Featured Trainer Merry Konardi

image of Merry Konardi as the Featured Trainer

Merry used to own a gymnastics gym for kids which laid the foundation for her coaching career, but it was her husband’s support and mom’s injury that became the catalyst for helping people improve their health. Here is her story…

“In 2014 I was 30 pounds overweight and ridden with chronic inflammation all over my body. When my husband took me to the gym one day and said, “We are going to start weight training.”

I was hesitant. I thought, ‘I am a gymnast. I don't weight train!’

He actually coached me through some exercises, and coached me to lift slowly. Even though it made sense to do it slowly after experiencing it, I realized I couldn’t lift with fast speed anyway because it hurt. It hurt my elbow. It hurt my shoulder. It hurt everywhere.

I found out quickly that slow-motion strength training wasn’t just a preference, it was a necessity for me.

In just three months, I started seeing results. I lost my first 15 pounds, just two months later, and the weight just came off. And my inflammation was under control.”

Image of Trainer, Merry, coaching Carelle on the compound row

Back in 2019, Merry’s mom was traveling when she experienced a scary fall. She came back home with a busted knee and couldn’t walk up the stairs. Merry became her daily caregiver, helped her with physical therapy, and began doing exercises with her at home.

“The transformation was amazing. Within a week, she started walking and was so happy! And it was just so gratifying. I thought, if I can help more people have this kind of experience, it'd be such a rewarding career.”

Merry began working toward a Personal Training certification and ultimately found The Perfect Workout – a home to help people 1-on-1 and do it with a method she wholeheartedly believed in.

“Every time I finish training somebody, I always feel that I achieved something and that’s very important.

One of our members, Carelle, is a perfect example of that. Currently, we are working with a big ceiling, which is her vertigo. Many times the intensity of the workout makes her feel nauseous.

So, I have to find a balance with different exercises, and it changes every time. But we work together and she comes here and trains hard. It's a challenge, but each session feels like an achievement.

Any time I feel like someone has had a successful workout with me, it's gratifying. And it doesn't make me feel that this is just another job. At 50 years old, that’s important at this point in my life.”

Merry Konardi
San Mateo, CA
Trainer at The Perfect Workout

Share this story with a friend- Copy this link!

New to The Perfect Workout? Book a FREE introductory workout to learn more about our method and how it can help you.

Arthritis & Strength Training

Arthritis & Strength Training: How it helps

Arthritis & Strength Training: How It Helps

Arthritis & Strength Training guide

Wake up in the morning feeling like… the Tin Man?

Creaky, painful, stiff joints. Movement feels hard. You might even feel achier when it rains or gets cold.

Sound like you? You might have arthritis. You and 58 million other US adults. (CDC)

In this article, we discuss the impact arthritis has on joints and how strength training can improve the quality of life for those who deal with the disease. For the purpose of this article, we focus specifically on arthritis of a few major joints – the knee and hip; however, the information can be applied to most affected joints. Let’s dive in…

Jump to a Topic

  1. What is Arthritis?
  2. Osteoarthritis
  3. Rheumatoid Arthritis
  4. Dangers of Arthritis
  5. Strength Training & Arthritis
  6. Next Steps

What is Arthritis?

Simply put, arthritis is inflammation of the joints. Those who have arthritis commonly experience symptoms such as pain, stiffness, decreased range of motion, and swelling. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the breakdown of joints to the extent where movement becomes painful. In the case of the knees, arthritis typically occurs when the padding between the upper and lower leg bones (the femur and tibia) is partially or completely worn out, allowing for direct bone-to-bone contact.

The wear and tear can ultimately lead to chronic pain, uneven walking, compromised mobility, and disability.

Unfortunately, osteoarthritis has become so common that it's now synonymous with aging in general.

Over 22 million Americans between 25-74 years old have moderate to severe osteoarthritis. It can develop as the result of chronic overuse (i.e. arthritis in the knees of long-time runners), past injuries (especially fractures and ACL tears), or chronically incorrect movement patterns (i.e. bowed legs).

