Cher’s Fitness Turns Back Time at 75

Image of Cher at age 75We’ve all been watching Cher for so many decades now that she seems ageless. From hippie singer to TV variety star to Oscar-winning actress and more, it seems there has always been Cher.

And as she just turned 75, it’s worth a look at how she has turned back time (as one of her songs goes) and what the rest of us can pick up from the legend.

Sure, rich and pampered celebs have it easier than the rest of us. But there’s always been something so relatable to Cher. You can’t help but feel like she’s real, despite everything.

Here are some tips and comments she has made in the media.

  • She works out five days a week with a trainer who doesn’t let her “play the age card.”
  • She can hold a five-minute plank.
  • “I’ve killed myself in the gym to have this body. It isn’t like I have some amazing secret that nobody else has.”
  • She likes sweet potatoes, salads, brown rice, vegetables, pasta and fruit, she wrote in her book, “Cher Forever Fit: The Lifetime Plan for Health, Fitness, and Beauty.”
  • She avoids cigarettes and alcohol.
  • “Being healthy has always been part of my life. It just works for me.”

And that’s something that should apply to all of us!

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.

Sunny Season Reminds Us to Keep Moving, Indoors or Out

Image of Palm Spring Fitness GroupTed Guice found his over-50 paradise with the thousands of retirees in sunny Palm Springs, California.

Ted’s been working as a trainer there for years, leading a popular “boot camp-aerobics” style workout class.

When the pandemic hit, he took it outside and offered it to the general public for free. And now, as California lifts restrictions and gets back to normal, he’s planning to continue the 50-minute sessions he offered each weekday morning in a city park.

“Palm Springs is such a vibrant place and it’s filled with all of us Baby Boomers,” says Ted, 64. “Across the country, people definitely need to be getting outside this summer.”

That’s one of the many lessons about fitness over 50 that Ted offers to anyone, anywhere.

Fitness for Active Retirement

Ted makes everyone feel welcome, regardless of fitness level or ability. So everyone gets a good workout with a friendly group of people supporting each other.

“Some people retire here and think that’s enough for a healthy lifestyle,” says Ted. “But then they get complacent and sit by the pool and enjoy their food, and before you know it, they find it doesn’t work that way.”

Like active retirement centers everywhere, Palm Springs is full of older people enjoying golf, tennis, hiking, and pickleball.

Many retirees are gym members. Ted has found that people in retirement need structure to their day and consistent means of finding social interaction.

Exercise meets both needs, no matter where you are.

“We started with about 20 people more than a year ago,” he says. “People showed up, and it just built from there. Now in the summer months, we average 45 to 50 people, and during the season it’s 70 to 80 each morning.

“You work out at your own pace. I tell everybody to challenge themselves but take good care of themselves. It’s a lot of fun and a great workout. Every once in a while, we get some muscular young men who come by, and they are always surprised.”

Start Slow, Find a Friend

We want mature adults to get back to moving their bodies, indoors or out. Here’s some more good advice from Ted.

  • “People say, ‘I can’t go to a gym because I’m not fit enough.’ But if you start slow, challenge yourself, and give yourself four to six weeks, you’ll start noticing some real changes in strength, mobility, and coordination.”
  • “You have to ask for help. And if you don’t find it in the first place, then look somewhere else.”
  • “Find a buddy. Find supportive relationships.”
  • “Getting outdoors can improve your whole attitude and open you up to new possibilities.”

Locally, we’re seeing a return to fitness after the pandemic sidelined so many of us. It gave us time to think about our values and goals, and people know more than ever the value of a healthy lifestyle.

So, come talk to us. We can’t wait to show you the fun, inspiring methods we have for helping you enjoy your best life.

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.

Staying Strong Against Ageism

Image of four elder people lifting weights in a row.Ageism is ugly, mean, and stupid – and it’s also dangerous to your health.

The good news? By exercising regularly and living a healthy lifestyle, you’re achieving two awesome tasks:

  • Overcoming ageism’s negative effects on you
  • Setting an example to show other people over 50 they can do the same

The UN and the World Health Organization reported this year that half of us have ageist views – and that these lead to poorer physical and mental health, and reduced quality of life for older people.

“The response to control the COVID-19 pandemic has unveiled just how widespread ageism is,” WHO says. WHO says that by 2050, the world will have 2 billion people over 60. That’s more than double the number in 2015.

WHO added something we always say: “Strength training to maintain muscle mass and good nutrition can both help to preserve cognitive function, delay care dependency, and reverse frailty.”

Researchers from Texas A&M found that people over 60 are told to limit their physical activity based on outdated stereotypes. They even impose harmful limits on themselves, believing (wrongly) that they shouldn’t exercise because of their age. Then their inactivity breeds frailty, weakness, and poor balance.

