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Staying Fit and Keep Moving

How to stay fit in times of Corona for people with a visual impairment
Logo of Foundation: Running Blind. On the left side we see two runners, on the right side the words: running blind

#blog by Kristina Misiunaite #with RunningBlind

Even before Corona, I ran with the Running Blind foundation. In the city, but also in nature or the forest, where the seasonal changes are so clearly noticeable through sound and smell. Not only encouraged by an Apple Watch, but also the singing birds and, depending on the season, the sun on your face or the drizzle urging you to go that extra mile, running together with a buddy. We both held on to a ribbon so that the buddy could give good directions and not to literally 'fly out of the corner'. When COVID threw a spanner in the works for group training sessions, the Amsterdam region suggested doing something online to compensate for the lack of a running group. People from all over the country have since joined up. They still train together, but from home, so they can keep in touch with the group and stay fit. It is fun to get to know new people by training together; it is open to everyone who is a member of Running Blind.

My room as a gym

Running trainer Annemiek Verbeek has been giving us strength training via Running Blind for months. With very clear, verbal instructions, it is easy to follow, even for those who cannot see at all, and questions are always free. Through ZOOM, she looks along with the camera and is therefore able to give specific instructions. You hear in advance who will be there and then the training starts, usually at 09:00 in the morning. In any case, on Mondays and Saturdays (for the enthusiasts we also train on Thursdays, led by the big enthusiast of the group). Everyone goes on mute, so you can sigh and puff yourself (hopefully not too much and often 😉), grumble about not quite getting it right or let out a cry of joy when you've finally managed to do two minutes of planking! This way, everyone can focus on the voice and explanation of Annemiek. Afterwards there is plenty of opportunity to share successes and frustrations with each other, encourage each other or exchange tips on how to do an exercise.

In the whatsapp group - where the homework is shared weekly - it is sometimes pleasantly busy with messages about goals achieved, minutes trained or fun videos that can be useful. Although we are not physically together - we live all over the country - we still train together online: at a distance, but not distantly. There is now also training during the weekend, because as a student or (full-time) worker - although most likely from home at the moment - that might fit just a bit better into your week. Ideal to not become a stiff rake even in these times, when you might not get out and about as much. Necessary to clear your head and to be able to continue your day satisfied and energetic. The exercises become more difficult/heavier. We start simple in order to get as much as possible on the same level as a group. During the past year, the exercises have gradually gone from simple to more complex and intense. We do technical running exercises, based on strength and balance. It is still nice to be able to turn my room into my own personal gym at the push of a button!

Always keep practicing

Connecting her laptop to the TV, Annemiek displays everything on a large screen so that everyone can be seen clearly. Beforehand, they fine-tune whether everyone is visible enough to be able to get feedback, which actually becomes easier and easier.

Annemiek prefers to participate as well, because if she stays seated, it sounds so passive.

Curious how that sounds? Well, something like this: "We start with the warming-up: a short run, a dribble. We also move our arms, from front to back. Next exercise: heels buttocks, let's go! Right left, right-left. Next exercise: lift your knees. Knees up nicely on a counting rhythm." Annemiek has given the exercises clear names, so that everyone knows what is meant when we do the 'jumping jack', for example. Certainly, at the start of the training sessions, we included some 'old familiars' from running outside, but in the meantime, our arsenal has expanded considerably. Almost imperceptibly, all muscle groups get a turn. Annemiek has new surprises and challenges up her sleeve every month, or extensive variations on familiar ones. This ensures that it never gets boring.

Using weights

The supplies have also increased over the months. For me, it helps to do the exercises on a mat so that you know exactly where you are. For some exercises - when you have to lie on your stomach and back - it's nice to have a mat, so you don't hurt yourself. The elastic band was added for various exercises with that band around your legs. It makes stepping to the side or jumping across and closing the gap a lot harder. There is also a chair for the arm dips. The most recent addition to our sporting attributes is weights to do all kinds of exercises for your arm muscles. Being physically active makes everything a bit lighter. Still, you have to keep your mind at ease. The 'crazy thirty' is proof of that: a series of four different exercises that require you to do them as soon as the song sounds.

"Tabata" as a dessert

We always finish the training with a Tabata. This involves performing an exercise at full power for twenty seconds followed by a ten-second break, which is repeated eight times per round with a variety of exercises. Encouraged by music or the countdown via an app, we just manage to go the extra mile: "Just because we can," says Annemiek cheerfully. This really gives a boost to be able to go on all day. Afterward, take a quick shower, consume the necessary proteins and continue your activities energetically. And now you really do not have any reason anymore to do outside of the online training sessions as well!

Come join us!

In fact, despite the above passionate attempts, the fun and added value of these online training sessions cannot be properly described; you literally have to experience this at first hand. Don't let the fitness of the group be a barrier for new athletes to join, because you can simply participate at your own level. For example, by doing an exercise for a shorter time or less fanatically. Newcomers are of course taken into account by a clearer explanation and by not doing the more difficult exercises. For the rest of the group, this is also a good refresher. This makes the online training also very suitable for beginners. To be able to continue these training, it would be good if more people joined. So don't hesitate and come join us! It's worth a try at the very least. And please spread the word!

For us as participants, this has really become indispensable. Strength training makes your muscles stronger so that your running posture improves and any aches and pains are reduced. A great addition, also for those who already dare to run outside, to run with a buddy, with the help of the co-runner for example. With this 'invention' of Running Blind, it is possible to safeguard the one and a half meters. Are you threatening to be swallowed up by thesis stress, study pressure, or the online home-working that seems to know no time limits now and then? With online strength training, you can put a stop to all that.

Curious? On the YouTube channel of Running Blind Amsterdam there are also a number of short films of exercises. We recommend you get started or have someone watch you, to see if you are doing the exercises correctly. Please contact us via






Monday, 26 April 2021