John Kelly's blog

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Two guys walk into a gym once a week, guess what happens eleven years later?

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Jim is 78 years old. His friends no longer exercise. One friend who couldn’t get out of squat position, asked him if he could still squat. He responded, “Hell, I can do it with weights”.

John is a psychologist. He is 75. One of his patients is the same age and lives in a senior care facility. John lives at home.

Both Jim and John have been coming to our Austin Personal Training location for once-a-week 30 minutes exercise sessions for the past eleven years. Had John or Jim not exercised the past 11 years it is likely they’d be in the same physical state as some of their contemporaries. 

One session a week has been shown to be optimal for strength gains
for seniors.  It is not how much exercise you can withstand it is how little you need to produce positive change.  Do a little more each week, and over time, it will be transformative.

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You want more life? ‘Cause this is how you get more life…

Higher effort exercise increases longevity

If exercise is not demanding there is no reason for the body to change. According to a study you will live longer if the exercise you do is more demanding. From the study, A higher effort-based paradigm in physical activity and exercise for public health: making the case for a greater emphasis on resistance training:

“It appears that risk reductions [in morbidities and all-cause mortality] are greater when physical activity and/or exercise is performed at a higher intensity of effort.… A mode customarily performed to a relatively high intensity of effort that we believe has been overlooked is resistance training [strength training]. “

High intensity interval training (HIIT) for strength, the training we do at New Orleans Fitness Training and Austin Fitness Training, will positively affect:

Body density

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How to reverse age-related energy decline

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Mitochondria, found in most cells, is where respiration and energy production takes place. As we age mitochondria become impaired and energy production declines. A study sought to determine if high-intensity interval training (HIIT) could reverse that trend.

Two groups did HIIT workouts for 12 weeks - men and women ages 18 to 30 and men and women ages 65 to 80. From this article about the study, High-Intensity Interval Training Helps Slow Down the Aging Process the results:

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The dire metabolic consequences of physical inactivity

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If you become a little less active and gain five pounds a year, that is not aging graceful. After a couple decades of that you’ll have 100 extra pounds of fat that may lead to metabolic syndrome - hyperinsulinemia, dyslipidemia, hypertension, hyperglycemia, and abdominal obesity. Your joints hurt, your feet hurt, and your breathing and walking become labored. Muscles weaken, and energy producing mitochondria go into an advanced state of disrepair. All this leads to more inactivity and eventually a heart attack or stroke.

From this study, Metabolic consequences of physical inactivity:

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Study finds maintaining aerobic capacity requires persistent training while maintaining muscle anaerobic potential does not

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How long does it take to get back up to peak performance after a long break from exercise? According to one study, that depends on whether the exercise is primarily aerobic or anaerobic.

From the study Enzyme adaptations of human skeletal muscle during bicycle short-sprint training and detraining:

“A long interruption in training has negligible effects on short-sprint ability and muscle anaerobic potential. On the other hand, a persistent training stimulus is required to maintain high aerobic capacity and muscle oxidative potential. This may contribute to a rapid return to competitive fitness for sprinters and power athletes.”

In the study bike sprinters trained for nine weeks followed by seven weeks of detraining (no training). Researchers found that the sprinters’ aerobic enzyme levels fell, while their anaerobic enzyme levels remained high for the seven weeks of detraining.  There were negligible effects on muscle anaerobic potential means the subjects remained strong.

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The best exercise for aging muscles

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As we age muscles weaken, cell damage accumulates, and mitochondria, which produce energy, decline in number and energy output. A study sought to determine what type of exercise might best repair that mitochondria damage.

The study was composed of two groups, men and women under thirty and men and women over 64. Subjects were further divided into four sub-groups. Each group did one of the following exercise regimens for 12 weeks:

  • Vigorous weight lifting
  • Moderate bike riding plus light weight lifting
  • Interval training on a bike
  • Those who did nothing

As would be expected weight lifters experienced gains in muscle and strength, and the bike interval trainers increased endurance. Unexpectedly were the changes measured in the cells. From the NYT article reporting on the study, The Best Exercise for Aging Muscles - NYTimes.com, this quote:

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Study shows how people waste time exercising

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In a study, one group lifted weights for nine weeks (Continuous resistance training – CRT), while another group lifted for six weeks followed by a three weeks rest (Periodic resistance training - PTR). After the first nine week cycle the groups’ results were similar. The cycle was repeated for nine more weeks, and PTR group’s results were significantly higher.

A quote from the study, Comparison of muscle hypertrophy following 6-month of continuous and periodic strength training:

“Increase in muscle cross-sectional area [of muscle] and strength during the second 3-week detraining/6-week retraining cycle were significantly higher in the PTR group than in the CTR group.”

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For women to decrease mortality risk: lift weights like your life depends on it

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A study followed 750 women aged 50-94 years for a decade.  Researchers wanted to see the effect of changes in bone mineral density (BMD) and appendicular lean mass (ALM) on mortality. The study found that deaths increased as BMD and ALM diminished irrespective of age.

A quote from the study, Musculoskeletal decline and mortality: prospective data from the Geelong Osteoporosis Study:

“Poor musculoskeletal health increased the risk for mortality independent of age. This appears to be driven mainly by a decline in bone mass. Low lean mass independently exacerbated mortality risk, and this appeared to operate through poor health exposures.”

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Daisy Mettlach-Holderfield 1982 - 2017

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On Friday, August 12 Daisy came to work as usual. Out of nowhere she collapsed and lost consciousness. We learned later that she had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke brought on by several tumors in her brain. She was rushed to the hospital for life-saving brain surgery.

Against the odds she returned to work, first in a wheelchair and then with the aid of a walker. Her husband Scott drove her to and from work every day. Eventually she drove herself. She appeared to be getting stronger every day, but we couldn't see what was going on inside her body. We saw the outward manifestation of her fight against disease.

She fought bravely. Words are inadequate to describe that bravery. Daisy was a sweet and kind often docile person who also possessed a fierce determination which surprised us all. She was well liked, respected, and very good at her job. She had a positive impact on the lives of her many clients. She was a part of our lives for ten years, and she will be in our hearts forever.

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A long list of cardiorespiratory fitness benefits from high intensity interval training

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From the American Heart Association Scientific Statement, Importance of Assessing Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Clinical Practice: A Case for Fitness as a Clinical Vital Sign: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association | Circulation, an excerpt:

“Cardiorespiratory fitness is a potentially stronger predictor of mortality than established risk factors such as smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes mellitus.”

It is important to note that muscles stimulate the cardiovascular system to make positive changes, not the other way around. When the muscles are too weak to push the cardiovascular system, cardiorespiratory fitness declines. High intensity interval training (HIIT) increases strength and promotes cardiorespiratory fitness. The benefits:

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