Seniors find strength at Define Fitness

Since it opened a year and a half ago, Define Fitness in Johnson Lane has seen a steady increase in its customer base.

"Things are going well," said owner, 36-year-old Nate Hughes. "We have seen constant growth. The majority of our customers live in and around the Johnson Lane area, but we are also getting customers as far away as the Ranchos."

One selling point is Jill Fujii's new senior fitness program.

"We should keep our seniors moving," said the 42-year-old personal trainer. "People have this idea that you grow old and just sit in a rocking chair covered in a shawl, but you really have the ability to alter your body. You have more control over it than you think."

After becoming a personal trainer four years ago, Fujii decided to specialize in senior fitness, training with the Internal Sports Science Association. She now offers one-hour classes three times a week designed specifically for seniors.

"I focus on strength and flexibility mostly in class and then help my customers set up cardiovascular training outside of class," Fujii said.

Fujii said she focuses on altering certain bio-markers that are critical to seniors, including muscle mass, body fat percentage, cholesterol, blood pressure and bone density, among others.

The hour-long sessions involve strength building on more than a dozen machines and extensive stretching exercises.

"Nutrition is also very important," Fujii said. "Everybody gets a food log and records how many calories, fat, protein and carbohydrates they are consuming. Often just writing it down can be a huge revelation of how much fat you are actually eating."

Fujii keeps her class sizes small, with a maximum of six people. She said Define Fitness as a whole offers a very personal atmosphere.

"I enjoy what I do. I love it, it's my passion and it's more than just a job," Fujii said. "I really feel like working here is fulfilling my need to help other people and make a difference. Working with seniors is about improving their quality of life."

Sixty-eight-year-old Marlene Koehler is proof that Fujii's philosophy works.

"I can calf raise 210 pounds and leg press 180 pounds," Koehler said. "People can get there, but it takes time. When you're older, it takes a little more time."

Koehler said working out with a professional trainer forces seniors to make a commitment. She said it's the best way to prevent arthritis and release internal stress.

"When people get older, they give up," she said, "but they should never give up."

Fujii helped 64-year-old Dan Smudski stretch his quad muscles before a set of leg extensions.

"Everyone thinks you can do this stuff at home, but with somebody there beside you, you can't cheat like you could if you were by yourself," said Smudski.

A retired chief weapons controller for the U.S. Air Force, Smudski said after a certain age simple tasks became painful.

"Bending down to pick something off the lower shelf at Wal-Mart became a problem," he said. "Coming here is worth the investment. I do stretches here I wouldn't do at home, and they keep me limber."

Define Fitness is located at 2528 Business Parkway Suite A and is open 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Call 267-0483 for more information.

Fujii's senior fitness classes start 8 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Space is limited. Cost is $99 a month with a three-month commitment. Fujii offers a free physical evaluation and goal assessment. Call (775) 901-2007 for more information.


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