Friday 8/10/07 I attended a certification course by ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association) (http://www.issaonline.com) for Specialization in Senior Fitness for Certified Fitness Trainers, also known as Personal Trainers. Out of a room with maybe 20 people, the instructor and I were the only males, and I was probably 20 years older than all but one woman (I was prudent enough not to ask her age). She was basically starting a new career in what I would guess to be her 60s and was there for the whole weekend certification program. The weekend was hosted in Westlake Village, CA by Total Woman Gym and Day Spa at their facility. Most of the trainers attending were staff members from several of their facilities around southern California. I was impressed by the skill and wisdom that these young women already possessed and by their comments and contributions to the discussion. I recommend that if you are looking for a technically sharp, women-only gym to make serious progress with becoming a fit senior, Total Woman would be a great place to do it.
I took this specialization from ISSA about 8 years ago, but never finished the very extensive and lengthy home study exam, because about that time I ran out of money and was forced to go back to engineering. Luckily I was called by an old co-worker and offered a consulting position that eventually turned into a very lucrative second career. I was surprised to see the course now offered as a seminar, and wanted to see if they had updated the technology and anti-aging strategies. I was surprised that some of the attendees had course materials, while I and maybe half the others didn’t receive them. But, the material looked pretty much the same as I had 8 years ago. ISSA takes a very scientific approach to physical fitness, with a strong bias toward sports performance. If you want to jump higher and throw longer or sprint faster, the ISSA sports trainers are the people you want. The instructor, Dr. Jack Barnathan, has coached a string of noted athletes, and is currently training swimmer Dara Torres in her return to competition and hopeful selection for the US Olympic Swim Team. Dara hit her first national competition on August 1st,2007 and won the 100 meter event with a time just 0.02 seconds off her 2000 Olympic record AT THE AGE OF 40 after 6 years out of the water, and a 15 month-old baby – that’s never been done before.
In this seminar, Dr. Barnathan focused strongly on the skill of listening (never been my strongest talent), particularly with seniors, because the possibility of causing injury is ever-present. Limitations must be understood before jumping into a fitness program. Medical condition and care must be considered and working with the client’s care providers is critical. He strongly emphasized form and technique over all other goals – keep the weights down until technique is completely automatic. He had specific advice for me, when I looked askance at his admonition not to train to failure. He felt pretty strongly that I was asking for injury if, at my age, I was using weights heavy enough to fail in 5 or 6 reps. I suppose I have the injuries to show for it, like he said. He also admitted that it’s pretty addictive – pushing weights near your limit – it’s a real rush, and I get so very motivated just thinking about it. But for most seniors trying to improve health it can be a pretty de-motivating to have some trainer pushing you to risky weight levels. So Saturday I did 4 sets of squats, the last at 245 lb, and when I got to 3 reps in the last set, I could hear his words and figured the 4th rep might just be the I-told-you-so moment and racked the weight. You know what – I REALLY want to squat 315 lb before I’m 70, if I only do it once – I have dreams about it. So much for reason!
The other thing that struck me in this seminar was that I could have made this presentation. I have a ton of practical, strategic information on maintaining fitness and health into advanced age, and I should be doing my own seminars. I have 30 years of experience presenting complex concepts to groups this size, as a catechist of adults wishing to become Catholic. In a way, this website is my practice ground, and I’m getting my act together to take it on the road. When they finally toss me out of the engineering business, I will be available.
Good Living – Frank
Frank Wilhelmi – Retired/consultant electronic engineer researches and reports practical strategies for optimizing health and fitness into advanced age. “I have a passion for living life to the fullest, and helping others to do the same.” A rapidly growing body of knowledge now enables us to extend our health and fitness decades beyond popular expectations.