“Sight Life was a Godsend”: Rehnaz shares her fitness journey
As a teenager, fitness instructor and personal trainer Rehnaz Khan never could have imagined where she would be today.
Rehnaz, 40, was always drawn to fitness and exercise, but her genetic condition, Retinitis Pigmentosa, led her to feel doubtful of her ability to pursue her passion. After working with us for a number of years, Rehnaz built her confidence exercising and using the gym and has now qualified as a personal trainer and fitness instructor. She continues to educate others about misconceptions of people with sight loss during her fitness classes.
Discovering Sight Life
Rehnaz first learned about Sight Life over 20 years ago, working with us on a voluntary basis whilst in school. She was able to access the gym for the first time with a guide, raising awareness for accessibility among the gym staff. Once her eyesight had begun to decline, Rehnaz struggled to exercise, missing out on her usual runs with friends. With Sight Life, she found a community of people willing to support each other, giving her the confidence to ask for help and guidance to start running again. She says:
“Sight Life supported me when I was younger and later on in life through groups and trying out sports, such as VI tennis and the gym, which I didn’t have the confidence to do before. Finding the love and passion for fitness propelled me forward into doing it as a career. I recently qualified as a level 3 personal trainer and I love everything health and fitness. With the help of Sight Life, I have a guide runner who I go running with and enter races with and this has given me a better quality of life. I am so grateful to Sight Life as this has really helped me with both my mental and physical health”.
Impact of Covid-19
As for many people with sight loss, Rehnaz struggled during the pandemic as it became impossible to meet guides for a run, taking a toll on Rehnaz’s mental health as she could no longer exercise outside safely. She says Sight Life was a “Godsend” during this time to get her through the pandemic and continue pursuing her passion of fitness and exercise. She learned to map out Bute Park with her cane to run safe routes across the park, massively boosting her confidence and independence.
Now, Rehnaz is a level 3 qualified personal trainer and fitness instructor in Cardiff, proving that visual impairments don’t have to be a barrier to fitness or work.
She has run the Bristol 10k in 2022 and has amazing ambitions to complete the Cardiff and Swansea Half Marathons, along with the Penarth Duathlon – nothing can stand in her way!
About Sight Life
Sight Life (formerly Cardiff Institute for the Blind) supports people who are blind or partially sighted in south Wales. In 2020/21 we helped more than 3,000 people in Cardiff, Swansea, RCT (Rhondda Cynon Taf), Neath and Port Talbot.
We provide statutory services to people with sight loss on behalf of the local Councils in Cardiff and Swansea.
In cooperation with the NHS, we provide a support service (ECLO: Eye Clinic Liaison Officer) for patients newly diagnosed with sight loss in University Hospital of Wales (UHW “The Heath”) in Cardiff.
Our aims are to ensure that people with sight loss can take part in all aspects of society, including work and leisure.
We offer a range of training, clubs and activities including audio-described theatre trips, confidence building, cooking, drama, employment support, fitness, gardening, IT, music, photography, rambling and yoga to people with sight loss.
Established in 1865, we are one of Wales’ oldest charities. In spring 2022 we returned to being an independent charity after being part of the UK wide RNIB Group since 2009.
We have approximately a dozen staff and annual income in the region of £440,000 from statutory contracts, grants, trusts, The National Lottery, donations and legacies.
Sight Life changed its name from Cardiff Institute for the Blind in 2019 to reflect the fact that we work beyond Cardiff, including Swansea and RCT (Rhondda Cynon Taf). The name change also recognises the fact that we support people with any degree of sight loss, not only those who are blind.
Please support our work and make a donation to Sight Life by clicking donate here.
To fundraise for us please click fundraising.
To volunteer with us please click volunteering.