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“I got rid of my love handles that I’ve had my whole life!”

After his doctor (who is also a client at The Perfect Workout) warned him about muscle loss with the aging process, Seymour Bond began slow-motion strength training. As a result, he’s not only put muscle on his legs, arms, shoulders and back, he’s also lost inches on his waist.

When your doctor recommends something, you tend to listen, right? Seymour Bond’s doctor said that when you get older you start losing muscle, and you need to build strength and not allow your body to go downhill. That was good enough for Seymour, and the fact that his doctor was already a client at The Perfect Workout confirmed it. “I respect his opinion,” says Seymour. Weight training is nothing new – he started at age 17, then continued at the University of Illinois in Chicago. In fact, Seymour competed in body building and weight training during his time there. That was quite a few years ago, and he’s stayed in good shape ever since, even jogging until the age of 70. Now 79, coming to The Perfect Workout was a way to get back toward his younger physique, a challenge at any age.

Seymour got down to business with his trainer, Ray, at the West LA studio. He noticed results after a couple months. “I got rid of my love handles that I’ve had my whole life. Then I noticed my strength coming back in my legs and arms, and put muscle on my shoulders and back.” Seymour says Ray is “coach-like,” the type of man who would be a good coach. “He makes you feel like you’re doing the right thing, makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something.” Seymour likes the fact that Ray watches everything very carefully, keeps moving him up to heavier weights, and is good at strengthening his entire body – legs, upper body, and core.

The great thing about slow-motion strength training is that you can do all this with only two 20-minute workouts per week. It’s an intense workout, but you’re not in the gym for hours. The payoff? Even though Seymour wasn’t overweight, the workouts have helped him take his belt in a few notches. He’s now the same size he was in his 30s and 40s. He noticed the increased strength recently on an airplane when he lifted his luggage effortlessly into the overhead compartment, and he’s leg pressing over 250 pounds now. Plus, his cholesterol is down, an added bonus.

Seymour is proof that age is in large part a state of mind. He’s come full circle with his exercising – lifting weights in his college days, jogging through his 60s, walking in his 70s, and now back to the weights as he approaches his 80s. “I’m very pleased with The Perfect Workout, and pleased with my trainer. My goal is to keep my body toned and strong.” Want to do the same? Listen to your doctor – especially if your doctor is already a client at The Perfect Workout.

Dissolving Depression Through Strength

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the common treatments for depression include various types of antidepressants, the herbal treatment St. John’s Wart, psychotherapy, and brain stimulation therapy. After reviewing the research, the NIMH may want to add another option: strength training.

Research shows that strength training, even for as little as 10 weeks, significantly improves depression [1,2]. Strength training’s effect on depression is twice as strong as the benefit achieved through a socializing and health education program, according to one study [1]. Improvements are even seen with people who are diagnosed as clinically depressed. Gains in strength are linked to depression improvements, and improvements in sleep and depression are also connected.

According to the NIMH, about 6.7% of the US population suffers from depression – roughly 21 million people! The disease is likely caused by some combination of thought patterns and biological, genetic, environmental, and physiological factors. MRI scans show that depressed individuals have differences in brain appearance, especially in the regions that are related to sleep, mood, thinking, appetite, and behavior.

Most commonly, depression is treated through antidepressants. While medications can provide benefits, they also carry side effects. For example, antidepressants improve depression in seniors but also increase confusion, risk of falling, and often sedate the medicated individuals [1].

Exercise brings its own set of side effects…except these are side effects that you desire. According to WebMD, regular exercise improves stress, anxiety, and sleep. This is exactly what the researchers in the strength training studies found.

A 10-week study, conducted by researchers from Harvard and Tufts University, demonstrated that strength training with very challenging weights was more effective than a socializing and health education program [1]. Depression scores dropped by about 50-60%, which was about two-times greater than the comparison group. About 40% of the strength training group slept more soundly at the end of the study as well.

A second study conducted with men found that a strength training routine not only improved depression, but also anxiety, anger, and confusion [2]. Both studies showed a strong correlation between strength gained and the degree to which depression improved. Both of these are products of an effective strength training routine.

In regards to at least one mechanism for how strength exercises benefit depression, the researchers in the all-male study said training increases brain blood flow and therefore, increases the nutrients regularly received by the brain.

While I can’t say that we’ve measured clinical depression before and after training at The Perfect Workout, there are many anecdotes of our clients who have found the training to reduce their anxiety, work and personal life stresses, and many clients often walk out of their training sessions in much better spirits than when they came in (of course, that could be due to our wonderful instructors!). With all of this said, is strength training a legitimate treatment for clinical depression? For a similar question WebMD had the following answer:

“Research has shown that exercise is an effective but often underused treatment for mild to moderate depression.”

I think that’s well-stated. As you have read above, strength training provides a major boost to depression as well as anxiety, anger, confusion, and sleep difficulties. This change can happen in less than three months and, unlike medications, strength training won’t leave you with unwanted side effects.

By Matt Hedman, President of The Perfect Workout


References

  1. Singh, N. A., Clements, K. M., Fiatarone, M. A. (1997). Sleep, Sleep Deprivation, and Daytime Activities A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effect of Exercise on Sleep. Sleep, 20(2), 95-101.
  2. Cassilhas, R. C., Viana, V. A., Grassmann, V., Santos, R. T., Santos, R. F., Tufik, S. E. R. G. I. O., & Mello, M. T. (2007). The impact of resistance exercise on the cognitive function of the elderly. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 39(8), 1401.