“The purpose of highlighting exercise-related ageism is to encourage more seniors to be physically active and set goals based on individual levels of fitness and athletic ability, not chronological age,” The Montreal Gazette reported.

We couldn’t agree more! Call us now and we’ll help you find what’s right for you.

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.

Success Story: Even MS Can’t Keep Her Away from The Gym

Image of Pat Harlow and her trainer at the gym.For Pat Harlow, the symptoms came occasionally at first. She couldn’t remember words. She had double vision and numbness on one side.

Eventually, after a particularly bad episode, Pat was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 48. She kept going to work for 15 years and “pretending that I’m normal,” she says.

But after a fall required two surgeries, Pat’s husband started suggesting she join a gym – an idea she refused at first.

Now, at 71, Pat’s been working with a trainer at the gym three days a week for three years. She even works out at home alone on other days. She absolutely loves it – and is proof positive that exercise later in life can benefit anyone, regardless of physical ability.

While there is no cure for MS, the exercise helps with her symptoms, as well as her emotions and social interaction

“I really did not know that exercise could make such a difference,” she says.

A Disease of the Central Nervous System

The National MS Society says about 1 million Americans have the disease. Most are diagnosed between 20 and 50, and it is two to three times more common among women than men.

“Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body,” the society says. “The cause of MS is still unknown. Scientists believe that a combination of environmental and genetic factors contribute to the risk of developing MS.”

An early symptom is often an MS hug, or a squeezing sensation around the body. Other symptoms include fatigue, trouble walking, numbness, and muscle spasms.

Exercise is helpful in managing many symptoms, the MS society says.

“Many MS patients avoid exercise, thinking it will aggravate pain or make their fatigue worse,” according to Penn Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “But research has shown that the opposite is true – exercise can actually improve symptoms.

The best types of exercise for it are aerobic, stretching, and progressive strength training, Penn doctors say. And we agree that everyone over age 50 or so needs regular exercise to maintain cardiovascular health, agility, and muscle.

Strengthening the Core and Legs

Pat’s trainer works her legs and core, using weights, balance devices, and elliptical trainers. And yes, she does get tired during some of the exercises, but she loves the results of her efforts.

“I’m not down for the count – because I’ve worked out,” she says. “The best part of the workout is when it’s done.”

She now can walk without a cane. She can drive, bring in the groceries, and handle activities of daily living – which include playing with her 5-year-old grandkids. Her balance is better. And her doctors are pleased with the results.

“The world gets smaller with any kind of disability, and there’s a lot of things I can’t do anymore,” says Pat, who credits her strong faith for her resilience and discipline. “I just didn’t want my world to continue to get small. Exercise has made a huge difference.

“We don’t always get to make some critical decision in life — they’re made for us. And then it’s how we respond.”

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.

Why There’s No ‘Low Protein’ Diet

Arrangement of proteins on a table with the word "protein" written a chalkboard You’ve heard of low-carb diets and low-fat diets. But you’ve probably never heard of anyone telling you to avoid eating protein –especially after age 50 or so, when we need to double our efforts to get enough of it. You need protein to grow and maintain muscle mass, which we naturally lose as we mature, causing frailty, falls, and more problems. Most of us get protein from meat, eggs, and dairy; vegetarians find plenty in beans, nuts, certain vegetables, soy, and more.

Consider these key points.

  • When we exercise, our muscle cells break down and need repair. (This is all a good thing!) That’s why some people like a protein smoothie right after they exercise.
  • We need protein to produce energy for muscle contractions used in everyday activities of normal life. (Think you’re not using muscle to get off the toilet? Think again.)
  • And here’s a really hot benefit of protein. It has a high “thermic effect,” meaning the body has to burn additional calories to metabolize it. We burn a quarter of our protein calories just as we process what we’ve eaten.
  • Eating protein will minimize the spike in blood sugar levels that comes from eating simple carbohydrates.

Try to get about 1 to 1.2 grams for each pound of body weight, and talk to us if you want more information.
Later in life, our eating desires sometimes change and we inadvertently go light on protein. But this is the time to make sure you’re getting enough.

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.

Fitness after 50 Is a Sliding Scale That Moves Both Ways

Older Couple doing pushups togetherIt’s easy to think of aging as a steady decline. But fitness proves it doesn’t have to be that simple and dreadful. If you exercise regularly, you’re more likely to maintain physical abilities. Period. So think of it as a sliding scale –with physical dependence at one end and being an elite athlete on the other. Nobody wants to be physically dependent, of course. And while most of us don’t aspire to be an elite athlete, everybody wants something in the broad middle there. We want to be fit so we can stay independent and avoid becoming frail for as long as possible. So let’s consider the fitness spectrum for most people after 50. Use it as the “sliding scale” to see where you currently fit –and where you’d like to be.

