Get Fit To Live
Chris Ullom of Wareing’s Gym
Fitness is a mindset. No matter your age or current level of conditioning, optimal levels of physical fitness can be achieved through a combination of healthy behaviors and routines. So we asked two local fitness training experts—Chris Ullom of Wareing’s Gym in Virginia Beach and Tammy Harper of Fine Lines Fitness in Chesapeake— to weigh in on the conversation.
SUGGEST FUN FITNESS ACTIVITIES THAT ALSO CAN RELIEVE STRESS.
Ullom: My motto is ‘Get fi t to live, don’t live; to get fi t.’ We exercise so that we can participate in the activities we love: surfi ng, playing tennis or chasing the grandkids around. Once a base level of fi tness is established, you can participate in a wider range of activities to help maintain fi tness, relieve stress and feel better about yourself. At Wareing’s we have boxing (nothing like hitting a heavy bag as hard as you can to relieve stress), group conditioning classes, small group personal training and classes that utilize bikes, bands, weights and balls. Hampton Roads has great natural resources that are perfect training venues. One of my favorite activities is to take my kids hiking through First Landing State Park.
Harper: When you learn a new skill or activity, your mind is so engrossed in the task that you experience a welcome reprieve from the worries and anxieties of life. In Hampton Roads we have water everywhere and lots of opportunity to utilize it for exercise. I love to kayak, and just about anyone can do it with a little instruction, and it can be enjoyed at any age.
SUGGEST HOW A PERSON JUST BEGINNING THEIR FITNESS PROGRAM CAN GET STARTED, STAY MOTIVATED AND AVOID INJURY.
Ullom: Here are a few key points:
■ Set goals. Having a goal lets you know where you’re going and helps you devise strategies for getting there.
■ Proper progression is the key to injury prevention. Trying exercises that are above your skill level or lifting too much weight isn’t benefi cial to anyone except your orthopedist. Master the most basic form of any exercise before you attempt the next exercise in the progression.
■ Your body will respond to small changes and react to big changes. We want our bodies to respond to proper increases in load, volume, intensity, etc. by getting stronger and more fl exible. If we progress too rapidly by performing more reps than we can handle or lifting more weight than we are able, we tend to develop sprains, strains and host of bad conditions that end in “itis.”
■ Consistency is key. Because we’re taking small steps on our fi tness journey, it takes time to see big, lasting changes. Whatever your routine, it will not be successful if it’s not something you practice on a regular basis.
■ Have someone to whom you’re accountable—a trainer, coach or workout buddy. There will be many days when you don’t want to exercise or eat right, and it helps to have someone to kick your butt into gear.
WHAT ROLES DO STRENGTH AND RESISTANCE TRAINING PLAY?
Harper: Resistance or strength training is important as we age to help maintain muscle mass. Without it, the decline in muscle will begin to increase at around age 40. The only way to prevent muscle from withering is to perform resistance or strength training. If you lose muscle you decrease your metabolism, which negatively impacts the waistline. Loss of muscle mass can correspond with loss of independence because you’ll be frailer and more prone to falls and injury.
WHAT CAUSES THE “BIRD LEGS AND BIG BELLY” SYNDROME, AND WHY IS THE BELLY ALWAYS THE LAST THING TO GO? WILL BALANCED WORKOUTS, A BALANCED DIET AND WEIGHT TRAINING HELP ACHIEVE A MORE ‘PROPORTIONATE’ PHYSIQUE?
Ullom: Many baby boomer clients have asked me about their ‘Menopause Belly.’ In addition to exercise and nutrition, there are hormonal factors that impact belly fat. As women age, the production of estrogen declines. The body attempts to compensate for this by increasing the amount and size of fat cells, especially in the abdomen, as these cells contribute to estrogen storage. When older women begin a weight loss program they tend to lose fat in the hips, legs and arms before losing it in their belly. In men, age-related declining testosterone levels have been blamed for this same phenomenon, although this is under debate. Research indicates that excess calories from alcohol and refi ned sugars may lead to increased fat storage in the abdomen. Genetic factors and family history may also play a role. Bottom line— everyone needs to eat a well-balanced diet and incorporate resistance training and cardiovascular exercise into their routine.
Harper: If you lose weight without building muscle the body may be smaller, but muscle is what gives the body its beautiful shape. If you want to look good naked, you must exercise and use resistance training to build muscle in addition to reducing caloric intake. If you’re protein defi cient, you’ll lack muscle mass which impacts overall shape. Stress contributes to elevated cortisol levels which impact abdominal fat. It takes a balanced approach to weight loss, and it’s best to make measured and consistent changes that will last. In closing, it’s important to recognize that at 50-plus, no matter how carefully you lose excess weight, you will not look like you did at 18. But you can embrace the changes and love your body despite imperfections if you’re strong and healthy