After having her first daughter, Mina Nishigori found it challenging to find a fitness plan that worked for her.
But it wasn’t because she wasn’t willing to be active, it was because Nishigori couldn’t find a studio that supported her blindness.
“When I had my first daughter it was really difficult for me to find anywhere to lose the baby weight and find a facility that could accommodate my needs,” Nishigori told the Richmond News.
“If I wanted to take a group fitness class, there wasn’t much out there I could do because I couldn’t see what they were doing.”
Nishigori wasn’t born blind, but has an extremely rare genetic condition that slowly brought on blindness starting from when she was 28.
Part of the struggle during this time, she said, was adapting her lifestyle.
“It was definitely devastating for me,” she said.
“If you’ve lived your whole life with sight and all of a sudden it’s taken away, you pretty much have to learn to do everything from scratch. You have to change your perspective about everything, your goals in life, everything just totally changed for me.”
However, Nishigori said she developed a strong community of support around her and after finding a trainer that did accommodate her blindness, Nishigori started to brainstorm a business plan with that trainer to open a fitness studio that could support people with diverse needs.
“If we’re going to do it, it has to be more than just starting a fitness studio,” she said.
“What if we were to incorporate my eyes to have something that is an inclusive fitness studio because nobody is doing that? Not just for people who are visually impaired, but for people with disabilities, any type of disability. “
This dream is now becoming a reality for Nishigori, who will open her studio, Burn365 Fitness, in Steveston next month.
In addition to offering programs geared towards people with disabilities, Nishigori explained part of the studio’s proceeds will be donated to organizations such as the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and the Instituto Helio Goes, a blind institute in Brazil.
“I don’t think anyone would go to (these organization’s) website unless you know someone who is blind or are blind yourself,” she said. “There is not a whole lot of business to put them on the map. My goal is to put these associations on the map.”
The studio has a grand opening celebration on June 1 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. with some free classes afterwards. The studio hopes to offer a variety of classes including yoga, pilates, dance and cardio. Throughout the summer, the studio will offer two fitness programs: one for people with low vision and another for people with Down syndrome.
Anyone, however, is welcome to join in.
“If somebody knows somebody who is blind…and wants to see what it’s like, we would love that,” she said. “Our whole point is to be inclusive.”