The Sliding Scale

Here’s how the Functional Aging Institute breaks down the stages, with broad direction on how people in each group can benefit from exercise. It’s a good structure to begin a discussion.

Elite

Description: The most healthy and functional folks, regular exercisers probably involved in recreational sports. They have advanced physical abilities and love working hard at their fitness.

Outlook: “Given their advanced physical abilities, there is really no limit on what they can do in a training session,” says FAI’s Cody Sipe.

Fit

Description: Fit in the area they train but possibly deficient in other areas. Maybe a strong runner has low strength, or a strong man has poor flexibility. There’s such a big range here that FAI notes the distinction between “fully fit” and “semi-fit.”

Outlook: “They need a heavier focus on the specific areas in which they are deficient,” Cody says.

Independent

Description: Can perform daily tasks but don’t participate in any vigorous activities. This is the largest category, and some mature adults get trapped in complacency here. But that can lull them into a dangerous place, where one fall or injury can knock them down to “frail” or “dependent” status.

Outlook: “This group needs a well-rounded mix with a focus on increasingly complex movements and those that challenge dynamic balance.”

Frail

Description: Low functional abilities in most or all aspects –strength, poor balance, energy, etc. These folks need help performing everyday tasks.

Outlook: “They require an emphasis on basic strength and power exercises, as well as basic gait and mobility patterns. Balance movements should be more static and performed with caution because they have a high-risk of falling.

Dependent

Description: Require specialized one-on-one assistance and not candidates for training.

Everyone is different what do you think? Which of these might apply to you? Would you like to maintain your spot on the spectrum or advance? We are here to help you get or stay fit by your own definition, for your own purposes. That can include anything from running triathlons to gardening, from playing with the grandkids to feeling confident in daily tasks. Let’s get you enjoying life on your own terms for as long as possible.

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.

Who’s Ready for Summer Sports and Fun?

Man golfing in the Summer

Has there ever been a happier spring to get outside and enjoy the sunshine, fresh air, and the company of other people? After more than a year of pandemic restrictions, we are increasingly able to enjoy our favorite activities. And just in time for summer! What’s your summer sport or outdoor activity? Tennis? Golf? Running? Gardening? Working out with us will get you ready for any of those and more. You might’ve lost some power in your drive… maybe you’re not as mobile at the knees or as strong in the back as you need to be. Don’t lose the competitive edge –and don’t risk an injury doing something you love. Strength training is essential for all of these activities, and we can show you how to get ready to enjoy summer on your own terms. Want proof? Just look at today’s professional golfers and tennis players compared to the heroes of your childhood. You see more muscle tone, less body fat, and a generally fitter approach. That’s because the elite athletes know they need a strong core, mobility, and flexibility. That means working on their abdomen, back, hips, and glutes in the gym beforehand. Depending on your activity and condition, we might want to introduce cardio and flexibility training, too. The facts are simple: After a year out of commission, we need to get back to our sports and activities –with safety and with strength! Let us show you how.

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.

‘Plant – Based’ Eating Leaves Plenty of Healthy Room

Woman eating a salad.It used to be simple when discussing dietary lifestyle choices. You were a meat-eater or a vegetarian, right? Then came more extremes –“whole food” eating that eliminates processed food, and veganism that cuts out all animal products. But now, not everybody wants to limit their food identity to “strictly this” or “exclusively that.”We recognize that too much meat-eating can be bad for us, and that it’s generally a good idea to eat more plants. So, more and more people are grazing somewhere in between, with a loosely defined idea of “plant-based” eating. This just means you’re getting most of your nutrients from plant-based food but you also include meat sometimes. More popular is taking a meatless day once a week.“Plant-based” ideas are more realistic. They let us see the benefits of eating less meat without feeling pressure to take on a lifestyle.

A Convert on the Road

Bruce Mylrea went through life enjoying meat, French fries, and more components of what he now calls “the worst diet on the planet.”It contributed to his diagnosis of late-stage prostate cancer when was 52. That led him to adopt a whole-food, plant-based diet. If his earlier diet promoted the cancer, he decided to adopt a new one to fight it. Now healthy, Bruce and his wife, Mindy, have written new books about plant-based eating, and they are traveling the country in a mobile home promoting their OneDayToWellness.org website. Their diet relies heavily on what Mindy calls “the beautiful buffet of foods that nature has provided us,” including beans, peas, lentils and seeds; whole grains; high-fat healthy foods like avocados, nuts, and olives; and vegetables and fruit. The Mylreas say they feel and move better and enjoy greater health. Instead of meat, they have found culinary delights with mushrooms, tempeh, and soy. They’ll favor a black bean/quinoa burger over a traditional cheeseburger.“Humans are not designed to eat dairy,” Bruce says. “The research is crystal clear.”

