BSL Fitness Classes and Personal Training with India Morse

We caught up with India Morse, a deaf fitness and health influencer who is breaking down barriers in the fitness industry. Her commitment to inclusion and passion for fitness has seen her feature in Women Health magazine, and in a collaboration with Joe Wicks on The Body Coach app and YouTube channel.

I am India (but everyone calls me Indie), and I was born proudly deaf. As I’m a BSL user, I went to deaf schools until the age of 17, and I combine hearing and deaf worlds to build my confidence to communicate and put myself out there.

How long have you been involved in the fitness community, and how did you start?

I’ve been always sporty in school, as I used to play football. However, when I left school I had no interest in it. Eventually I started to get into fitness when I was ‘heartbroken’ so I went to the gym to distract myself. Now I’ve fallen in love how it makes me feel and realised the barriers in fitness industry for deaf people, so let’s say around 10 years.

Did you find that your deafness impacted your ability to get into fitness?

At the start, yes, because of the inaccessible barriers to gaining some knowledge into fitness, as I am often behind with things that are going on in fitness industry. However, eventually my confidence grew as I took further steps to explore. So ultimately, deafness cannot stop you if you are confident and driven to gain more knowledge!

What do you think needs to change within the fitness industry to make it more inclusive?

Think twice before sharing or promoting any educational posts. People need to think about how to make them easy for everyone to access. Fitness classes are one of the most difficult aspects of the gym as they are often inaccessible. The instructors need to adapt not just to their teaching skills, but also things like the lightening and music. In general, action rather than words. I believe every fitness studio should give their instructors basic deaf awareness training.

That’s something that we really agree with, and that’s the reason why we created our online Deaf Awareness course – to give every company a chance to access an affordable introduction to Deaf Awareness.

 

What advice would you give to people with disabilities or difficulties who feel obstructed from getting into fitness?

Just take one step at a time, not the whole staircase. Take it easy on yourself and reach out to the right personal trainer who is willing to help you. If you feel that you are struggling, please tell your trainer as it’s important and they need to know. It is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength that you can reach out to make a difference!

In a gym or fitness class setting, how could a hearing person help to ensure a Deaf gym-user feels as comfortable as possible?

Again, it’s all about ACTION, ACTION, ACTION. Approach them to ask how they are. Even a very basic level of sign language makes a bit of difference in making them feel at ease, and make sure to use gestures or bring paper with you when pointing the equipment out and giving demonstrations.

 

Getting involved with Joe Wicks must have been a brilliant experience. How did it happen?

Well, Joe shared the announcement that they are looking for three personal trainers to join the team so I thought why not give it a go. About 5,000 people applied! I was gobsmacked when they told me that I got through the first round. I remember clearly as I was waiting at the bus stop to receive the email. I went crazy and screamed while running down the street! So I went through two more rounds, until the final round that sadly I didn’t manage to get in.

But you then went on to deliver a class with Joe in person! What was it like meeting and working out with him?

Joe was just like other people, very friendly and laid back and when he arrived, reaching out for a hug was the first thing he did! I had so much fun training with him!

 

It’s fantastic to have such a big name in the fitness sphere make such an effort for inclusivity. How have you found the public reception to your course, both among the deaf community and the hearing?

The public reception is amazing! A lot of the hearing audience had tried my workouts, and always tagged me in the stories and gave me feedback which is so lovely, although I would prefer to receive it from the deaf audience so I hope they will feel able to message me and share with me what it means to the world.

What’s next for you? Have you got any new projects on the horizon?

Well… I’m sharing the secret with you, the announcement will be shared shortly! I will be hosting clients face to face in the gym for the first time, I’m trying to have both training online that can be accessible anywhere and in person training based in London to push more barriers and to allow my clients to feel confident in the gym! There will be more coming from The Body Coach too but one step at a time.

 

Share this article: