If anyone had told me that at nearly 70 years I would be looking forward to my personal training session at a gym I would not have believed it. But here I am after six months of weekly sessions of exercise for osteoporosis, loving the feeling of building my strength and knowing that it is a real investment in my current and future wellbeing, especially as I have been diagnosed with osteoporosis.
Suffice to say that I arrived to my first personal training session loaded with fear and negative thoughts, but also a determination to stick it out this time.
That session was about establishing a relationship with the trainer. She took my history and I did a few exercises to establish a strength baseline. I made it clear that I don’t like gyms, that I was trying a twelve week gym program that included a weekly personal training session because otherwise there is no accountability, that I had previously signed up to online classes but again tended to not make the space to actually do them. My aim was to support my bones and general health.
I did not miss a class for the entire twelve weeks, and I was pleased to see lots of older people of all shapes and sizes and fitness levels. I noticed that us ‘oldies’ tended to have our own dress code. I happily signed up for the next twelve week package and requested the same personal trainer.
We’re now working on core strength and balance which I’m finding highly beneficial and fun as my trainer comes up with all sorts of different moves, including throwing and catching balls which I always loved as a child. And the consistency is working, even if it is only once a week.
I can actually get a sense of engaging my core muscles now, whereas at first I would just hope it was happening as I could feel nothing but a sense of weakness in my middle body. Nowadays I’m naturally incorporating intentional movement into my daily activity. For example, my home is split level so I’m up and down a flight of seven steps several times a day and it feels great to be aware of my posture and the strength in my thighs and hips. It’s such a great feeling that exercise for osteoporosis has now become a game. Also, when I get up from a chair I love the feeling of strength I feel as I engage my core muscles and legs rather than using my arms – it feels equally playful and confirming.
What I love most is the relationship with the personal trainers. Mostly I have the same person and I enjoy her youthful enthusiasm, playfulness and encouragement. It’s uplifting to hear “well done” after a set of moves that have challenged – a foil against any thought that “this is too hard” that can creep in. The trainer artfully reduces repetitions when needed, or increases the challenge, responding to my comments or her observation of how I’m moving. I never push beyond my limits or rush, but I am feeling the benefit of a challenge – left to my own devices I can slip into avoidance!
Another benefit of the one-on-one training is that I’m made aware of unconscious habits, such as how I favour my stronger side over the other, and making movements I was totally unaware of such as raising a shoulder, or leaning to one side etc. in some routines. I can self-correct, and I love when my trainer observes and acknowledges that I have done so. Thus, my connection to and relationship with my body is deepening and I am appreciating and enjoying my body so much more. This is significant as in the past I have had a tendency to ‘live in my head’ and consider my body a lost cause!
In addition, I have also signed up for an online exercise for osteoporosis class and I am actually making the space to do classes once or twice a week this time. I love learning more moves, and deepening my understanding of the exercises themselves. I could of course simply go to the gym several times a week, and this may happen in the future, but for now I am accepting that I prefer exercising with someone guiding the moves, whether it be in person or ‘virtual’.
The biggest learning is that consistency and being in the company of others are what work for me, and that I really do enjoy exercise when it is tailored to my needs and capacity. I feel confident in my body, a greater sense of wellbeing, and I understand how building strength and balance will serve me well and offset the problems of falls associated with osteoporosis.
Anne H., Australia
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