Not Everyone Has to Go So Far

“Meat is often loaded with cholesterol and saturated fat, which have starring roles in poor heart health,” says the American Heart Association. “And processed meats like deli meat, bacon, and sausage often have too much sodium as well. On the other hand, lean meats, skinless poultry, and fish can be good sources of protein.”Plant-based foods are now in 53% of households, according to industry reports. Carl’s Jr. and Burger King have introduced plant-based meat alternatives. Supermarkets teem with“milk” made from almonds, oatmeal, cashews, soy, and pea protein. Only 8 million Americans are vegetarians, but 60 percent want to eat less meat–with weight management and health the main motivators. People in their 50s want emotional wellbeing, mental health, and family time; they’re spending less on meat, alcohol, and caffeine. Baby Boomers, more than any group, have healthy aging on the brain, changing diets to improve health. So talk about it with your family, friends and doctor and us. What’s one easy thing you can do to replace one meat-based meal with a plant-based one?

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.

Take These 5 Steps to Longevity

If you want to live longer, these five steps are key.

  1. Don’t smoke
  2. Keep a healthy weight
  3. Get regular physical activity
  4. Consume a healthy diet
  5. Drink alcohol moderately, if at all

That might not be an earth-shaking list. But the study also put numbers on the extra life expectancy these lifestyle habits can bring.

The findings, published in the journal Circulation, suggest these five behaviors could extend a woman’s life at age 50 by 14 years, and a man’s by 12.

“Regular physical activity” means 30 minutes a day in this study.

All five factors are tied to the top killers – cardiovascular disease and cancer. Taking these steps can make a big difference in your quality of life, as well as your longevity.

In an earlier book called “The Big Five,” a Harvard doctor lists these steps to living longer:

  1. Drink coffee
  2. Exercise
  3. Get Vitamin D
  4. Eat nuts
  5. Meditate

What’s the one suggestion on both lists?

And physical fitness is a key component to the whole big picture. Maintaining or regaining strength, stamina, and flexibility is so important, especially after age 50.

Good decisions build on each other. If you’re exercising right, then you’re more likely to build on that by eating well. And those two steps generally lead to a healthy weight.

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.

Working Out to Honor a Hero and Inspire Others

A US Memorial Day tradition has sprung up in recent years, honoring a Navy Seal officer who was killed in the Afghanistan war.

Thousands of people participate annually. And while the challenge is no doubt grueling, it draws participants who want to challenge their own limits while also honoring an American hero.

This year, Rich Sadiv, 56, is planning to run his first Murph, and the gym owner/champion weightlifter says he is ready.

“I’m really into challenges,” says Rich, pictured above. “I have some interesting goals for when I get to 60, so I’ve been ramping up my running and biking outdoors with my adult kids in recent years.”

Rich owns a large, well-known exercise facility in New Jersey and specializes in training for speed. He has worked with NFL players and other elite athletes and plans to add a focus on over-50 training in the future.

He’s not a veteran, but his beloved grandfather was, and Rich proudly flies the flag every holiday. So, when a Marine employee told him about the Murph, Rich was fired up to try.

The Murph Challenge

The Murph Challenge is the official annual fundraiser of the Lt. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation.

Murphy was an avid CrossFitter, and particularly enjoyed a workout known then as “Body Armor.” While wearing a 20-pound vest, he would run a mile, then do 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats, and then run another mile, all for time.

Murphy was killed June 28, 2005, after exposing himself to enemy fire and knowingly leaving his position of cover to get a clear signal to request support for his team. He was shot more than 14 times but finished the call by saying “Thank you” and continued fighting until he died.

He was awarded the Purple Heart and the US military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor.

After his death, the “Body Armor” workout was renamed in his honor. Every year on Memorial Day, thousands take up the challenge to raise money and honor fallen war heroes.

Participation and awareness are the main points. And some races encourage modifications to make it more accessible. Some runners choose to participate without the vest, for instance.

He’s Been Training

Rich has prepared by running three times a week and practicing calisthenics twice a week. Since he started training, the (mostly) vegan has lost 13 pounds and noted improvements to his heart rate.

He and his daughter plan a marathon this summer on the Appalachian Trail.

And while Rich is admittedly an extreme exerciser, you don’t have to be to participate in these kinds of events — or to maintain your own strength, endurance, and agility, which are so important later in life.

Fitness is for everyone, regardless of the level of intensity.

“Now is the most important time to be training,” he says about being over 50. “The last thing you want to become is sedentary, especially when you’re a little bit older. I’ve got it in my mind being 90 or 100 and still exercising.”

To learn more about Lt. Murphy and the Murph workout, visit The Murph Challenge.

#FitnessIsTheFountainOfYouth

Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.