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April 11, 2021  
BACK NEWS: Feature Story

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  • Fit for Life – Part Two

    Fit for Life – Part Two


    August 18, 2006

    Part One | Part Two

    By: Jean Johnson for Back1


    It’s a New Millennium in Fitness Training

    Goals, yes, says Dan Duvall. But getting too carried away, no.

    He has been through the no pain, no gain era of the 1980s when trainers were akin to militaristic drill instructors and women wanted to look like Madonna. These days, though, he thinks the new era’s focus on staying fit in order to enjoy life whether it be as a dragon boat racer or simply an aging baby boomer is where it’s at.

    “A lot of the people I train, they do take it slowly. They don’t want to get injured, and since they are mostly older and a little bit more sensible, they are not looking to prove anything. I do have a couple 16 and 17 year-old guys and I have to hold them back a little bit,” he said, his eyes crinkling into wise smile. “But what happens when we take this kind of approach is that people tend to remain in the gym training injury free.”
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    Build Your Core Strength

    Anyone can do these core strength exercises to get started toward their fitness goals. The trick is starting with whatever number of repetitions that are right for your body’s current condition and then doing two or three sets. Dan Duvall – with the caveat that anyone with injuries should check with their physician before starting a fitness program – advises the following protocols:

    Upper Ab Crunches: Keep your knees bent to take the pressure off the lower back. Cross your arms over your chest and let your head fall back so that the focus on the abs, not the neck muscles.

    Lower Ab Crunches: With the knees bent lift the legs up and down in a smooth, slow motion.

    Lower Back Bridge: In slow, steady movements with the feet hip width apart, raise the hips as far as they will go up into an arch and then lower.

    Lower Back Strengthening: On your hands and knees, first lift the left leg and right arm to perpendicular positions, holding momentarily. In a sustained, easy motion, bring the limbs back to starting and switch to the right leg and left arm. Alternate these motions, doing whatever number is appropriate for your body and after resting, completing a second set to build endurance. (If balance is a problem, sitting on a particular object off the tips of your fingers can help, as can resting your trunk on a large Swiss exercise ball.)

    Duvall considers for a moment as we walk though the weight room, and he greets a body builder. “Mainly, when we give a person a way to approach fitness training reasonably rather than to knock themselves out, I think they tend to take it. We break down their long-term goal into achievable parts, and slowly, but surely it happens if they stick with it.”

    Getting Started – Trying a Trainer?

    According to Duvall, getting fit has got to be fun if we are going to stay around for the long haul.

    “But that’s just the problem,” said Marsha Bok of Seattle. “How can rote exercises be any fun? Even in my case where I do have a lower back injury that my physician said needs exercising if I’m going to do well as I age. I’m still not as vigilant as I need to be.

    “It’s just that all those sit-ups and push-ups and cat-cow thingies get old. I have a tape I use at home, and I can go for months and be a trooper, but then my real self comes back and I don’t touch a thing – like I am right now.”

    Bok says that if joining a fitness club helped she would, but the last time she did, she ended up fading away there as well. She acquiesces, however, that she’s never tried hiring a trainer. “I guess I always thought they would be too expensive. But I hear they are more reasonable than they used to be. My neighbor has one, and she says the rate’s not bad.”

    Back1’s best checking found rates from $25 to $90 an hour, and currently Duvall charges $40, giving clients who purchase a dozen sessions a further discount. He notes, though, that in the larger scheme of things, the cost of a personal trainer can pay off handsomely.

    “One thing we do is help people learn to prioritize their workouts,” he said. “People have learned that fitness is important, but they haven’t learned how to prioritize it. They know how to put things like their job or paying their bills first because if they don’t something bad will happen. On fitness, however, if you neglect your body, the effects probably won’t be immediately overwhelming.”

    Duvall continues that one of the roles a trainer plays is to help people put their health right up there on their to-do lists. It’s all about opening up your calendar or appointment book and entering in the date – in ink.

    Sigh, says Bok. “All fine and good, but when it comes time to work out, if my back’s not hurting, I can think of so many other things I’d rather do than exercise. I know I shouldn’t. My meditation teacher says that it doesn’t matter whether you want to do something or not, you can still sit yourself down and go through the motions.”

    In response to Bok’s problem, Duvall suggests two things: Keep your workouts reasonable and vary them so you won’t get bored. Further, he points out that both of those factors are much easy to control when a person works with a personal trainer.

    “What we do is help people make their workouts enjoyable. If they enjoy them, they will look forward to coming in and going through their paces. It’s all about seeking pleasure and avoiding pain,” he said. “Many people will come and push themselves too hard. It’s a common problem.

    “That’s why when people first get into a gym if their initial goal is just to be consistent and do something that is easily accomplished, they can start to get in the habit of working out without it being too traumatic.

    “The other thing we do is suggest different exercises to keep people from getting bored. On the lower back, for example, we can suggest dozens of ways to work on this area of the body. The Nautilus machines, the mats and the Swiss balls, the weight room,” Duvall said.

    “It’s easy for someone working on their own to get into a rut since to learn a new exercise takes overcoming some initial inertia,” he added. “Because trainers understand the principles and are familiar with the variations, they can really be an asset in helping their clients keep their workouts fresh.”

    A workout that’s not too difficult and keeps not only the back but the whole body tuned? One that changes often enough to keep both the body and the mind engaged? Where do we sign up?

    Last updated: 18-Aug-06

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