Story by Pam Woolway
Exercise. Eight little letters that can make the mind and muscles cringe.
Now reach down to pick up that sock from the living room floor. Did it smart a bit?
If you’re an adult over 40, doing nearly nothing can cause injury.
“Go go go. It’s the American way,” said Kaua’i Athletic Club personal trainer, Pam Kruse. “We don’t make time for our bodies as we get older.”
And once we hit 40 it becomes even harder to reverse the body’s decay, according to Dan Schaal, physical therapist and owner of ‘Ohana Sports Medicine in Kalaheo.
“People are living into their 70’s or 80’s whether healthy or not. You have to make a choice to be healthy.”
Injury and aging change the body and Kruse has made a career of teaching people how to evolve with those changes. She calls it a “return to function.”
“It’s about restoring muscular balance in the body,” said the veteran triathlete.
A decade of competing taught her a thing or two about self-care. Multiple injuries were the impetus for shifting from the competitive camp of athletes to one focused on healing the body.
“Once your eight physical therapy visits
Kruse consults with physical therapists and nutritionists in order to better support her clients.
Schaal is a big believer in coaching. Rather than go into an intense aerobic workout, he recommends seeking assistance.
“When recovering from an injury you don’t want to go it alone,” he said.
Two key things keep people exercising.
“If it’s a social obligation and if you make it fun,” he said. “The social part is important because when it’s an obligation, you tend to stick with it.”
Kruse, a post-rehab specialist, has transformed her own training practice.
“I’ve evolved with my clients and the aging process,” she said. “In your 20’s it’s about looking good and at 40 it’s about living.”
What’s the time commitment when you hire a personal trainer?
Kruse recommends a 12-week commitment.
The first month focuses on form and technique; the second builds on the foundation and the third month is when complex movement patterns are added.
“At first the brain and muscle are learning to communicate,” she said.
Part of the foundation means teaching or rather, reminding body parts they speak the same language. Kruse is nothing short of a diplomat providing the introductions.
“The small muscles need to know they have a job.”
Large muscle groups tend to over-compensate while smaller ones atrophy from lack of use. Kruse’s workout program involves every one.
New Year’s resolutions compel people to jump off the couch and into a high-intensity workout, preempting that critical evolution of a shared vocabulary.
“Once hurt, are you going to go back to exercise? Not likely,” she said. “Restoring balance to the body takes time.”
By the third month training has developed in complexity.
“This time is when we translate exercise into whatever you do in life 24-7.”
The body recovers from the initial discomfort of using new muscles and Kruse swears by the addictive nature of being in motion.
“What keeps people motivated is that endorphin relief that you get when you exercise. You release stress and that feels really good in the body,” she said. “Once the motivation clicks in, exercising becomes as necessary as brushing your teeth.”