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Dynamite and Joan, What A Journey!

Live Like You Can

By Janis McDonald

Almost one year ago, Dan Wiley and Joan Mitchell turned up at my gym seeking a new way to exercise. Joan, 71 years old, was looking for an alternative way to once again feel the endorphin high she had felt after running. Her running career lasted for 35 years; averaging 50 miles a week until her back doctor advised her to find another sport. Joan brought Dan along, encouraging him to alter his daily activity, which mostly consisted of computer time. At 80 years old, Dan was ready and willing to start moving again.

My mature clients usually start off at a mild to moderate pace, helping me sculpt their customized programs. It’s vitally important to learn how a person reacts to instructions, assess balance, and check coordination. Our first session consists of Dr. Joseph Signorile’s “Bending the Aging Curve” Senior Fitness Test. Dr. Signorile designed a periodized approach to targeted exercise prescription for older persons (60-94). The purpose of the test is to assess, prioritize, and train all components of function by determining where to begin the exercise program. Results clearly indicate the direction of early exercise intervention.

Joan, having no risk factors and wearing a heart rate monitor, started off on a cardio steady-state program. Within a few weeks, she was performing intense interval training based on her heart rate while working on the rower and Arc trainer. I knew she was getting her endorphin high when I saw the sparkle in her eyes.

Dan started off with functional type exercises, consisting of mostly standing movements. We performed the TRX; slosh ball directional lunges and squats. Dan always wore a heart rate monitor, keeping an eye on how he was responding to the intensity of the work.

During one of the TRX exercises, he felt and then confirmed his heart rate was going sky high. We both decided it was time to stop and rest. However, seeing his heart rate spike motivated an immediate trip to the doctor. Dan had emergency treatment of angioplasty and a stent. Once he was cleared to return to the gym, Joan and I were amazed at Dan’s increased energy, rosy healthy appearance, and readiness to get going again.

Joan and Dan had previously planned a walking tour in Chile and Argentina, and they still intended to go. It was vitally important to get some training under Dan’s belt before they left. Dan started on the treadmill at 2.5mph and left for Argentina walking at 3.5mph. The trip was a super success! A few months later, I suggested to Dan boxing for exercise and Dynamite Dan was born. In a very short time, he fine-tuned the punches and legwork, finding “his” perfect workout. Boxing for exercise challenges balance, enhances hand-eye coordination, speeds up reaction time, and builds strength as well as mobility. In fact, boxing for exercise is one of my favorite workouts to teach mature people. Every person can benefit from the skills of boxing moves, no matter what age. Over the years I have taught boxing for exercise to people from 13 to 87 years old, always with great results.

Janis McDonald, Certified Professional Coach, Functional Aging Trainer, Private Gym, 152 0457. Follow the Live Like You Can Blog! Go to:


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