My Exercise Journey  

group fitness class using exercise bands

In my career as a physical therapist, I have recommended exercises of all types — strengthening, flexibility, aerobic, balance, coordination, and more specialized activities for pain and spasm relief. I personally did not follow any single program consistently. In reflection, exercise was sporadic at best and nonexistent at worst.  


As a person with low vision, I made excuses. It takes too much time, or it is too hard for me.  

A few years later, I went from low vision to totally blind, and the excuses were numerous at that point, as you can imagine. The adjustment went quickly, and I returned to working and helping my patients. 

Exercising at Home  

I continued to be a sporadic exerciser but started investigating more options as a blind person seeking independent activities. Home equipment worked well since I lived in a rural area without public transportation to a fitness center. I started with an exercise mat and light weights, then grew to other equipment. At various times, I have used a treadmill, stationary bicycle, and now an M-5, which is a cross between a stepper and an elliptical machine (great for aerobics and strengthening of the total body!) All had to be adapted and marked to make them more accessible since the screens were meant for sighted people.  

Impact of Exercise  

I was getting better at regular exercise and did not really feel the impact of the importance until after I had surgery for breast cancer. As a physical therapist, I knew why I should exercise and the benefits but always let other things take priority. Now, if I do not exercise at least five days a week, my body tells me about it! My muscles feel tighter, I have less energy, and more difficulty sleeping. When I do not reach my goal, I forgive myself as “life happens” and remind myself that any activity is better than none. This lesson has helped me encourage my patients just to do a little to start and keep moving.  

Helpful Resources  

I participated in the Ski for Light program this year for the first time in January. It was a great way to learn cross-country skiing, improve my physical health, and meet many new and interesting people. I found the articles on VisionAware particularly helpful for people with low vision or blindness trying to find out what works for them. There are articles on stretching and flexibility and developing balance. There are articles for people with pain who are unsure how to proceed and guidelines for being active and safe. The new sports section on VisionAware is also a great place to dive into accessible activities you may not have thought of yet! 

Learn More  

Balance and Exercise, APH VisionAware 

U.S. Association of Blind Athletes 

 About Trina Bassak

Earning her degree in 2011, Trina Bassak, Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), is totally blind due to retinal detachments. She enjoys gardening, roller skating, cross-country skiing, and being a 4-H leader with her husband.