Feature Article - March 2007
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Running the Trend Mill

The ever-evolving workout world

By Emily Tipping

Parisi said he's seen clubs attract younger patrons by incorporating popular videogames like Dance Dance Revolution, for example at a recently designed fitness center for the park district of Cuomo, Ind.

On the opposite end of the age spectrum, programming is also taking off, according to ACE. Fitness programs targeted for older adults can help seniors condition their bodies and fight the diseases commonly associated with old age while improving flexibility and stabilizing joints to help prevent common injuries and enhance overall quality of life.

IDEA Health & Fitness reported in November 2006 that it's never too late for older adults to benefit from adding fitness to their lives. A study of 312 adults between 40 and 68 years old who had confirmed coronary artery disease revealed that those who became very physically active after age 40 were 55 percent less likely to be diagnosed with heart disease than inactive study participants.

At Pure Pilates LLC in Las Vegas, Suzanne Kelly, owner and certified Pilates instructor, has not only developed programming designed specifically for kids and teens, but also for older adults. For the elderly, she said, balance training and core training are extremely important. Her "Standing Firm" course helps people of all ages strengthen their core, and some people find muscles they never knew they had in the process. But it's especially beneficial for the elderly.

"With Standing Firm, we're taking it to a retirement home because the elderly have problems getting up and down," Kelly said. "They can do the whole class standing. Their hip flexors are strengthened, and we work with their core, which is exceptionally important and helps prevent some of the injuries that are common as we age."

Beyond treating people of specific age groups, there are other populations with special fitness needs, including patients in post-rehab situations. This is where medical fitness centers come in.

According to Colleen Young, mind-body coordinator for Cox Fitness Centers at the Meyer Center in Springfield, Mo., medical centers represent an important new trend in fitness facilities. The 90,000-square-foot facility provides programs for post-rehab patients and older adults in a mind-body fitness and relaxation program, as well as more traditional fitness offerings. Some classes are taught on a rolling glideboard and cable-pulley system that uses one's body weight as resistance on an incline.

Young has found that this equipment helps special populations achieve a safe, effective workout.

"They are able to accommodate so many different populations," she said. "We work with cancer recovery patients, heart recovery patients, anybody coming out of physical therapy into a post-rehab situation."

The center is about half rehab and half fitness and provides good synergy between a patient's or client's medical team and fitness staff. "We staff RNs," Young said. "How many gyms staff RNs? We have licensed dieticians on board. We have exercise physiologists. You're dealing with a real professional staff. We're set apart form the average gym, but when you look in, we look like the 'wow' gym."

And getting back to kids, Young provides fitness programming designed specifically for children and their families. "We're trying to set up a children's program where parents and children are involved," she said. "Family and community health is important—involving the entire family. We're trying to create more family-oriented fitness."