Almanac

Community - March 26, 2014

Fitness classes for Baby Boomers

by Kate Daly

After working as a tax accountant for 25 years, a 61- year-old Portola Valley resident has reinvented herself as a group fitness instructor and personal trainer with a focus on perimenopausal, menopausal, and post-menopausal women. Her youngest client is 50, the oldest is 75.

"When you take the aging woman, we have a lot in common; we have a lot of issues with muscle loss and bone-density loss," she says.

When she retired from the business world, she says, "I felt I wanted to actively age and stay active," so she went back to school some five years ago and took courses at Foothill and Canada colleges and the American College of Sports Medicine to learn more about the process.

She earned several certificates and now, in addition to working with clients one-on-one as a personal trainer, she teaches multiple classes in Portola Valley and Palo Alto. The fee varies depending on the location.

At Portola Valley Town Center, she offers a weekly functional fitness class on Monday evenings that is filled with "a little bit of everything": pilates, yoga, zumba, stretching, balls, bands, and weights. The class size fluctuates, but usually amounts to six women (although men are not excluded).

When she designs her workouts, "it's about strength, longevity and endurance, releasing pressure on the joints, working them lightly in different directions, and not putting stress on them."

"I just keep people moving. ... I don't subscribe to the no pain, no gain philosophy," she says.

After a few classes, she notices her students improving their flexibility and posture, and making gains in building strength and endurance.

She teaches another class on Tuesday and Thursday mornings centered around using a stability exercise ball to strengthen the core and improve balance.

Alice Chiang of Portola Valley took Ms. Kalman's class over the summer and found the exercise balls particularly fun and different from the yoga she's used to doing on her own.

Joan Blackmon of Portola Valley has worked out with Ms. Kalman for eight years, and says at one point they both developed frozen shoulders. She says Ms. Kalman learned from that experience, and now "she is so aware of keeping the person injury-free; she has really been good at critiquing a person and making sure they do it correctly."

Ms. Blackmon likes to go to the local classes so she can work out among friends. Three of her neighbors attend on a regular basis and they enjoy the social aspect of getting together with a purpose.

Ms. Kalman recognizes the importance of the buddy system to encourage people to exercise. "The most difficult part is walking in the door," she says. "Maybe it feels like too much, or there is a fear of having not worked out. ... But it's about being with other women, and you can make it as intense as you want it to be and work out at your own level."

Ms. Blackmon describes Ms. Kalman as "very friendly and inclusive," but could easily use the words enthusiastic and energetic when talking about the compact grandmother of three.

Ms. Kalman plays Baby Boomer music in her classes "to ease into the mood and bring back memories," she explains, saying sometimes the routines go better with Motown, other times they call for the Eagles, Billy Joel or Credence.

"If you feel a pain, stop doing it. If you feel sore, that's OK. Just go as far as you are able," she tells her students, prompting them when to exhale and inhale, and make modifications if they are having trouble doing the moves.

For Ms. Kalman it's all about keeping moving. "The less independent you are the more dependent you will be as you age, and you will stop doing things for yourself," she says.

In keeping with her active lifestyle, she plans to add a blog to her website: Chezfit.com. After seeing her in action, this writer predicts she will be rocking on a stability ball with her blond ponytail bouncing up and down when she finally sits down to start her blog about fitness and nutrition.

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