Meet Kathryn Prickett, Personal Trainer at The Perfect Workout’s Carlsbad Studio

kathryn-trainerWhile a client at The Perfect Workout, Kathryn Prickett lost 17 pounds and gained strength. Now that she’s been a trainer since 2012, she says, “I love seeing clients gain a sense of confidence as their strength and fitness improves. It’s the greatest thing!”

Kathryn Prickett really understands and identifies with her clients. It’s easy since she is in the same age group of many of the clients and up until a couple years ago, she was a client herself at The Perfect Workout. After putting on about 17 pounds several years ago, she realized she needed to do something about it. In the past, Kathryn had done traditional weight training, and even had a Universal machine set up at home, but slow-motion strength training was a new concept to her. “It gave me quick strength,” she says. “I strength trained for six months before climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, and I almost ran up the mountain!” She also got back down to weighing 113 pounds.

After working out for a few years at The Perfect Workout, Kathryn decided she liked the idea of helping other people achieve their own goals in fitness. Certainly her passion for fitness and nutrition, a background in pharmaceutical chemistry and health sciences, and her own slow-motion strength training results were a perfect fit for becoming a trainer, and her clients are glad she did. Kathryn says, “The first thing clients usually notice is their muscles getting stronger, and then they begin to lose inches, usually in the hips and waist area. Their pants fit looser. Losing more weight only happens if they take the next step and really focus on their diet.”

Kathryn has had numerous success stories, including a client who came in for 24 sessions needing to lose a lot of weight. “The client worked very hard during her training and I definitely pushed her to stay focused and push to that point of muscle failure. She lost 10 pounds, and was so motivated by what we did that she lost another 10 pounds on her own.” Kathryn calls slow-motion strength training “a marriage between mind and body.” She listens to her clients, tries to understand their mental strengths and weaknesses and then works hard to push them physically past where they think they can go. “The learning curve in the beginning is tough, it takes a while. Once they get it, I’ll start pushing more. And it gets harder as the weights go up.”
Make no mistake, this is not a casual or typical workout. The results aren’t typical either, and Kathryn is proof of that. She continues to defy her age and keeps in great shape which certainly helps make all her world traveling adventures less difficult. Kathryn’s ongoing professional goal is to continue understanding more about nutrition and fitness, and to continue helping clients at The Perfect Workout achieve their goals.

Without changing her diet, Leslie lost 10 pounds and two sizes with one simple solution: Slow-motion strength training

leslie on vacationSince she began slow-motion strength training, microbiologist Leslie Martin has seen a decrease in her LDL (bad) cholesterol from 210 down to 140, and while she used to be a size 10, her firmer, more muscular body is now a size 6!

If you don’t do anything to actively stay in good shape, life has a way of creeping up on you. Leslie Martin wasn’t overweight, but even though she had worked out in the past, she started noticing her muscles getting weaker. She could also see a little layer of fat under the skin, “dimpling” as she calls it, on the front of her legs and her abdomen. The problem was that she doesn’t really like gyms. “The loud music, waiting for equipment, people waiting for you to get off a machine, it’s just not pleasant,” she says. “I had some success with cardio, and I had tried Pilates in the past, but I wanted to work out with weights.” The Perfect Workout’s ad online caught her attention with the promise of a good overall strength workout in just 20 minutes. In the past she often worked out for an hour or more, so being able to sneak a workout in on the way to work appealed to her.

That was in October of 2012, and after only a few workouts, Leslie felt better and had more energy. The strength training effects took a little longer to kick in. It wasn’t until about four months later when a friend asked her what she was doing that she realized her body had changed. The dimpling was gone, her skin was smooth and toned, and her arms, which were kind of skinny with slack skin before, now had a rounded, toned look. “She didn’t believe what I was doing, because she was working out five times a week,” says Leslie. “As you start doing The Perfect Workout, it’s like turning back the clock. I was toning before, but now I’m building muscle.” While she admits she didn’t have too far to go, Leslie looks and feels younger than her 56 years. She’s lost ten pounds and dropped from a size 10 to a six. “I don’t remember the last time I bought a size six! When I was a teenager probably.” A nice side effect, too, has been a decrease in her LDL (bad) cholesterol from 210 down to 140.

Before she came to The Perfect Workout, Leslie says she didn’t know what she was doing working out on her own. “It’s so much easier with a personal trainer. They take care of all the little details, keeping track of adjustments and the amount of weight. Plus, they push you to go longer on each exercise than you could go otherwise. Those last 20 seconds make a difference in your results.” Keith has been Leslie’s trainer all along at the Rancho Bernardo studio, and she loves his positive, upbeat style. He’s helped her go from 120 to 200 pounds on the leg press (one of the best overall exercises you can do), and her goal this year is to get up to 300 pounds.

Besides looking and feeling younger, the slow-motion strength training is paying off in everyday activities, too. At her job as a microbiologist for Scripps, the big commercial refrigerator doors used to be so heavy that Leslie would have to throw her body weight into it. Now, with muscles she didn’t have before, it’s much easier. “You use your muscles for everything. You don’t notice until they start getting weaker, and if you don’t do anything about it, you start getting saggy.” Leslie also notices her increased overall strength when she’s hiking, one of her favorite outdoor activities.

“I feel very fortunate that I discovered this kind of workout that fits into my lifestyle so well, and is so beneficial. It’s easy, and the time and effort required is minimal. That’s why they call it The Perfect Workout. It is perfect.”