In today’s busy world, life can easily get in the way of our own health and wellness. Years can go by when, suddenly, the aches and pains start to set in and we’re staring middle-age in the face. It’s time to do something, but what exactly?
As a personal trainer for nearly 30 years and a soon-to-be-50-year-old himself, personal trainer Kerry Lorick of Greate Bay Racquet and Fitness in Somers Point knows what it takes to get healthy in middle age. He has a wealth of knowledge from training with rehabilitation and medical professionals, and has helped countless clients get back in shape after years of inactivity. His best piece of advice for people in this demographic? “Make wellness your number one goal.”
“Many men don’t like to hear this because it doesn’t sound aggressive enough, but that’s a mistake. You’re more likely to fail if you jump back into the exercise routines that worked for you in your youth without addressing all facets of wellness, because that can lead to injury and set you back before you really even get started,” Lorick says.
We spoke with Lorick recently to find out his recommendations to help you go from sedentary to Superman.
- See a Doctor. Before you commit to getting back in shape, it’s important to have a full evaluation by your physician, including blood work. “Your doctor will help you set goals that make sense for you based on your blood work results, body type and medical history. You’ll have your baseline heart rate, cholesterol and glucose numbers and find out if you have any underlying conditions that could hinder your progress.”
- Focus on your Foundation. Lorick likens jumping into a workout too quickly to setting a brand new house on a crumbling foundation. “It won’t be long before that new home is also falling apart. The same thing applies to our bodies,” Lorick says. “When we lead a mostly sedentary lifestyle, our foundation weakens. Trying to build muscle on a weak foundation leads to injuries, like pulled groin muscles, back pain and torn rotator cuffs. Our body works as a unit, so we need to care for all of its systems to be successful. That means drinking enough water, getting enough rest, and improving flexibility and endurance, not just bulking up or losing weight.”
- Think Outside the Box. Cardio and weight machines are a fraction of what today’s gyms offer. “Classes like yoga, Pilates, spin and high intensity interval training are just as beneficial to men as they are to the women who tend to participate in them. At Greate Bay, we offer many different types of classes that can keep workouts fun while providing a wide range of benefits so you can build up your foundation,” Lorick says. “I’ve also noticed that people who have a life sport, like tennis, golf or surfing, are more likely to see the changes in their abilities. When you can see how your work in the gym impacts the activities you enjoy, it’s especially motivating.”
- See a Trainer. Most gyms offer a free session with a personal trainer as part of the membership package. Ideally you’d see your trainer once a week after that if you’re really looking to see results, but Lorick says if that’s not possible, you could still gain a lot from just a few sessions at the beginning, and then each time you’re ready to take it to the next level. “A trainer can help you get off on the right foot with a program that not only works, but keeps you excited about coming to the gym. With the right support, going to the gym will become an enjoyable experience for you.” “For a lot of men it’s difficult to put their fitness in the hands of someone else. The first thing I do with all of my clients is congratulate them for seeking a professional, and let them know I’m going to put my best effort forward to help them. I start sessions by assessing their fitness level, which is often an eye opener for them, but I immediately show them how we’re going to get them to where they want to be. I take my role seriously and put a lot of effort into continuing my education. I care for my clients, and they appreciate that.”
- Consult with a Dietitian. Another key to success is meeting with a registered dietitian to make sure your nutrition supports your wellness plan. “Getting fit is about more than just increasing activity and lessening calories. If you’re not fueling your body enough with the right foods or at the right times, you will hit a plateau. What you eat before and after your workout can completely change your results. It’s really a science,” Lorick says. “Our bodies are like a clear glass of water. One drop of coloring changes the entire glass. It’s the same thing with food, what you eat changes your body’s chemistry, your mood, your ability to think clearly, and all of that impacts your wellness.” Many insurance companies offer a number of nutrition counseling sessions with their plans, so check with yours to find out what’s available. Shore Medical Center’s Outpatient Nutrition Counseling Program is staffed by a registered dietitian who can help you develop and stick to a meal plan that works for you.
- Focus on the Feeling. Getting and staying fit doesn’t have to be a chore. When you make fitness a priority, it affects all aspects of your life – including your happiness. “Fitness is very much a mind/body connection. It can take you away from the stresses of life, and get you focusing solely on yourself – something a lot of us who work and raise a family don’t do enough of,” Lorick says. “You feeling great is the best motivation. It’s about more than just watching the numbers on the scale drop – it’s about minimizing stress, improving your sleep, lowering your risk for developing chronic diseases – the benefits are endless. Your family will appreciate it, too, and learn healthy habits from your example. It’s a win-win all around.”
Lorick says that making a commitment to your health and wellness now will not only impact your life in the short run, it will have a lasting impact well into old age. Even if you’ve had bad habits in the past, you can still make up that time and reverse some of the damage. It’s also important to remember that injuries can and will happen along the way – they’re a part of life. However, following these guidelines and relying on experts when you need them will help you make wise choices and manage setbacks successfully when they do happen.
If you would like to connect with Kerry Lorick or learn more about Greate Bay Racquet & Fitness, call (609) 926-9550 or visit www.greatebayracquetandfitness.com. To learn more about Shore Medical Center’s nutrition counseling program, visit www.shoremedicalcenter.org/nutrition-counseling.