Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Personal Training for a Lifetime: Al Pieper's Better Living Fitness Journey

I realized [Better Living Fitness Center founder] Mark would be the best choice for me as a trainer because of the breadth of his knowledge. A lot of personal trainers are fine if you have a narrow range of goals – if you just want to drop twenty pounds, for example, or you want to train for a particular event. But Mark is so well-rounded, I knew we'd be able to develop a long-term working relationship.
-- 10-year Better Living Fitness client Al Pieper, who turns 79 years old this week

Senior fitness superstar Al Pieper enjoys strength training at Better Living Fitness Center in Ann Arbor

Al Pieper has been working out with a Better Living Fitness personal trainer since he was sixty-nine years old.

Ten years later, Al is about to enjoy his seventy-ninth birthday – and he says he's looking forward to many more birthdays, too, “...thanks to my Better Living trainer!”

Unlike some of our clients, Al didn't wait until his older years to start exercising. Instead, his fitness journey first started about forty years ago, when he was working in Detroit.
“I was developing 'executive overhang' – my stomach hung over my belt,” he remembered, laughing. So, Al found a fitness center near his office, and for the rest of his career he worked out instead of going out to lunch.

But as he retired and became older, Al's fitness needs changed and he decided he wanted to work with a professional personal trainer. Eventually, Al met Better Living Founder Mark Thiesmeyer.
During their initial consultation, Al says, “I realized Mark would be the best choice for me as a trainer because of the breadth of his knowledge. A lot of personal trainers are fine if you have a narrow range of goals – if you just want to drop twenty pounds, for example, or you want to train for a particular event.

But Mark is so well-rounded, I knew we'd be able to develop a long-term working relationship.”

Al's relationship with Mark – and the entire Better Living training staff – started with sessions geared to help Al improve his running. But when Al broke his hip and running stopped being an option, Mark developed a different fitness routine to speed Al's overall recovery.
“Physical therapy is great, but physical therapists only concentrate on returning functionality to the part of your body that's healing – not on the rest of your body,” Al says. “Mark and the other Better Living personal trainers helped make sure that my whole body recovered from my hip replacement, and also from a surgery I had on my spine.”
Medical issues aside, it's also a fact that our fitness needs change as we age. Al says that, these days, his personal training sessions are focused on a combination of strength training, flexibility, and balance exercises. In addition, Al has changed his weekly routine – instead of three personal training sessions every week, Al does a training session twice a week and comes to Full-Body Fit every weekend.
“I like the cardio aspect of Full-Body Fit,” he says. “I walk my dog a few miles a
Better Living's Full Body Fit classes focus on core strength and balance, key aspects of fitness for senior citizens. Client Al Pieper works on his core during class.
day, but my dog is getting older, too, so it's not like we get a lot of cardio from our walks. Full-Body Fit gives me the cardio, and I like the group environment.” 

Whether you're training for a particular goal -- like weight loss or athletic performance -- or you want a long-term relationship with a personal trainer to keep you healthy for life, Better Living has a trainer and a program for you. Contact us today to arrange your free initial consultation!

Better Living Fitness Center is proud to participate in Silver Sneakers.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Strong Seniors are Healthier Seniors: The Many Benefits of Strength Training for Older Adults

If you want to enjoy optimum health and independence as a senior citizen, an increasing body of research shows that regular strength training will help get you there.

Not only that, but you can start strength training at any age and still see results – just check out this 2013 video of then 91-year-old Sy Perlis breaking a world record!

But don't worry – you don't have to commit to becoming a world-record holder to benefit from strength training as a senior citizen! Here are a few of the benefits that studies have shown older adults can enjoy from just two, hour-long strength workouts a week:
  • Regular strength training prevents, and can even reverse, the loss of muscle mass and strength that otherwise dogs us as we age. If you want to be able to climb stairs, get out of chairs, or lift your grandkids, strength training is the way to go.
  • Progressive resistance (a.k.a. weight or strength) training builds stronger bones and helps prevent osteoporosis.
  • Consistent, regular strength workouts have also been shown to reduce the signs and symptoms of chronic issues like heart disease, arthritis, and Type 2 diabetes. At the same time, studies seem to indicate that strength training can help older people get better sleep, prevent obesity, and even alleviate depression – while, possibly, even improving memory and cognition.
While there is no cure for getting older, it's increasingly clear that strength training can help prevent many of the issues that make aging difficult.  
One Better Living Fitness client, Sara Constant, loves how working out with Better Living makes her feel:

When I work out every day, I find everything comes into shape: my weight decreases, my aches and pains disappear, and my ability to handle the day's requirements increases. ... I'm 71 years old, and when I look out of my 71 year old eyes, I feel as if I'm 20!
But even though strength workouts are great for us at any age, strength training by itself is only part of the equation for optimum health. We also need to work on our cardio fitness, flexibility, balance, and posture to protect our health and fitness as we get older.

At the Better Living Fitness Center we recognize the importance of strength training for people of all ages,  and we understand that building muscle alone isn't a silver bullet. That's why we created Full Body Fit – our signature fitness session that combines strength and cardio training with exercises to improve flexibility, balance, and posture.

