I wrote about my condo gym facility being a place where an important lesson can be learned. My building has many senior citizens, some with debilitating illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease, as well as other people who are recovering from knee surgery or a stroke. What I realized from using this gym is that these individuals are not focusing on what they cannot do, but rather on what they CAN do. They refuse to allow their ailment to keep them back from being as healthy and fit as they can be.
It was in my building gym where I first met personal trainer and health coach Brenda Holder. She was working with her client “John”, an elderly gentleman who suffered a stroke. They worked on some walking as well as doing some light weights as he sat in his wheelchair. What I loved seeing was Brenda’s interaction with John. She gave him the perfect combination of gentleness and a firm nudge to complete his workout to his full potential. I could see in John’s face he felt happy to achieve these goals.
Brenda was kind enough to meet me at a nearby Starbucks to discuss her experience as a personal trainer and health coach and answer a few questions. Her primary goal is to help the client focus on the positive and having a healthy mindset before achieving their physical goals, as she feels the two go hand in hand.
I am pleased to present my inspirational story for this month.
• How did you start training adults who are in their middle and senior years?
I had previously been working with children and adults in a fitness capacity and a friend of the family contacted me regarding an exercise program. This individual was of senior age and she was looking for some guidance and support on starting some exercises in a safe manner. I started working with this individual at her condo gym, and a result of me working with this person; I had the pleasure of meeting other residences that lived in the building. There was a couple that came to the gym every day and the husband was recovering from a stroke. They asked me if I would be able to work with the husband because he was struggling to walk again and they were looking for some additional support in his recovery. I was very honored and excited that they were interested in my services.
I have been working with this individual for over 2 years and he has made sufficient gains with his mobility. When I first started working with him, he spent 80% of his time in the wheelchair and presently he spends 10% of his time in the chair.
I have always been open to trying new things and I am truly grateful for having this opportunity, we can all learn so much from each other.
• How are some ways physical activity can positively benefit a senior’s quality of life or people in general as we age?
There are so many great benefits to why we should exercise; first off our bodies are made to move, so when we go for a walk, dance or ride our bikes, we are releasing the hormone called Serotonin which is often referred to as the “Happy Hormone” this makes us happy. We are providing our heart and brain with more oxygen which allows us to remember more and be more alert. It also provides us with more energy and we sleep better when we are moving our bodies. The other important benefits are that when we do exercises this helps us to strengthen our bodies; we release the minerals that are needed to help keep our bones strong which in turn reduces our chances of injuries. When we are more active there are less need for medication and our overall health is better.
• What kind of suggestions would you make for an individual who is say, in their 50’s, but has led a sedentary lifestyle, but now wants to become more active?
I would highly recommend that the individual follow up with their family Doctor and make sure there are not any health concerns to consider. Also it is very beneficial to consult a fitness professional, like a Personal Trainer who can develop an individualized fitness program that will take into account the person’s health needs and goals and create a program that will be safe and fun.
• What is your most memorable success story?
My most memorable success story would be working with my client that had a stroke and witnessing him walk independently. This story has been very meaningful for me because it really speaks to determination and the spirit of never giving up. This individual truly has the determination to keep going. Every day no matter how he feels, he continues to keep moving and he has been very focused on his goal of walking again. Two summers ago, I had convinced him that it was time to go outside and walk. Since his stroke, he hasn’t been able to leave his condo unless it is for medical appointments. This was a big step for him. When he got on the sidewalk, he found it very challenging to lift his left leg which is paralyzed. He wanted to stop and asked a few times to sit in his wheelchair; however, I knew that if he stopped he would probably not try again, so he continued to walk ahead with my support and guidance. When he reached the tree, he was so pleased and proud of himself. This was truly a proud moment for him and especially for me.
One of Brenda’s clients enjoys the benefits of walking in the park with his wife and improving his mobility after a stroke.
• I have heard you use the expression, “move it, or lose it.” What happens to our physical being if we are not active?
Yes, this is a common expression “ move it or lose it” our bodies were built to move and when we stop moving our joints they get stiff and we are not as flexible which affects our balance and coordination. When we are not physically active, it also affects our mental and social health which impacts our energy and the desire to socialize. It is very important to not only move your body to keep your heart and bones strong, but also to maintain good mental health.
Brenda speaks at a wellness event.
. Finally, you say that if an individual has a negative attitude, they will only sabotage their goals. As you are a firm believer in being in the correct mental place before you can get to a healthy physical place, what strategies would you use to help someone who is plagued with a negative mindset reach their goals of becoming physically fitter?
I would take the time to develop a better understanding of what the challenge are for the individual and discuss any patterns which maybe affecting their ability to follow through and be successful.
One of the strategies that I provide to my clients is called “Life Scripting” this is written document of the person’s goals. The focus is having the person’s goals aligned with their subconscious which is the key to achieving success. We often have little conversations with ourselves and they are not always very positive or productive. We tend to be the most crucial towards ourselves and this often what gets in the way of our success. The Life Script includes the individual’s goals and incorporates positive statements that the person repeats out loud to himself morning and night time. The reason that the script is read twice a day is that is gets inputted into the person’s subconscious and starts to remove the old patterns.
When this strategy is followed consistently, the individual starts to feel more positive and they are more willing to stay focused and follow through with their goals.
Thank-you Brenda for taking the time to answer my questions, and may we always be aware of the importance of being active.
Health coach, personal trainer and positivity advocate, Brenda Holder.
For further information about services offered at One Step Forward contact Brenda at:
Brenda Holder, CCF, PTS
Health Wellness Coach
Mobile Health and Wellness Service