The Benefits of Strength Training


There is no denying the benefits of strength training at any age, particularly in older adults. Numerous studies abound confirming strength training not only has positive effects on a person’s metabolism andlean muscle mass, but also can help alleviate, or even reverse, debilitating health conditions such as depression, arthritis, osteoporosis, obesity and back pain.

According to Brian Housle, MS, MEd, an exercise physiologist at Duke Diet & Fitness Center, evenyour heart can reap the benefits of strength training, which results in leaner body composition, and ultimately reduces your risk of heart disease.

“If you don’t use it, you lose it!” said Dan FitzSimons, owner and trainer at bodyfitz. “Strength training is crucial for fighting frailty and disability, increasing strength and mobility, and staying active and self-sufficient. Losing muscle and gaining fat are not part of our natural aging process! In fact, many symptoms of old age are really just symptoms of inactivity.”

At bodyfitz, Dan and the trainers use strength training as a weapon against aging and frailty, which is often associated with health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and also can lead to falls, the number one cause of injury related deaths in people age 65 and older. According to researchers at Duke, by strength training just two to three times a week, a person can lower their risk of falls by 40 percent.

“Strength training is an effective way to increase muscle strength, shed unwanted inches and become more toned,” Dan noted. “Additionally, your tendons, ligaments and bones also will be strengthened. Stronger joints are more stable and less prone to injury.”

Dan tailors his clients’ strength training workouts to meet their individual needs. “We take each person as an individual, assess their strengths and weaknesses and identify their fitness goals. Each client is unique, no matter what their age.”

Although it is suggested that people strength train two times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes, he prefers that his clients workout for a minimum of three times a week to ensure that they see progress. And, he says that as people get stronger, they will need to add weight to their exercises to improve.

Specific exercises that Dan might include in an older client’s workout include step-ups, which incorporate the use of a box or platform at least seven inches high, and are a great way to work on balance and coordination.

“Working the leg muscles while performing an everyday movement and carrying weights will increase a person’s strength, balance and confidence,” Dan noted. “I also use exercises such as squats to a chairwhile holding objects, rotational movements with a medicine ball to increase core strength and body awareness, and tossing and catching a medicine ball to work on a client’s reaction time and hand/eye coordination. I like keeping my older adult clients on their feet, on unstable surfaces, and if they need to sit for an exercise, they will sit on a stability ball.”

Dan also uses dynamic exercises for natural body movement that allows muscles, ligaments and tendons to work through a full range of motion. “We like to use an exercise called ‘swivel hips,’ which is like walking on a tight rope but on the floor. I ask my clients to step across the midline to help their muscles remain flexible and agile. They also are working on transferring body weight without losing balance.”

Consistent strength training, Dan says, especially that which focuses on strength and conditioning drills, can not only help us extend our lives, but help make those extended years quality ones.

“Beginning at around age 40, we lose about a half a pound of muscle each year, and that muscle is often replaced with fat,” Dan said. “Strength training can counteract age-related muscle loss, help keep your weight down and make you feel and look years younger. It also can help reduce arthritis pain, especially in the knees and back.”

While anyone at any age can begin a strength training program, Dan emphasizes that it is important they take certain precautions. “Be smart, start out slow, and get a trainer! It is important to interview a few trainers and find one with strong credentials and education that will suit your personal needs.”

“Understanding the importance of starting out slow, using moderate weights for low repetitions and listening to your body is crucial in avoiding injuries and building muscles. When someone is just starting out, it is so important to know that you are ‘conditioning’ your body with each workout so that you can progress to heavier weights and more repetitions, as well as a better range of motion over time. Too much, too fast will result in an injury to your ligaments and/or tendons and sideline you for a while,causing much frustration!”

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Myofascial release on the IT Band (Iliotibial band)with the foam roller

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Adding Function to Fitness

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Functional Fitness for You!

What do Olympic athletes have in common with exercise beginners?  These two groups – as well as everyone in between – can reap the benefits from a type of exercise that will not only help them excel at their designated activities, but enable them to perform functions of daily living more easily and safely.

Whether you are a gym regular, a weekend warrior, or are completely new to exercise, functional fitness is for you.  At the most basic level, functional fitness can help someone more easily stand up from the couch.  At its most extreme, functional fitness can help Olympic athletes bring home the gold medal.

“For some, functional training may involve movements in strength that enhance a person’s ability to perform daily activities.  Or, it may be used to improve an athlete’s performance in their designated sport, or even to build a better relationship between the nervous system and the muscular system,” said Dan FitzSimons, owner and trainer of BodyFitz Personal Training.  “No matter how you define it, functional training is an important part of exercise and should be included into a person’s routine.”

According to Dan, functional fitness is not a new concept; neither are other types of training such as core training or interval training.

“BodyFitz has been incorporating these necessary exercise components into our clients’ workouts for years,” he said.  “We love all types of training, especially all of the reasons why a person should train.”

The newest component at BodyFitz that will help enhance a person’s functional training routine is the Purmotion Functional Training System (FTS), which enables Dan and his team of trainers to bring functional fitness to a whole new level. “The Purmotion FTS is a great addition to our arsenal of functional training weapons,” Dan explained.  “The accompanying fitness tools provide us with a huge array of exercises that have our clients performing compounded moves that will help them develop as an athlete, a homemaker, a weekend warrior, or simply just help them to move around more easily.”

Dan noted that the Purmotion FTS is the foundation and framing for enhancing the overall function and performance for ANYONE who uses it.

