into 25 minutes a day, and maybe that builds into a more solid routine. We want exercise to become a habit,” said Roberts.

This 118 page report is a push to send home a message. It includes several new science-based guidelines for exercise and its benefits:

  • Additional health benefits related to brain health, additional cancer sites, and fall-related injuries;
  • Immediate and longer term benefits for how people feel, function, and sleep;
  • Further benefits among older adults and people with additional chronic conditions;
  • Risks of sedentary behavior and their relationship with physical activity;
  • Guidance for preschool children (ages 3 through 5 years);
  • Tested strategies that can be used to get the population more active.

Roberts added one of the most important parts of exercise is to understand the short and long term benefits.

“So that might be thinking more clearly, sleeping better, that immediate effect that exercise gives you and that turns into the long-term benefits of your decreased risk for diabetes, dementia, cancers.”

Children younger than six years old were also included on the report for the first time.

“Over the last decade we’ve noticed they struggle more taking a lap around our track and their struggling with activity into their day,” said Roberts.

The report is now calling on youth sports leaders, along with employers and the medical care industry to motivate people to get healthy.

York, when not at the gym, works in human resources. He said, “Find times to work out during the day, after work and even provide kinds of rewards or motivations.”

According to the guidelines, the lack of physical activity is linked to $117 billion in annual health care costs. To check out the full Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, click here.