Fighting Back – Getting Stronger as You Age
You may have experienced it already. It is becoming more difficult to do activities that just 10 years ago used to be easy. Your yearly vacation to hike in the state park leaves you with the need for another vacation just to recover. You take more breaks during those summer days working in the yard or spring afternoons planting the garden. That extra $20 for a golf cart looks like a steal compared to how tired you feel when you get to the 14th tee box. You are getting older, and you are starting to feel it.
The technical term for this feeling is sarcopenia, which simply means the age-related loss of muscle mass. As we age, we lose strength. As our muscle decreases, our strength, endurance, and ability to continue living an active lifestyle declines as well. This steady decline impacts our body’s ability to burn fat, resulting in gaining weight despite the improvements you may have tried to make in your diet. It also increases the risk of a loss in bone density, high blood pressure, improper insulin balance and blood sugar levels. In short, muscle is the key to many of the health and wellness factors that begin to decline as we age, and pick up speed over 50.
Did you know that strength training is the key to fighting many of these problems? I bet you, like most people, have never considered yourself a weightlifter or body builder. The mental picture of strength training usually involves a room full of hard-bodied 20-somethings, loud music, dangerous-looking racks of free weights and dumbbells, and a whole lot of grunting and flexing. Surely this is no place for a normal person just looking to get in better shape.
You may have tried walking or jogging, aerobics classes, pilates, yoga, or those at-home DVD programs in order to get in better shape and fight the aging process. The problem with these approaches is that they do next to nothing to build strength. We need to get stronger as we age, yet the conventional wisdom is that strength training is unsafe for people over the age of 50. So we spend a lot of time moving around, but do not truly challenge our muscles to encourage them to get stronger.
Here’s the truth: getting stronger is FAR MORE IMPORTANT for the 50 year old executive or 65 year old retiree than it is for a 25 year old athlete. Much more is at stake from a health and wellness standpoint. Yet most of us have no desire to walk into a gym and pick up free weights or spend thousands of dollars on at-home exercise equipment.
There is a growing fitness franchise that has spent over a decade focusing and refining their approach to exercise for those who need to get stronger and reverse the loss of muscle and strength due to aging. The Exercise Coach, founded in 2000 by Brian Cygan in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, is passionate about empowering ‘unlikely exercisers’ to get the maximum benefit from exercise while being safe, time efficient, and effective. Our clients, many over the age of 50, have seen remarkable results working out less than an hour a week. From losing 200 pounds, to increasing strength by 50% or more in less than 8 weeks, to increasing bone density, and lowering blood pressure, all the results you want from fitness can be achieved efficiently and with minimal risk of injury.
The Exercise Coach approach applies high-intensity strength training principals designed to produce maximum results in a minimal amount of time. Your muscles need to be sufficiently challenged to produce a change. Much of the ‘cardio’ type exercise is very inefficient, and actually does not encourage stronger muscles. Walking, running, swimming or biking is not going to give your body the right amount of stimulus to produce meaningful change. A better approach is to apply meaningful load to the muscles, and to work them sufficiently to produce an adaptation. In other words, your muscles are like a sink – you can either empty it with a teaspoon, or you can pull the drain. There is nothing special about the amount of time you spend moving, but the key to achieving real results is quality of work you do.
You may think ‘high-intensity’ sounds dangerous. It is actually far safer than conventional exercise. There is little to no stress on the joints, because they utilize slow, controlled movements designed to focus on working the muscle without putting force on the knees, shoulders, hips, or other joints. Most of the injury from exercise is not from the weights used, but from the quick movements, repetitive pounding on joints, or awkward positions many programs utilize. The Exercise Coach has safely and effectively trained clients well into their 80’s and 90’s. Even people with joint pain, heart issues, or those who are highly deconditioned can work out using this approach.
All of these features are delivered in a small, semi-private upscale studio atmosphere under the guidance of a certified personal trainer. Our studios are, in some sense, the ‘anti-gym’. No pools, daycares, sweaty locker rooms, or miles and miles of treadmills. In addition, our computerized strength and interval equipment tracks and displays all of your workouts, showing you, in real time, the strides you are making.
Let’s be honest: no matter how great the workout is, or how advanced the equipment may be, we all know how hard it is to stay on track without accountability. Those who are serious about changing their bodies need to seek the guidance of a personal coach. The Exercise Coach believes that combining high-tech equipment and the right exercise protocols with the encouragement of a personal trainer, you can see remarkable change in just a few weeks.
Exercising is not a lifestyle – it is a tool you must use to live a better life. We are not interested in making people fanatics about fitness, but rather guiding them to become stronger, healthier, and more able to live the life they want to live.
If you want more information, I would encourage you to check out www.exercisecoach.com. We have a detailed Resources section with an extensive FAQ, client testimonials, and scientific support if you are the researching type. While we may not have studios in your area, keep your eye on us. We hope to be there soon!
Director of Franchise Operations – The Exercise Coach