If you're an older adult and you want to see just how fit your senior years can be, check out our Full Body Fit schedule and try a class this week. Don't worry if you have an injury or mobility issue, because your trainer will customize the exercises to fit your needs. Full Body Fit – or an individual or group session with one of Better Living's certified, experienced personal trainers – is a great way to start enjoying the benefits of strength training at any age!


StrongerMuscles May Pump Up Your Memory,” A HealthDay News article published by the National Institutes of Health's MedlinePlus website.

Strengthhelps older adults live longer,” from Science Daily.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Thirty Pounds Gone in Just Six Months – Joey Mullick's Better Living Fitness Journey

Six months ago, Joey Mullick decided it was time to hire a personal trainer to help him lose weight. Today, he's roughly thirty pounds lighter and has lost two pants sizes – and he gives Better Living Fitness a lot of credit for helping him feel better about his body.

Joey Mullick workin' it with trainer Jesse Richards
Joey decided it was time to do something about his weight after moving to Ann Arbor from Chicago with his wife Vasvi.

“I was at a point where I'd kept gaining weight over the years, and I really wanted to focus on losing it,” Joey says. “I thought personal training was the only way for me to go. I didn't know what I was doing in a gym, and didn't feel I'd have the discipline to stick to a program on my own.”

Fortunately, Joey didn't have to spend a lot of time searching for a personal trainer here in Ann Arbor, because his parents have been working with Better Living Fitness trainers Mark Thiesmeyer and Joey Smith for several years now.

After Joey's initial consultation, Mark assigned Jesse Richards to help Joey achieve his weight loss goals.

“I was a little surprised because Jesse is younger than me, and I was a bit concerned that he might not be as knowledgeable as Mark, for example, or Joey Smith,” Joey says. “But it turned out that Jesse's technical background is solid, and he really knows what he's doing.”

Not only is he a fitness expert – but like all Better Living personal trainers, Jesse also supports Joey in achieving his specific goals.

"Strength isn't a big deal to me,” Joey says. “I'm kind of weird in that I don't think about the weights I can lift or how flexible I am – losing those pants sizes and the fact that my clothing fits more loosely are the things that matter to me.”

Joey adds that working out with Better Living Fitness has become a real family affair. In addition to Joey and his parents, Joey's wife Vasvi also works with a Better Living personal trainer – and the entire family has seen solid improvements in their health, fitness, and weight.

“Better Living personal trainers are definitely the right pick for anyone who is looking at getting into exercise for the first time, or if you want to get back into working out,” Joey says. 

Whether you want to lose weight like Joey -- or work on your strength, overall health, or get an early start preparing for the spring and summer sports you love -- we're ready to help! Start your personal training journey today with a free consultation.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Working Out During and After Illness: A Fitness Guide for Ann Arbor's Cold and Flu Season

Now that cold and flu season has Ann Arbor in its slimy grip, it's time to talk about working out during and after an illness. When will working out help you get rid of a bug faster? And what's the best way to recover your fitness after you've been really sick? 

First, it's important to understand that there hasn't been a whole lot of research done on the effects of exercise on illnesses like colds and the flu.

However, we do know a few things, both about when it's okay to exercise while sick and how to best come back to an exercise routine after a more serious illness.
  • Use the neck test. If you're just experiencing some mild nasal congestion and/or a sore throat, mild exercise won't hurt you. It may even help, at least in terms of temporarily clearing your sinuses. However, if your symptoms are below the neck – chest congestion, nausea, muscle aches – OR you have a fever, stay home!
  • Scale down the intensity of your workout when you're sick. A strenuous workout – the kind that leaves you exhausted – can actually put a temporary dent in your immune system. So if you've got a mild head cold with no fever, take your workout intensity down a notch or three until you've been symptom-free for a few days.

But what if you've been seriously ill -- the kind of sick that had you in bed for a few days, or even a week? In that case, there is one key thing you have to remember when you're ready to work out again:

Take it easy.

  • If you had a fever, wait until at least forty-eight hours after the fever has broken before heading back to the gym.
  • A week in bed sick means you will lose about thirty percent of the fitness you built up before you were ill – especially your cardio fitness. This means you're going to need to work your way back up, and doing it right is going to take some time. The good news is, if you don't overtax yourself, you can be back to your previous level of fitness in as little as two weeks, depending on how long and how seriously you were ill. But if you were sick longer, it's going to take longer to get back to your previous level of fitness.
  • Pitch your first post-illness workouts to an intensity that's only about 50%-70% of what you were doing before you got sick. Remember, exhausting yourself will dent your immune system, which may leave you vulnerable to a relapse. Not only that, but exercising beyond your post-illness ability can lead to injury.
  • Work your way back up gradually. Don’t worry - you will get back your strength and stamina back!
Finally, whether you're just dealing with what seems to be a mild cold or you're looking at working out again after a more serious illness, consult with your health care professional about the effects of exercise on your body during and after an illness.

***Photo courtesy Tina Franklin