Saturday, June 6, 2009

Circuit training good fit for senior women; The low-impact exercise strengthens muscles and adds bone density.

Published in Prime Time, a special section of the Lincoln Journal-Star, Jul 29, 2008
Copyright Lee Enterprises, Inc. Jul 29, 2008. Used with permission.

Ellie Stehr thought she was exercising enough. After all, she was walking every week with the Senior Striders.

Then a year ago, her daughter, who is a personal trainer, bought her a membership to Curves for her 78th birthday. Now she can't imagine her life without three to four Curves workouts each week.

"I'm so addicted to it, it's pitiful," she said.

Since she's joined, Stehr has lost nearly 20 pounds and feels much better overall. She likes working out with other women, and she appreciates the way the employees call her by name. "They're glad to see you and they want to help you succeed," she said.

Curves, a circuit training program designed specifically for women, has three Lincoln locations. Similar programs for women are offered at Finesse and Strides, and many fitness centers provide some type of circuit training.

Dennis and Linda Bauer own the two Curves locations in north Lincoln.

In the Curves circuit training program, women spend 30 seconds working on a machine, followed by 30 seconds of activity on a recovery pad, progressing around a circle with other participants. A 10-minute stretching routine completes the workout.

The machines use hydraulics to provide a cardiovascular and strength training workout in a short amount of time, Dennis Bauer explained.

"It's designed so that even a novice who has never done strength training or even fitness of any kind can work next to somebody who has been doing it awhile, and it quickly accommodates to that individual. The more they put into it, the more they are able to get out of it."

Curves and similar fitness programs are designed for women of all ages. The low-impact exercise works well for seniors because it increases strength and bone density without stressing the joints as more high-impact fitness programs often do.

The machines also are designed so that primarily concentric (load-lifting) motions are used, reducing the risk of injury, stiffness and soreness often associated with eccentric (load-lowering) motions. You can put a lot of intensity into your workout without a lot of pain.

Carol Rundquist, 60, has been working out at Curves about three times a week for the past year and a half. She's noticed a marked improvement in her strength and flexibility. But the main reason she keeps going is it's just plain fun.

"I enjoy it. I wouldn't keep going if I didn't enjoy it. It should be a fun experience," Rundquist said. If you go at a certain time, you tend to see the same ladies over and over, and you get to know them."

The social aspect is an important component of a program like Curves', Bauer said. Curves staff incorporate games, contests and community service projects into the experience.Weight loss classes are available.

This sense of community motivates women, but it is usually not as effective for men. In fact, similar programs have been tried for men but have not been as successful, Bauer said.

"What we provide for an atmosphere isn't as conducive for men," Bauer said. "Men don't like to work out with their friends like women do."

The socialization motivates Jan Peck, 67, who has been working out at Curves three to five times a week for more than two years. She also likes the fact that she can get in and out quickly without waiting for machines. Peck often stops at Curves before or after a meeting or errand.

The regular exercise has helped her lose weight and lower her cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as increase her upper body strength. "I've noticed the increased strength when I mow lawns or do things around the house," Peck said. "You don't get that from just walking alone."
Circuit training can even be helpful for women with disabilities. While staff do not provide physical therapy, each participant does a fitness assessment, and staff are available to work with individuals on a case-by-case basis to modify the program to meet their needs.

When Sarah Johnston, 66, began working out at Curves five years ago, her multiple sclerosis, combined with a severely broken leg, had left her quite disabled. Her physical therapist examined each machine and recommended she start with only three machines.

With staff assistance, Johnston began working out on those machines, adding new ones gradually as she improved her strength. Now she does the complete circuit with staff assistance.

The regular workouts have "done wonders" for her strength, stamina and mobility.

Her improvement has astounded her physical therapist, Johnston said. And her workouts make a huge difference in her attitude.

"I haven't been down a day since I started Curves," she said. "If I'm feeling down, I go to Curves, and I'm 'up' immediately."

No comments:

Post a Comment