Fight Loneliness with Us and Exercise

Everybody has felt lonely at some point or another.

But chronic loneliness is something else – and something altogether sinister, for individuals and for society.

“It is associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, stroke, depression, anxiety, and premature death,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy wrote this month in his report on “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation.”

It gets worse. Murthy says, “The mortality impact of being socially disconnected is similar to that caused by smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity and physical inactivity.”

Social isolation is especially acute for many people later in life. Some have lost life partners and live alone, and some have stopped going to work, while adult children often have moved far away.

We believe that fitness facilities such as ours are crucial to helping people of all ages be physically fit – and socially connected to whatever degree you like.

When you regularly work out with us, you find support, encouragement, and accountability. And — importantly — you find it’s mutual, meaning other people need you, too. We’ve seen countless members find positive relationships of all kinds here – from casual acquaintances like some people find at a favorite watering hole… to fully committed friendships and romantic partnerships … to the enjoyment of group outings.

Even if none of that appeals to you, we believe you’ll gain valuable social interaction just by coming to work out with us a few times a week.

There’s no need to be lonely. Come see us today.


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

How Old Are You? Well, That Depends!

They say age ain’t nothing but a number.

OK, fine.

But which number?

When someone asks, “How old are you?” do they mean your chronological age – which is how many years you’ve been on the earth?

Do they mean your biological age, which is how old you are in terms of your physical health, aging cells, biomarkers, etc?

Or do they mean your subjective age, or how old you feel in your mind – your self-image?

It’s interesting to think about. On the one hand, you can’t do anything to change your chronological age. You are 52 or 79 or whatever, and the number reliably changes once a year (until it doesn’t).

Of course, we can change our biological age by practicing healthy habits, like exercising regularly, eating well, and avoiding cigarettes, alcohol, and drug abuse.

What about that last one – subjective age? Well, now, that one’s much more a mind game.

Minus 20 percent

A Pulitzer Prize-winning writer in an Atlantic essay said people seem to have an “intuitive grasp of this highly abstract concept – ‘subjective age.’”

The BBC wrote about the idea, too.

And the American Psychological Association even investigated whether our feelings about our “subjective age” can affect health and longevity.

Studies show that teenagers and young adults tend to think of themselves as older – maybe because they’re eager to start living their adult lives and being perceived as legitimate.

But after 40 or so, people begin thinking of themselves as being 20 percent younger. So, if you’re 60, you might think of yourself as being 48.

It’s why we are sometimes startled by looking in the mirror. Or by seeing current pictures of childhood friends on Facebook and wondering why they look so old.

Neither good nor bad

 Here’s the thing. Subjective age isn’t good or bad, just like chronological age on its own. If you’re 72, then you’re 72. If you instinctively feel 58 or so, that’s fine, too.

What’s NOT fine is being biologically older because you’re not exercising, eating right, and taking care of yourself. You can change that one!

There might be some scientific reasons for feeling like we’re a little younger than we are – or even a little older, since that happens, too.

It doesn’t mean we’re delusional. It doesn’t mean we’re desperately trying to be young again.

But it might mean that we still feel like we have a lot of life ahead of us, that we have things to do and place to go and people to meet.

That we’re not ready to give up on life, or ourselves, just yet.

And that’s where fitness comes into play. When you have the strength, agility, and endurance of health and vigor, guess what? You have a higher quality of life, more independence, and a greater ability to do what you want to do.

We’re here to help show you how. Come see us today.


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

How to Eat Well When It’s a Challenge

Do you ever find yourself without healthy options for eating out? It’s hard when you’re driving and see only fast-food restaurants. If you’re in an airport and want a sit-down restaurant, you’ll probably be limited to the big chains.

We all know that it’s harder to eat healthy and stick to your diet at a restaurant than at home. Chains, even those without a drive-thru window, can be extra dicey, with oversized portions, high fat and sky-high sodium.

We’re not promoting fast food or any particular chain – but sometimes, you do get stuck in a food desert. Keep a few principles in mind and you should be OK.

  • Look for “light” offerings at places like Denny’s.
  • Watch out for enormous entrees. Split main dishes with a companion.
  • Order dressing on the side.
  • Favor baked or grilled fish and chicken.
  • Get fruit or side salad instead of fries.
  • Drink water or tea instead of soda (even diet soda).

From EatThis.comThe Food Network, and Good Housekeeping, here’s a fast-food sampling to get you thinking about not-so-terrible options.

  • Arby’s: Roast Turkey Farmhouse Salad. 240 calories, 13g fat
  • Burger King: Grilled Chicken Sandwich. Skip the honey mustard sauce. 430 calories, 11g fat, 40g protein
  • McDonald’s Classic Cheeseburger. 300 calories, 12g fat
  • Olive Garden: Herb-grilled salmon and broccoli. 460 calories, 29g fat, 960mg sodium, 26g protein
  • Panera: Asian Sesame Chicken Salad. 410 calories, 21g fat, 540mg sodium, 32g protein


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

Strength Helps Him Be an Active Granddad

What type of grandparent do you want to be?

The strong and healthy kind that plays with the grandkids, even learning new sports later in life?

