I’m one of those people that have a love and passion for fitness. I’ve worked with a number of personal trainers over the years, some being more effective and knowledgable than others. When I heard the name James O’Driscoll I was fascinated, ‘Why?’ you may ask… well, because he is blind! – Just take a moment to imagine if you could do your job blind? I know I couldn’t.
James was diagnosed with Leber’s optic hereditary neuropathy, a rare condition which affects just one in 20 million, causing him to lose his sight at 26 years old. He turned his life around through exercise, which inspired him to become the UK’s first blind Personal Trainer.
I was fortunate enough to have a PT session with James, who recently moved from Kent to Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire. After leaving his clients at Virgin Active, he decided to go out on his own (well with his dog, Disney) starting up Simply FITT, converting his garage into a gym/studio.
The morning of our session I typically overslept, had only 20 minutes to get up and out the door, literally sprayed myself with body spray, quickly brushed my teeth and left the house, which got me thinking as I made my way over… James couldn’t see me, he didn’t care what I was wearing, whether my hair was brushed or not, whether I had make-up on, as long as I smelt ok he wouldn’t know. It made me question how much time do we waste getting ready for things that really isn’t necessary?
I was really impressed with his gym and the facilities he had, I felt like a kid in a sweet shop wanting to try everything. We started the session with a warm up on the holistic water filled rowing machine. Instantly I was taken aback when James corrected me on my technique, I questioned as to how he would know my shoulders weren’t back, which of course they weren’t! We moved on to a kettle bells circuit, consisting of swings, head cutters, goblin squats and press ups with James continuously instructing techniques and pushing that extra rep out of me.
Then came the fun stuff – anchor training! I put on this body suit which James handed me. By this point I felt so comfortable with him that I kept forgetting he was blind, he doesn’t look blind and with how confident he is as a trainer it completely left my mind. Anyway, back to the anchor training. Basically I was in this body suit. The best way to describe it is to imagine something from 50 Shades of Grey that’s attached to the wall by big elastic bands! Following his instruction I did bear crawls, frog squats, iguana walkouts planks, reverse bear crawls, polar bear presses, side crawls, all whilst in this suit with resistance working against me. I actually found myself paying attention to my technique more that I normally would and when I got to the end of something found myself confirming with James that I had, but in turn I was also confirming with myself with what I was doing. So by talking about what I was doing it actually made me more aware.
We ended the session with some boxing pad work using a strike man which tested my reflexes and finally finishing with abdominal work using a surge, which is basically a water filled viper before stretching.
I throughly enjoyed my PT session even though my legs felt like jelly by the end. James is obviously a very knowledgable, passionate and dedicated PT, just from talking to him you can tell that sessions with him don’t stop at the end of your session. He looks at nutrition and lifestyle. Health and fitness to him is a way of life, not just for the month after Christmas.
I know so many people who are to self-conscious to walk into a gym, or to put on running shoes and pounding streets is just so scary that it doesn’t feel like an option. But to have a trainer that can’t see you I feel would help really boost people’s confidence, after all training isn’t always about how you look, it’s about how it makes you feel.
I can’t wait for my next session, those plyometric boxes have my name all over them!
For a FREE 30 minute complementary session or to find out more contact James on 07881 100746 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org