Rheumatoid Arthritis

“Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect more than just your joints. In some people, the condition can damage a wide variety of body systems, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, and blood vessels.” (CDC)

Unlike osteoarthritis, RA isn’t caused by wear and tear. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system is triggered and the body attacks itself, affecting the lining of the joints.

The results of RA can also cause more extreme issues such as joint deformity and bone erosion.

Doctor diagnosing arthritis in the hand

Dangers of Arthritis

Think of arthritis as a spectrum when looking at the symptoms, treatments, and results.

According to the CDC, 49.6% of seniors have diagnosed arthritis. Some people can continue with day-to-day activities with no issues and find their arthritis more of an inconvenience. Whereas others experience life-changing events and debilitating pain as a result of the disease.

Joint Replacement Surgery

Although surgery isn’t the first step in treating arthritis, it is a common final step for older adults and those who have years of damage to their joints.

The hip joint, for example, is one of the most common sites for arthritis. It’s especially common for people who have experienced years of more-than-normal force on the joint.

These individuals typically have a background in athletics, dance, distance running, or people who have been obese.

With arthritis, people lose hip mobility, the joint feels tight, stiff, and painful, and about a third of people with hip arthritis get a joint replacement [4].

Living With Pain

The Arthritis Foundation says, “Many people who have arthritis or a related disease may be living with chronic pain. Pain is chronic when it lasts three to six months or longer, but arthritis pain can last a lifetime. It may be constant, or it may come and go.”

For instance, someone with a less severe form of arthritis might carry heavy groceries without issue, but someone with severe arthritis and chronic pain may experience tremendous elbow pain and need to take lighter loads or get assistance to alleviate that burden on their elbow.

The Mayo Clinic states that “destructive mind-body interactions” including depression can be a result of living with the pain of arthritis if left untreated.

Losing Independence

About one in every 14 seniors require personal care assistance, according to the CDC. About one in every six adults age 85 years and older live in a nursing home.

The loss of independence is due to a few factors and arthritis is one of them. Being a prevalent source of pain, arthritis can limit physical abilities like walking upstairs, washing your hair, or carrying groceries–and could lead to relying on others more and more.

Strength is one of the biggest factors in determining how well we can physically function.

Woman Strength Training with Arthritis

Strength Training and Arthritis

The diagnosis of arthritis is not a guarantee of future disability. Lifestyle habits play a key role. Fortunately, you do have a say in how and if the disease progresses. With that in mind, let's dive into the research to see how strength training can help.

Men and women 55 years or older with knee arthritis participated in four months of strength training in one study [1]. The program featured two workouts per week using lower body exercises (i.e. leg press, leg curl, leg extension, etc.).

After starting with three weeks of easy to moderately challenging weights, the program featured relatively challenging resistances on the exercises.

As you would expect, the four-month program was effective in increasing strength:

  • the arthritic knees became 71% stronger.
  • pain and function improved… significantly.
  • pain decreased 41% while function increased 44%.

With less pain and an improved ability to use their knees, you can imagine that the participating men and women were happy with their results.

A second study looked at strength training with women over a six-month span [3]. The women in this study also used challenging weight loads but this time, slower repetition speeds (6-9 seconds per rep) were implemented.

The exercises were all lower body-based: the leg press, calf raises, leg curls, leg extensions, hip adduction, and hip abduction.

As a result of the study, the women:

  • improved their leg strength
  • reduced their arthritic pain
  • improved leg function
  • the rate of disability among the women decreased

The researchers stated that improving strength of the muscles around the knee is especially important for maintaining normal bone alignment, which is critical to preventing future disability. Specifically, they targeted the quadriceps as the key muscle group for those with knee arthritis to do custom exercises for.

Members of The Perfect Workout can target specific muscle groups like the quadriceps in their hand-picked exercises customized by a trainer for their needs.

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Strength Training

Many RA patients are less physically active than their healthy counterparts (2). However, strength training will not worsen rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, experts and physicians overwhelmingly recommend it. An increase in strength means the muscles can better support your joints.

