Fitness instructor and American Sign Language interpreter Cindy Williams works with Bob Geldreich in her fitness class Nov. 6 at Bridges in Nashville. / John Partipilo, The (Nashville) Tennessean
Cindy Williams put Bob and Beverly Geldreich through the paces.
Squats. Leg lifts. Lunges.
But there was no loud music. Williams didn't shout her instructions.
Instead, her hands moved about with speed and ease as she used sign language - or a gentle tap on the shoulder - to let the couple know what to do next.
This was no ordinary gym.
The Geldreichs are both deaf and among those attending exercise classes at Bridges, the Middle Tennessee center for the hearing impaired.
For 86 years, the Nashville non-profit has helped the deaf and hard of hearing across Middle Tennessee. It has long provided sign language interpreters, transcription services and a place for those struggling with hearing loss to meet and interact with each other.
But only in recent months has the organization been able to tackle another problem facing the deaf: physical fitness.
"The deaf and hard of hearing struggle with health information," said Sallie Hussey, president and CEO of Bridges.
Some have other health issues already, and many tend not to ask a lot of questions of their physicians, Hussey said. Working out or going to a traditional gym poses its own set of challenges.
"It would be difficult to ask about how to use a machine," Williams said. "If there is no one there who knows your language, you could easily hurt yourself."
But since moving into a new building this summer, Bridges has been able to provide a small gym. There's Zumba and yoga on the weekends and one-on-one classes during the week. All with instructors such as Williams who know sign language.
"This is a demographic that is under served," Williams said.
The Geldreichs are glad to have a place to work out.
"A long time ago, I was weak," Bob Geldreich said as Williams interpreted. "Now, I want to have strength."
Bob, 65, did play football in high school - he would lip read, watch the ball and was never offside - and retired from working for the United Methodist Church newspaper. The couple have two children and a grandson.
Strength is why Beverly, 62, is taking the class."I am here to get stronger," she said.
"We've been married 41 years," Bob interrupted, "and she looks the same."
Gang also reports for The (Nashville) Tennessean
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Read the original story: People with hearing loss jazzed about Tenn. gym