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Longboat Key Wednesday, May 20, 2009 11 years ago

Fitness routine gets personal


I am physically fortunate in many ways. My body type comes from a statuesque paternal grandmother rather than from my late mother, who was petite and struggled with weight all her life. When I was 50 years old, I realized that I was going to be inhabiting this vehicle for a few more decades, so I hired a personal trainer. Thirteen years ago, at age 55, I became one. The usual joint diseases aside, I enjoy fundamentally good health, so, by virtually any measure, I have little about which to complain.

At the same time, my weigh-ins now register five pounds more than the beginning of the year. I would like to have more defined buttocks. I suffer every woman’s dread of saggy upper arms and another issue of aging — poor balance. And, given that half my genes come from a father who lived to be 97-and-a-half years old,
I may still be looking forward to a few more decades in this body.

Fitness professionals are pretty good about working out. We actually do practice what we preach. At the same time, we have to motivate ourselves — not the easiest thing in the world to do. And, in my case, my workout was in a rut. I’ve been doing the same things for so long that my body has learned to do them with less effort. (The reason for that: I have devoted most of my continuing education units to advancing my understanding of yoga and Pilates versus the strength-and-cardiovascular training.) Bottom line: My personal workout was in pretty dire need of an overhaul.

I needed to hire a personal trainer, lousy economic environment or not. So I did, selecting Tim Watnem at Balance Health & Fitness in downtown Sarasota. He was my first choice because I need someone who understands the “mature body.”

My selection of a trainer was not a casual decision, and it never should be. I have talked extensively with and written about one of Watnem’s longtime clients. I referred a couple of friends to him and even worked out with one of them and him on several occasions.

Having finished teaching at the Bayfront Park Recreation Center at the end of April, I have Tuesday and Thursday mornings free. So, I committed to two sessions a week for 10 weeks and paid for them upfront — my choice, to be sure I stayed the course. Writing this column is another strategy for being sure I stick to my commitment. Readers kindly have taken an interest on the few past occasions when I have written about myself, and I will not be surprised to be asked, “How is your training going?”

My first session with Watnem was a fitness evaluation with measurements, including the always-frightening, body-composition analysis — the calipers. I weighed in at 130 pounds; my body fat is 22% — within the range designated “fitness” by the American Council on Exercise standards (see box). Pretty good, especially for my age. But it could be better. Watnem wanted to know my goals, and I gave him two words: balance and buttocks. (I probably said “butt,” but this is a family newspaper.)

We are off and running, four sessions into the 20 I have scheduled. I am learning that the biggest change in muscle strength and endurance training is a shift — a huge shift — from isolation to integration and from working a muscle individually to working multiple muscles in harmony like they work in the real world. I can tell you this: It makes exercise a lot more fun.
It is great fun to be working out with a trainer once again after all these years. I particularly love the pre- and post-workout stretches, and I encourage each of you to ratchet up your fitness activity during the lazy, hazy days.

Molly Schechter is an ACE-certified personal trainer, with a specialty in older adult fitness plus YogaFit Instructor Training and a Power Pilates(tm) Mat Certification. She teaches classes at the Bayfront Park Recreation Center. E-mail her at [email protected].


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