Pioneering fitness classes for the deaf launched in Shipley

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Helen Lynch signing for the hard of hearing class Helen Lynch signing for the hard of hearing class

Pioneering fitness classes for deaf people have started in Shipley.

Fitness enthusiasts who are deaf or hearing-impaired can now take part in fully-signed exercise sessions at a new healthy lifestyle centre.

And the scheme – which is thought to be among the first in the country – has been praised by a charity for the deaf.

The recently-opened Shipley and Saltaire Wellness Centre in Dockfield Road is offering British Sign Language-backed CobraFIT classes for people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment so they can join in with the rest of the group.

The idea arose as centre co-owner Nicola Procter was helping her sister, Helen Lynch, at the Prism Youth Project for deaf people in Girlington, Bradford.

Helen, who runs the project, has got on board to offer signed support during CobraFIT classes at the Wellness Centre.

Nicola, who runs Shipley and Saltaire Wellness Centre with her husband, David, said: “Deaf people are just as conscious of their health and weight as anyone else, but Helen's co-youth worker Linda Chester pointed out that they often feel excluded from mainstream fitness activities because classes rely on coaches shouting out instructions for the group to follow.

“Even if someone is lip-reading, they are likely to get left behind which can make them feel self-conscious. So it tends to exclude them from taking part.

“We want our centre to be inclusive to all, because everyone has the right to live an active and healthy lifestyle.”

Linda Chester, who is deaf and has attended the signed classes, said: “The Shipley and Saltaire Wellness Centre is welcoming and friendly. I enjoy the CobraFIT classes, especially with the signed support.”

Johanna Taylor, of Action on Hearing Loss’s campaigns team, said: “It’s great that a local wellness centre is taking such positive steps to offer classes for deaf and hard of hearing people who are British Sign Language (BSL) users. It is crucial that service-providers recognise their legal responsibilities and meet the individual needs of people with disabilities.

“Providing an interpreter is one of many ways that services can be more accessible – alongside other essential considerations such as the installation and maintenance of loop and infra-red systems, reducing background music and ensuring that staff are deaf-aware.

“With as many as one in six of us affected by some kind of hearing loss, we want to ensure that everyone can get involved in the activities they would like to and enjoy keeping fit.”

CobraFIT is a new high-intensity fat-burning technique from Sweden. All the sessions include nutritional advice, again with sign support.

The next signed open house event is at the centre on Tuesday at 7pm.

To find out more or to book a place visit shipleysaltairewell nesscentre.co.uk, e-mail info@shipleysaltairewellness centre.co.uk, text only 07768 455894 or phone (01274) 585566.

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