Or the frail, retreating kind that sits and watches, instead?

Well, we all know which we would rather be: strong and healthy, right?

Strength makes all the difference as we age. We all lose muscle as we age unless we practice resistance training to maintain muscle. Without it, we get to the point where we simply can’t do much of anything.

But for Vincent Bednar, strength was no impediment when his grandsons asked him to go downhill skiing with him when he was 70.

That’s because Vincent had been working out for decades and had the ability to take up the kids on their invitation.

“It’s an awful lot of fun,” says Vincent, now 74, a retired landscape architect. “It was an event when the whole family would go skiing, and the boys asked me to go with them. It was really wonderful.”

Grandkids As Fitness Motivation

No one wants to be the boring Nana or Pop-Pop, right? In fact, enjoying their grandchildren is one of the top reasons why people over 50 decide to get in shape or stay in shape.

  • Today’s grandparents want to share experiences with their grandkids, not just buy them things.
  • Almost 70% live within 50 miles.
  • And polls show that grandparenting stands out as one of the most positive aspects of later life.

For Julie, 63, being fit means she and her husband can play golf and travel. But the granddaughter is No. 1. That’s what got her going and what keeps her working out.

“I want to be an active grandparent, not a standby grandparent,” says Julie. “I want to get on the floor and pick her up and swim and do all those things. I don’t want to miss a thing.”

Strength Is Key

Skiing requires strength, agility and endurance. And none of that was an issue for Vincent, who started lifting weights in his 40s to manage common middle-age spread. He enjoyed it and found it effective for decades. But when he quit smoking in his early 60s, Vincent gained 30 pounds on his 5-foot, 8-inch frame and ballooned to 210.

He redoubled his commitment to strength training and to eating right and quickly went back down to his fighting weight of 180. So, he was ready when skiing called.

He’s been on the slopes countless times on his own and with the boys. Now, the family is planning a ski trip to an Oregon next winter before the grandsons go off to college.

“I wish I had started decades earlier,” he says. “The kids were really encouraging and helpful.”

His philosophy is based on making the most of life and time with his family, at any age.

“You’ve gotta be able to move, to stay active and enjoy yourself,” he says. “I don’t want to lose the ability to do those things. And you can’t do any of them if you’re not strong.”


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

11 Tips to Move More Every Day

It’s easy to move more throughout the day when you know how to spot the opportunities. Every little bit adds up!

Here are some of the simplest ways to do it.

  1. Start the day with a few light stretches.
  2. Always park at the far end of lots so you’ll walk extra steps to your destination. (Skip the drive-thru.)
  3. Use stairs instead of elevators when possible. (And forget about moving walkways at the airport!)
  4. Invite coworkers on walking meetings.
  5. Use a standing desk and make calls when standing or walking.
  6. Set a timer to remind you to get up and walk every 30 minutes, at work or at home.
  7. Ask friends or dates to do something active together instead of sitting for a meal.
  8. Dance around when cooking or cleaning the house.
  9. Never stay seated for a commercial break. Get up and move!
  10. Go check the mail every day.
  11. Wear a fitness tracker. It will keep movement top of mind.

Steps like these are easy to see when we think a bit creatively. Have fun. And move, move, move – it feels so good.


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

Invest the Time and Money – You DO Have Both!

Here’s the thing about excuses: They’re nonsense.

(There’s another popular term we won’t use here.)

You say you don’t have time or money to take care of yourself? How about, “I’m too old” for good measure?

Those are the most common barriers to fitness that we hear. They are all NONSENSE.

Facts are: You have the time and money – and you are NEVER TOO OLD to benefit from exercise. In fact, by this point in life, you probably have the extra super-power of motivation that younger people simply lack: If you don’t move your body, you will lose the ability to use it. Period.

No. 1: ‘I Don’t Have Time’

To paraphrase a famous saying, People who don’t have time to stay strong will lose more time when they get weak.

Let’s say people get an average of 25,915 days, or about 71 years, to live. Of that, they spend just 0.69 percent (or 180 days) exercising. That’s according to a survey of more than 9,000 people around the world.

The survey also reports that people stare at a screen 41 percent of the time, or 10,625 days.

The World Health Organization and the US government suggest people get at least 2½ hours every week of moderate-intensity exercise. A Harvard study says that just 15 minutes a day can add three years to your life. And the Journal of the American Medical Association said that not exercising puts you at greater risk than smoking and diabetes.

Still say you don’t have time?

‘It’s Too Expensive’

Last time we checked, walking around the neighborhood was free. So was working in the garden. So was tossing a frisbee with your grandkids. So were jogging and countless other forms of good exercise.

If you want to join a studio, gym, or other fitness center, there are many options for every budget.

Exercise reduces healthcare costs, including medications, and the time lost to illness and injury. Investing in yourself with fitness pays huge dividends, including financially.

Compare it to…

  1. Tall café latte at Starbucks: $2.95, plus tax. Multiplied by how many you have a month.
  2. Cable or Satellite TV. Subscribers paid an average of $107 per month in 2017.
  3. Hair coloring and highlights: About $80-$150.
  4. Smoking and drinking: The average Boomer who still smokes spends about $150 a month on the habit, not counting health care costs, the Labor Department says. Boomers average another $45 a month on alcohol.

