HEALTH Zalko urges not giv­ing up due to age

The Georgia Straight - - Health - By

VChar­lie Smith

an­cou­ver gym owner Ron Zalko can re­late to some of the chal­lenges that ag­ing baby boomers face. In nearly four decades op­er­at­ing his own busi­ness in Kit­si­lano, he’s ex­pe­ri­enced ca­reer suc­cess and per­sonal sat­is­fac­tion help­ing his 3,000 mem­bers not only be­come more fit but also de­velop a greater sense of self-worth and con­fi­dence in their day-to-day lives.

In an in­ter­view in the back of­fice of Ron Zalko Fit­ness & Yoga, he pointed out that as peo­ple move into their later years—par­tic­u­larly af­ter re­tir­ing—they can some­times feel more list­less. Ac­cord­ing to him, they com­monly stop wor­ry­ing about how they look to the out­side world, so they might pay less at­ten­tion to nu­tri­tion. And in his mind, that can sow the seeds for more rapid de­cline in their later years.

“They some­times don’t care about how they feel,” Zalko ex­plained.

He said that peo­ple can over­come the in­er­tia that leads them to avoid ex­er­cis­ing by re­tain­ing a per­sonal trainer at his gym. An­other op­tion is join­ing groups of five or six baby boomers in a low-im­pact ex­er­cise pro­gram.

There are a va­ri­ety of fit­ness reg­i­mens for peo­ple over the age of 55, in­clud­ing high-in­ten­sity in­ter­val train­ing, body-weight train­ing, strength train­ing, yoga, and func­tional train­ing.

“They can go at their own pace and lis­ten to their own body,” he noted.

High-in­ten­sity in­ter­val train­ing in­cludes car­dio, stretch­ing, and some weight train­ing. The goal is to work on the up­per body, waist, hips, thighs, and glutes—and par­tic­u­larly the core, which in­cludes all the mus­cles in the mid­sec­tion.

Zalko noted that this is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant be­cause the core sup­ports and sta­bi­lizes the en­tire body. One way to strengthen this area is by do­ing Pi­lates.

“I have lots of baby boomers here,” he said. “They come three to four times a week. They look great and they’re happy. They’re happy be­cause they feel good about them­selves.”

Body-weight train­ing doesn’t in­volve any ma­chines, which makes it con­ve­nient for peo­ple who like to travel. It in­volves us­ing a per­son’s own body weight as a re­sis­tance­train­ing tool, whether that’s through pushups, squats, planks, lunges, or other ex­er­cises.

Func­tional train­ing can help im­prove bal­ance, co­or­di­na­tion, and en­durance through strength train­ing. A squat, for ex­am­ple, is a func­tional ex­er­cise be­cause it also helps im­prove an older per­son’s mus­cles for tasks like pick­ing things up off the floor. This “train­ing for life” can also make it eas­ier for a per­son to grab a suit­case from an over­head com­part­ment or haul boxes into their home.

“There are dif­fer­ent move­ments,” Zalko said. “You can write them down, and when you travel, you can do them on your own.”

In a 2014 study pub­lished in the In­ter­na­tional Jour­nal of Well­be­ing, Con­cor­dia Univer­sity re­searchers re­ported that peo­ple over the age of 50 were usu­ally more mo­ti­vated to ex­er­cise as a means of re­duc­ing stress and be­com­ing toned and fit. Hav­ing fun, meet­ing friends, and en­hanc­ing men­tal tough­ness ranked far lower for them than for younger age groups.

The re­searchers noted, how­ever, that “mo­ti­va­tion mat­ters in re­gard to liv­ing a mean­ing­ful life.” And they ques­tioned what it will take to in­crease older peo­ple’s pas­sion for ex­er­cise rather than sim­ply work­ing out on ma­chines in a mech­a­nis­tic way.

Zalko is well aware that ex­er­cise needs to be fun for peo­ple to re­tain their de­sire to re­main healthy. That’s why he pays close at­ten­tion to as­sign­ing the right per­sonal trainer to in­di­vid­ual mem­bers, de­pend­ing on their ob­jec­tives, and en­cour­ag­ing baby boomers to join fit­ness groups at his gym.

“This is my mis­sion in life,” he said. “I don’t do it for the money. I’m here be­cause I like to see peo­ple chang­ing their life­style. I like to see them happy.”

PISCES

Fe­bru­ary 18–March 20

The stars keep your in­stincts, im­pulses, and creativity go­ing strong. The next cou­ple of days can be shap­ing in some long-term, mo­men­tous way. The first of three hookups this year, Jupiter/nep­tune moves you/ moves it to a whole new level. Feel tested, feel blessed, or both; you are at the start of so much more to come.

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