What does being a fitness professional in the Deaf community look like? We linked up with certified personal trainer Janna Luksha to find out.
In essence, what services do you offer?
“I train at Max Effort Training and the Eastside YMCA and offer 1-on-1, small group personal training, and classes.”
Janna entered the fitness world as many young athletes do– through sports, online research, and curiosity. Her goals included learning more about exercise and nutrition. December 2015, she started training at the Y with a certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Some time later, friend and coworker Lisa Bongard suggested Janna start a class.
“I liked the idea… [and] discussed it with former YMCA Sports Performance director Nick Sirianni. He agreed, and we worked together to start the program. It was a success.”
After launching the class, things picked up. Co-founders at Max Effort Training saw the Y’s promotional video and reached out, offering a position at their gym. She started “Get Fit with ASL”, offering a “free demo for the month [to give] people a taste of the class before they actually pay for it. Officially, “Get Fit with ASL” started in July [of 2017].” Come August, the owners helped connect her with Rochester View Apartments, a building with many Deaf residents. She jumped at the opportunity to do on-site training.
Janna is the only Deaf personal trainer in Rochester, and a pioneer in her classes as well. Combining fitness with a shared language and culture can make workouts fun and more effective. “Classes are open to deaf, hearing and those who are interested in or already know ASL. My goal is for everyone to exercise together without any communication barrier.”
In December of 2016, she was on local news channel to highlight the YMCA and the ASL Bootcamp. The Y offered more accolades, electing her as the All Star Employee and featuring her story in the Association of YMCA Professionals magazine. Most recently, she was flown out to Denver to present to over 1,000 people and was featured in a Democrat and Chronicle story.
“YMCA of the USA wanted my story. [As far as challenges,] the hardest part was marketing. I was struggling to find places to [advertise]. Another hard part was keeping participants or clients, sometimes because of their budget or timing.”
Toward the end of the interview, Janna wanted to “share some motivational quotes from [her] mother, Joanna Spano, such as:
‘Disability is a state of mind. If you believe you are disabled then you are.
It is not about deafness; you can be successful.
Move beyond limitation.
You have strength within you. Show them what you’ve got.’ “
What have you learned, aside from exercise?
“Personal training taught me how to be more confident. Don’t be afraid to show who you are! Mostly, [I] learned how to interact with people better.”
How can we stay up to date with your projects?
“[You] can follow me on Instagram @jannaluksha and find me on Facebook.
I teach ‘ASL Fitness’ at the Y from 7:15-8:15 every Thursday,
‘Get Fit with ASL’ at Max Effort Training on Mondays from 7-8pm,
and a class at Rochester View Apartments every Friday 6:45-7:30pm.”
Any last thoughts before we go?
“I am ready to help the deaf community to get happier, healthier and more fit!” – Janna Luksha
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