Now, we’re not saying you should spend more or less on this or that item – even fitness. The quality of your exercise program is not directly related to the amount of money you spend on it.

That’s why we consider our pricing very seriously to offer you excellence and value every day.

Think of it as an investment in time and money. The best investment you can make.

At any age.


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

Physical Exercise Is Essential for Mental Health, Too

At every stage in life, physical health is tied to mental health. When we feel good physically, we’re more likely to feel good mentally, as well.

And with dementia, depression, anxiety, and loneliness higher among people later in life, this is one more reason to get or stay physically fit.

The World Health Organization has six tips for good mental health, and May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Four of WHO’s reasons are clearly connected to physical fitness.

  1. Be active
  2. Enjoy walks with your family and friends.
  3. Get 8 hours of sleep every day.
  4. Eat healthy.
  5. Talk about your feelings with someone you trust.
  6. Look for professional help if you need it.

What could be clearer that exercise is essential for our ongoing mental health?

We know from other sources, as well, that exercise is good for our brains. It boosts body chemicals that lower stress and improve mood, focus, and energy. Exercise even builds up the capacity of parts of your brain associated with memory and learning, the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex.

Fitness centers like ours provide invaluable opportunities for social connections and support, leading to even better health, at a time in life when many people struggle with isolation. One study says being lonely is as damaging to lifespan as smoking cigarettes; another links it to high blood pressure. Yet another connects leisure activities with a reduced risk of dementia.

Join us – and start feeling and thinking better right away.


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

Why He Switched from Running to Strength Training

Back in graduate school more than 30 years ago, Rami Odeh worked on an early study to learn if people over 80 could see any benefits from weight training.

Back then, conventional wisdom said it was hopeless. But the study found the opposite.

“We had 90-year-olds doubling their strength,” Rami, now 60 and a fitness coach, gym owner, and author, recalls.

Throughout the decades since, Rami never forgot that powerful finding. And when he decided to transform his distance runner’s body into a muscle machine by 60, it helped fuel his fire. (You can see his results in the photos above, taken a year apart.)

“The No. 1 link to all-cause mortality is the amount of muscle tissue you have on your body,” he says. “It’s not your heart health. It’s not your lung health. It’s not your diabetes. They all matter. But the amount of muscle that you can hold onto is the No. 1 correlation to all-cause mortality. So, weight training is the key.”

Everyone Needs Strength Training

The story behind Rami’s compelling before-and-after is relevant for anyone over 50 who worries it might be too late to gain muscle, even if you understand how crucial it is to healthy aging.

First, understand this: You don’t have to want Rami’s dramatic, magazine-ready results to practice strength training. He happens to be one of those intense individuals who thrives on extreme challenges – and he wanted to see his abs (a common desire of men at any age).

But if we don’t practice strength training, we lose muscle mass, which leads to frailty, falls, obesity, loss of independence, and a ton of other problems that nobody wants.

If you think strength training is just for bodybuilders – or obsessive types like Rami – imagine getting off the toilet without any muscle. Or lifting your grandchild. Or bringing in the groceries.

Got it?

Movement Above All Else

“First and foremost, let’s get people moving, whatever it takes,” says Rami. “But ultimately, If you’re not weight-training, you’re not really going to change your body and you’re not really going to live longer.

“The benefits apply to real life – that’s how we need to talk about it. From feeling great at the beach to feeling good with your spouse… knowing you can play with your grandkid in the pool and not throw your back out…”

Rami worked so hard to pack on all that muscle because he wanted to prove to others that it’s possible – even after a lifetime of long-distance running at the expense of his muscle mass.

He says it’s key to have powerful motivation of your own.

“The majority of people I work with just want to be the best that they can be,” and weight training delivers peak functional fitness and time efficiency.

“If you focus on weight training, which is the best bang for your buck, the time is so little,” Rami found. “You don’t have to spend all day in the gym.”

We agree. Come see us and we’ll help develop a plan for your unique goals.


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

Studies Link Obesity to Smaller Brains

Being obese means having a bigger body, of course. But research indicates it also means having a smaller brain – and a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

“The more we understand about (body fat), the clearer it becomes that belly fat is its own disease-generating organism,” said Dr. Lenore Launer in a statement by the National Institutes of Health.

Several studies in recent years have addressed the link between obesity and brain health.

“Research shows obesity impacts brain health from childhood well into adulthood, affecting everything from executive function skills – the complex ability to initiate, plan and carry out tasks – to substantially raising dementia risk,” says the American Heart Association.

Time magazine shared another study that suggests eliminating excess fat can improve brain function — and that exercise can reverse brain damage that was possibly caused by fat. Obese adults are 35 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. One expert says obese people’s brains are 8 percent smaller.

It’s not clear why. But other health conditions that affect inactive older people – like high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes – are also linked to obesity.

Eating right and staying at a healthy weight are good for brain health, increasing blood circulation throughout the body, including the brain.

The connection between body and brain health continues to emerge. It’s just one more reason to take better care of yourself through a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise.

Your body and your brain depend on it.


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