Additionally, RA can accelerate sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass with age, which in turn accelerates the loss of bone mass. In RA, this is called rheumatoid cachexia. It is especially important, then, for individuals with this condition to participate in regular, safe, effective strength training like at The Perfect Workout to prevent both muscle and bone loss.

Strength Training Helps Arthritis, Now What?

If you struggle with arthritis symptoms, we suggest performing regular (1 to 2x per week) high-intensity slow-motion strength training workouts.

The Perfect Workout trainers are certified in our SuperSlow method to ensure your workout is tailored specifically to your needs while providing the absolute safest method of resistance training.

Our method's enhanced safety is due to the slow movement, which minimizes the force produced on your joints and maximizes the muscular effort at the same time. This muscular challenge results in the body adapting with increased muscular strength.

Simply put, you don't have to accept arthritis as the end to a high quality of life and the activities you enjoy. Effective strength training improves the strength of the muscles supporting the joint, reduces arthritic pain, and helps prevent future disability.

If you would like to learn more about our method of strength training, read about our methodology. If you are new to The Perfect Workout, try a workout with us and book a FREE Introductory Session.

  1. Baker, K. R., Nelson, M. E., Felson, D. T., Layne, J. E., Sarno, R., & Roubenoff, R. (2001). The efficacy of home based progressive strength training in older adults with knee osteoarthritis: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Rheumatology, 28, 1655-166.
  2. Cooney JK, Law RJ, Matschke V, et al. Benefits of exercise in rheumatoid arthritis. J Aging Res. 2011;2011:681640. Published 2011 Feb 13. doi:10.4061/2011/681640 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3042669/)
  3. Foroughi N., Smith R. M., Lange, A. K., Baker, M. K., Fiatarone Singh, M.A., & Vanwanselle, B. (2011). Lower limb muscle strengthening does not change frontal plane moments in women with knee osteoarthritis: A randomized controlled trial. Clinical Biomechanics, 26, 167-174.
  4. Quintana, J.M., Arostegui, I., & Escobar, A. (2008). Prevalence of knee and hip osteoarthritis and the appropriateness of joint replacement in an older population. JAMA Internal Medicine, 168(14), 1576-1584.

The Impact of Strength Training and Inflammation

the impact of strength training and inflammation

woman with her hand on her knee hurting from inflammation
woman with her hand on her knee hurting from inflammation

It’s the reason why omega-3 fatty acid supplements have become popular in recent years.

It’s one of the major reasons why we floss. It’s a big detriment of smoking.

It’s the target of medications taken for arthritis, headaches, and menstrual pain.

Inflammation is one of the major players in the development of heart disease (some medical professionals think it’s the primary cause).

It’s a sign of atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes developments.

The list goes on and on…

Related Post: Strength And Your Health

We use the term “inflammation” often, but what exactly is inflammation?

Inflammation is a sign that the body is trying to heal itself. When inflamed, our bodies are trying to remove or destroy an unwanted presence, such as foreign bacteria, or we are repairing damaged tissue.


Inflammation is good when the body attempts to heal itself and is successful…


However, it can become destructive when it’s not able to eliminate the cause of irritation and triggers disorders such as arthritis, autoimmune disorders or more serious illnesses like cancer.

Signs & Symptoms of Inflammation

Common signs of inflammation are swelling, redness, heat, and pain. But inflammation in the body can also show up in some unexpected ways. Below are some inflammatory responses to look out for:

Joint pain

The most common symptom people experience is sore joints, particularly in the knees, shoulders, and elbows. One easy way to understand if pain you’re experiencing is inflammatory is if it's been diagnosed with anything that ends in “itis.” Such as bursitis, arthritis, tendinitis, etc.

Headaches

If you're somebody who experiences headaches or migraines on a chronic or regular basis, that could be a result of inflammation in your body.

Skin breaking out

Breaking out with pimples on your face, or experiencing itchiness, eczema, and rashes are signs of inflammation.

Weight gain

Unexplained weight gain, puffiness or bloating can be responses, particularly to inflammatory foods.

Digestive issues

Gastrointestinal complications and chronic tummy troubles are signs of an inflamed gut.

