Womenspire: Meet the registered blind fitness instructor determined to change attitudes
Video report by ITV Wales Journalist Kate Lewis
Naz Khan is a fitness instructor, she is also registered blind.
Being disabled doesn’t define Naz, far from it.
“The only way to change attitudes and perceptions is to get out there and do the things you love to do, the things that make you feel good and hopefully people will get educated by seeing you there", said Naz.
"Be visible and hopefully attitudes can change.”
Fitness hasn’t always been a passion for Naz. Growing up, she says that she and her sister weren’t encouraged to take part in sports and were ushered down more academic paths.
It wasn’t until her early thirties that Naz found her love for fitness.
Taking up running eight years ago following the birth of her second daughter is where Naz’s fitness journey began. She says she "just loved" the way it made her feel both mentally and physically. Naz enjoyed it so much so she decided fitness was the career path she wanted to follow.
She said: “I started running and I started going to the gym and I really enjoyed it all and I wanted to gain some knowledge, I wanted to know what I was doing in the gym was right so I decided to sign up to a level 2 fitness course at Cardiff and Vale college. It was for myself to begin with but as I went through the course and I did my level 3 I saw the potential and thought maybe actually I could do this as a job and doing what you love as a job is just one of the best things.”
Naz has Retinitis Pigmentosa, a rare disease that affects the retina. Since childhood her sight has continued to deteriorate but she’s never been one to let it stop her achieving her goals or learning new skills.
Naz recalls the initial reservations her course tutor and others had about whether a blind person could become a fitness instructor but Naz is a determined woman and knew she would be able to make a success of it.
She said: “There’s loads of barriers I’ve faced in my life, I’ve always had to adapt and deal with whatever I’m faced with and decide am I going to let it beat me or am I going to get up and go and do what I want.”
After successfully achieving her Level 3 Personal Training and Yoga qualifications earlier this year Naz is continuing to add to her fitness credentials. She has also secured herself a job at a leisure centre in Grangetown, Cardiff, where she already takes a weekly women only strength class.
The 40-year-old mother of two from Cardiff has also recently taken up cycling for the first time. On Sunday she along with her co-rider, who is also one of her guide runners, Emma Jenkins cycled 60 kilometres. Naz described it as "tough but really enjoyable."
Naz is a finalist in the ‘Learner’ category of this year’s Chwarae Teg Womenspire Awards.
The award ceremony is being held on Thursday 29th September.