I am spectacularly out of shape.
Ever since I decided to work from my apartment, almost three years ago, I’ve become a slave to the computer and sometimes don’t get outside until I walk the dog, around 6:30 PM.
I know I’ve got to do exercises to keep my bones, muscles and heart strong, and eat foods that provide the proper protein, vitamins and minerals, but the treadmill bores me to tears and it’s not always easy for me to get the proper nutrition during a busy day. I started to get the nutrition part under control when I heard about Ensure’s new line of Active High Protein nutrition shakes that can provide the right balance of nutrients and protein, and with great flavor. Ensure,has been addressing adult nutrition needs for over four decades, so I trust it.
But the exercise—that’s a different story. If my life was in jeopardy, I couldn’t jog my way to safety. I haven’t consistently done any exercises for my muscles and bones since I stopped yoga four years ago.
Woe is me, I thought. I’m going to wind up a shuffling old lady if I don’t get off my duff and do something.
Then an email popped up that got my attention, from Vann Duke, a trainer in L.A., who calls his business Second Half Fitness & Wellness because his clients are 50+. He wanted to advertise on FabOverFifty. Hmmm, I said to myself, as I sent back a reply: “Lets talk.” Talk we did, on Skype, and I immediately liked Vann’s style, philosophy and approach. “A woman [or man, of course] over 50 needs to embrace the idea that she has a whole second life to live,” he told me. “Look at your body, look at your lifestyle, and figure out what’s important to you, now, to operate in your life. What physical capabilities do you need to get to where you want to go?”
I liked Vann’s emphasis on “what’s important to me” and told him that “I don’t want to be stopped by things I have to do to live. I don’t want to be afraid to stand on a ladder and change a light bulb in the ceiling. I want to do the things I’ve always done in my life. I want to maintain a high level of physical independence. I’m not interested in showing off my muscles to anyone, but I don’t want to be nervous about falling in the street or walking flights of steps to take the subway.”
“Yes, that will go before the mental, especially if you don’t do something to maintain it,” Vann stressed.
Vann trains over Skype and customizes a program for each client after assessing her strength, balance, flexibility and cardio capabilities. “I want to learn how aware you are of your body and of your movements,” he explained.
I made a proposal to him: “You train me and I’ll promote you to my FOFriends!” (The biggest downside, I thought, would be that I wouldn’t especially enjoy his sessions; I’d write a blog introducing him, but not giving my opinion, and that would be that.) Vann agreed and suggested we do three, hour-long sessions a week, for four weeks.
Following the first two sessions, when Vann had me do a variety of exercises—from squats to modified push ups and standing on one leg—he emailed me a detailed, but easy-to-understand Assessment Report. The report included his observations about my upper body, lower body and core strength, as well as my balance, and how he intended to stabilize my body around my spine, and correct muscle imbalances and compensations. In English, he intended to teach me exercises to increase flexibility in tight (overactive muscles) and resistance exercises to build strength in weak (underactive) muscles.
Today, I had my fifth session, and I’m hooked.
So far, I’m working with a stability ball; 5-, 8- and 10-pound dumbbells, and a 6-pound medicine ball, all of which I bought to set up my home gym. I also wear a heart rate monitor so Vann can observe the intensity of my exercise and gauge how my heart is responding during the workout. “Personal trainers look for various psychological cues as to the well-being of their clients during a workout,” Vann explained. The heart rate monitor is necessary because not all of the cues will translate over the internet.
Vann takes me through an “interactive, results-driven workout,” just as his welcome letter stated. He demonstrates exercises and instructs me on “execution, proper form, breathing and intensity.” Although he’s not actually in the room with me, the Skype setup works beautifully, and I feel as if he is. (BTW, for any of you Grey’s Anatomy fans, 46-year-old Vann looks just like Jackson Avery. That cute!)
I perspire. I breathe hard. My heart races. My muscles burn. I can barely march, while raising each knee to my chest, when the hour is almost over.