Allergy-like symptoms

Runny nose, itchy eyes, coughing and sneezing may not be symptoms of an allergy, but inflammation.

Depression

Anxiety, mood disorders, and depression have been linked to chronic inflammation [2].

Fatigue

Feeling really tired or lethargic, experiencing insomnia, having trouble sleeping are common signs.

Frequent infections

Experiencing frequent infections can be a result of long-term inflammation.

Acute vs Chronic Inflammation

Inflammation can be acute or chronic, and the difference is critical. Examples of acute scenarios are sore throats, cuts on our skin, or irritated gums (which is why we floss, to prevent irritants). Acute inflammation is immediate but lasts for a few days or weeks.


Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is a major issue. This occurs when an acute situation lingers, an autoimmune problem exists, or when there is some other chronic irritant. Chronic is the type found with heart disease and type 2 diabetes.


Both acute and chronic can be localized in the body, but inflammation which affects the entire state of the body is known as systemic inflammation.


We measure inflammation by looking at cytokines.

What are cytokines?

Cytokines are proteins that influence the survival and proliferation of immune cells. They also have a key role in initiating the inflammatory response. Some cytokines are anti-inflammatory and some are pro-inflammatory.


Also, C-reactive protein (CRP) is another substance produced by the liver that indicates systemic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is considered as a sustained two-to-three fold increase in some cytokines and CRP.

Strength Training and Inflammation

Flossing, omega-3 fatty acid intake, and low-intensity physical activity help decrease systemic inflammation. However, strength training’s impact on inflammation isn’t as well known.


Researchers at the University of Connecticut recently analyzed the few studies that do exist on the relationship between the two [1].


Microscopic muscle damage occurs during strength training, especially during the lowering phase of a repetition. The researchers found a variety of results with strength training and inflammation….

Does Lifting Weights Cause Inflammation?

As a result of workout-induced muscle damage, inflammation rises in the short term, and the production of several cytokines increases (although not all are pro-inflammatory).


As a whole, the cytokines released right after strength training have two major responsibilities: repair the muscle damage and regulate new muscle growth. Both are positive responses.

Does Weight Training Reduce Inflammation?

Fortunately, strength training also actually improves chronic inflammation. A 12-month study using strength training with overweight women averaging 39 years old showed a decrease in CRP.


A nine-week study featuring young men and women training with heavier weight loads caused a decrease in one pro-inflammatory cytokine.


Strength training also improved CRP in a three-month study with old and young populations. These were just some of the positive results reported by the University of Connecticut researchers.


The researchers did note that intensity was a key factor. A seven-week study of young men showed that heavy resistance strength training improved two anti-inflammatory cytokines to a greater extent than lighter weight strength training. Another important factor was rest. According to one study, when adequate rest isn’t achieved, exercise can be pro-inflammatory.


What is the mechanism causing strength training to benefit chronic inflammation? The researchers stated that muscle gained from strength training increases the body’s daily energy expenditure (metabolism) and insulin sensitivity (a state key to preventing diabetes), and both of those results decrease the requirement for pro-inflammatory cytokines and CRP.

Should You Strength Train or Not With Inflammation?

Overall, strength training increases some acute inflammation markers by breaking down muscle tissue, but those markers lead to long term health benefits by rebuilding the muscle stronger.

Therefore, strength training’s positive effects on chronic inflammation levels are probably part of why it is shown to decrease the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

To maximize your health gains, eat well, train with a challenging strength training program (like slow-motion training!), and get adequate rest between your workouts.

If you want more information on how to incorporate slow-motion strength training into your workout routine, we have a free introductory session. If you’d like to know more about how to work with a trainer online, get a free consultation call with a Personal Trainer.

1. Calle, M. C., & Fernandez, M. L. (2010). Effects of resistance training on the inflammatory response. Nutrition research and practice, 4(4), 259-269.


2. Lee, C. H., & Giuliani, F. (2019). The Role of Inflammation in Depression and Fatigue. Frontiers in immunology, 10, 1696. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2019.01696