If you were blind, how would you judge training success?

This is somewhat of an addition to what I wrote last week. It wasn’t included because I had forgotten about it until after the post was finished but I can answer the question through understanding, though not comprehension.

At the first facility I trained at, I trained a man, we’ll call him Brandon, who was blinded in an industrial accident in his early 20’s. His mother found such great success training in a slow high-intensity manner that she thought it might be good for him. Now, he was far from helpless, as he was still keen on building VW Bugs and the air-cooled flat four cylinder engines that power them…by touch. Yes he built them when he had sight but he didn’t let being blind stop him from doing this activity that brought him so much joy.

However, he’s blind, so he can’t see the weights, he can’t pose in the mirror like the worst kind of dork, and he can’t act like a hardass while lifting because he’s unaware of whether or not people around him are paying attention. What are the advantages of this?

  1. He can’t see the weights, so he trusts his trainer that he’s progressing and doesn’t get anxiety about the task at hand because of however many pounds are on the apparatus.
  2. He can’t see himself, so his feedback for a workout well done is intrinsic. His pumped bicep in the mirror matters zero compared to how he feels as a result of the workout and also in between the workouts.
  3. He can’t see others watching him, so he doesn’t throw the weight around. He lifts it with control and without excessive grunting, heaving, or grimacing.

These are some of the things I’m trying to get people to cultivate in the 30 day “Mirror-Less” experiment.

Comments are open; is there something I missed? If you were blind, how would you judge training success?

5 thoughts on “If you were blind, how would you judge training success?

  1. Hi Skyler,

    I am lucky enough to work with blind and partially blind people at a gymnasium in Spain run by a national organization for blind people… If I were blind, I would judge training success by how strong/flexible/coordinated I was from the inside out- how would that help me walking through the city, getting on and off buses and subway trains, up and down curbs and stairs (counting steps).

    Good posts.

  2. Pingback: Weekly Roundup #69
  3. Great post Skyler!

    An interesting thought experiment indeed. I’d surmise that a good number of people wouldn’t know what their motivation would be without the mirror.

    Zen teacher, psychotherapist, and author Barry Magid applies a similar thought experiment to sitting mediation by asking: Think back to your last sitting. It was probably boring, uncomfortable and riddled with random thoughts. What if it never changed? What if you didn’t “progress”? Would you continue to practice?”

    I feel the same way about training. I do it for its own sake. That’s my progress. I know without looking if my workout was productive and I’ve taken to that as my “progress” marker.

    BTW-Your previous piece’s mention of the Rollins article was great. I grew up on Rollins and have read and listened to everything he has ever done. That is by far the best thing he has ever written.


    1. Al,
      Great hearing from you. Much of this is a reminder to myself of the important things, especially with a son on the way. It feels like grasping at a ghost that needs to be exorcised.

      On the other hand, it is an attempt to put into words the more subtle aspects of this endeavor that a lot of people seem to miss. I had one of those workouts last week: when my wife asked if I wanted to know my time, I told her no because I already knew it was good. No external factor would change the intrinsic jackpot.

      How’s the new equipment been? That rotary torso looks like a blast.

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