But what exercise junkies say is true: It’s a good exhaustion and I feel happy that I’m doing something good for my body. Really, really good. And really, really essential. Vann believes in “vigorous” workouts. “I’m not one who thinks older adults should be sitting on chairs and exercising. But I’m not going to ask you to do anything that I know you can’t do. It’s important that you feel confident about the work you’re doing,” he explains.
It’s unlikely I’ll become obsessed with exercise at this point in my life, but I also am exercising—for about 30 to 40 minutes—on each of the four days when Vann isn’t training me. “Having a healthy lifestyle is a full-time job. You need to follow the program outside of what you do with me,” he stresses.
“A great workout challenges you mentally. It’s progressive, taking you from lower to higher weights, for example, and incrementally challenging you to change. You’ll know when it’s time to take the next step up, based on how much command you have while you’re doing each exercise. What’s important is how you’re going to progress. You don’t want to be dragging after a workout.
“You’ll know when you’re there. You’ll feel better. You’ll look in the mirror and see how your body has changed. You’ll move like you did in your 30s,” Vann adds.
“By committing to daily exercise, you are making
the single greatest investment in your ability to live an active, high quality of life for many years to come.”
We’re going to discuss diet during the next session, he told me. “As you create a more active lifestyle, you need to change how you’re eating and be more mindful of how different foods affect you.” I am looking forward to our discussion.
If you want to get a jumpstart on focusing on diet and nutrition before my next post, take some time to learn more about Ensure. One of its new nutrition shakes, Ensure Active High Protein, gives us 25 grams of protein per serving, which is equal to 50 percent of the DV (Daily Value) to help us stay active and strong. It also has 24 essential vitamins and minerals, including Vitamins C, E and Selenium to support our immune systems.
One of its new nutrition shakes, Ensure Active High Protein, gives us 25 grams of protein per serving, which is 50 percent of the DV (Daily Value) to help us stay active and strong. It also has 24 essential vitamins and minerals, including Vitamins C, E and Selenium to support our immune systems. Besides including the right balance of nutrients and protein, the shake is milk chocolate flavors.
Provided we’re exercising and eating properly, it looks like Ensure Active High Protein would be just what the company claims: “An excellent choice for an occasional breakfast, lunch or as a between-meal snack.”
Ensure partnered with bloggers such as me for its Ensure Active blogger program.
As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. Ensure believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Ensure’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines and
social media engagement recommendations.
Meet Vann Duke, Master
Born and raised in L.A., Vann Duke is leading the charge to transform the concept of aging and empower adults 50+ to become masters of their fitness and health, with his Second Half Fitness & Wellness program. “The process of aging is very real and should be honored. Yet, I’m convinced that we possess a great amount of power in HOW we age,” says the 46-year old Master Fitness Trainer. “It’s been proven that maintaining a physically active lifestyle is the key to pain reduction, increased energy, staving off and preventing chronic illness and increased brain power.”
Vann’s “dynamic, purposeful and comprehensive approach” is designed to help FabOverFifty adults “to maintain a high level of youthfulness, independence, physical activity and ensure longevity.” His scientific-based training is supported by the National Academy of Sports Medicine’s (NASM) Optimum Performance Training model.
Vann has 20 years of experience and holds a Master of Science is Exercise Science and Health Promotion. He is a Certified Personal Trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine and a Certified Speed Specialist. Named the Bay Areaʼs “Top Fitness Trainer” by the San Francisco Chronicle. Vann currently trains Jay McGraw, producer of The Doctors, and works with the Dr. Phil show.
Vann’s fees range from $55 to $75 per hour, depending on the number of sessions you’re taking. A package of 12 sessions, for example, would be $720. Vann provides detailed follow-up sheets after each one that explain exactly how to do each exercise you’ve learned (with a photo, too). The sheets are invaluable when you are working out solo.