“BodyFitz trainers are extremely knowledgeable, motivated and enthusiastic about their jobs and our equipment.  Because of this extensive knowledge, we are able to train anyone who is interested in developing a healthier lifestyle,” Dan said.  “Our functional training tools have many applications in real life, like working with children to develop gross motor skills, to someone who wants to increase their core and overall strength, to elite athletes who want to achieve performance goals.  These tools also help individuals who simply just need help getting up and down stairs, in and out of the car or to simply live a better quality of life.”

Purmotion is a company that cares as much about individuals being able to achieve healthier lifestyles as BodyFitz, according to Dan.  “We have seen a real need for functional training in our lives and have gone above and beyond to fulfill that need with our clients.  Our ability to understand this philosophy, absorb the knowledge and develop the skills required to perform on this equipment will have a direct impact on our clients.

“Functional training has always been a big part of our foundation, but it just received a major makeover.  As one of our clients said, ‘People come here for all of the right reasons.’”

For more information about functional fitness or to schedule an appointment to see how a functional fitness program can work for you, call BodyFitz at (404) 255-4008 or visit


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How to Workout Inner Thigh

Prevent Knee Injury, Increase Athletic Performance and Stability with this workout for the Inner Thigh

Dan FitzSimons presents an exercise that will help Prevent Knee Injury, increase Athletic Performance, and Stability by targeting the muscles from the groin, down the thigh and across the knee joint.

Chris and I are going to demonstrate an exercise that is phenomenal for strengthening the knee and knee joint. We want to strengthen the inner thigh. Those are called adductors. They add to the midline. So, when you work on the inner thigh, there’s a lot of machines out there that you sit down in.

When you sit down in the machine, your knee is usually bent or straight, but the pressure’s here above the knee. So, we’re not strengthening the muscle across the joint. It’s very important that we train the muscles across the joint so that we can work on stability.

Demonstrate the problem with seated inner thigh machines

The difference between seated and standing abductor workouts

Now, we’re going to work on stability on both sides.

As Chris stands strong on this right leg, he’s going to work on the stability of that leg. As we hook up this cable attachment to his ankle, we’re going to work on the inner thigh strength across the knee and up into the groin. He’s going to pull this toe up to help protect the knee and keep this knee locked.

We’re going to bring this heel across in front of the other toe. Come out slow to where it’s comfortable so you feel the stretch, exhale, pull back across. Always up nice and tall. His chin is up. He’s working on his posture. There’s no way you can do this exercise without engaging your core. But again, both legs are working solidly because he has to have all the pressure on his right glut, hamstring and quad, stabilizing the ankle on the block and the reason why we are on this block is so that he doesn’t have to hike up his hip to drag his foot past the other foot, so now he can be in a more stable or neutral position with the hip as he pulls across.

So again, these muscles coming from the groin across the knee joint are going to get stronger, which is going to help you prevent injury, be more efficient as a runner, and perform better. Simple as that.

So, here we have Maria doing the same exercise, we just want to demonstrate with the male and female that we’re doing the same exercises.

Women are not going to get big and bulky by doing strength training workouts. Bulk comes from what? It comes from muscle covered by fat. Right. So, if we watch what we eat and we exercise properly, we get nice, defined muscles, nice toned muscles, and there’s no fat over them, so we don’t get bulky.

But as Maria runs 45 miles a week if she’s not strengthening the inner and outer thighs they will get worn out, they will get tired. She will suffer some form of knee injury, especially tendinitis or maybe IT band syndrome, but this strengthening of the inner thigh is going to allow her to perform and function at a much higher level.

Let’s get two more reps. nice and tall, again working the stabilization on the leg as she’s standing up.

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Myofascial release with foam roller on the gastrocnemius and soles(calf muscles)

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The Choice is Yours: Fitness Center or Fast Food Joint?

It is true that you cannot “out work a bad diet.”  You also cannot eat junk food today because you will work it off tomorrow at the gym. In fact, you are much more likely to achieve your goal of a flatter stomach by eating healthier than by doing any amount of crunches.

At bodyfitz, we strive to keep our clients in shape – not just through exercise, but by keeping them informed of the importance of eating well as a way of life, not just for the purpose of “going on a diet.”  If the majority of our decisions were based on how they would affect our health, we would live a higher quality of life for many years to come.  That is why, at our fitness center, we want to help more people make better decisions so that they can achieve a better quality of life well into their retirement years.

This also is why, at bodyfitz, we do not have a snack bar, a juice bar or a smoothie bar.  Tempting you with “crap” calories and artificial ingredients will result in defeating your hard work spent exercising.  You workout to feel better, to look better and to live a longer, healthier life; what you put in your mouth does matter greatly!


We at bodyfitz wish you the best and hope that you are making better choices in exercise and in food choices!


Try this recipe at home:

Breakfast Frittata

  • 1/2 diced red onion
  • big handful of shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 large organic red pepper (on the dirty dozen list)
  • 1 diced tomato
  • about 1/4 cup grated fresh parmesan
  • 6 whole eggs + 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil

Heat 1 – 2 tablespoons of olive oil in nonstick oven proof skillet. Add onion and red pepper and saute for a few minutes until onions and peppers begin to soften over medium heat. Turn oven to broil. Add mushrooms and saute for a few more minutes and then add tomatoes to heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Meanwhile, mix all eggs with grated parmesan and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over vegetables and cook 3 – 4 minutes until mixture begins to set. Sprinkle gruyere cheese on top and transfer to oven (middle shelf) until the cheese melts and top sets.  Enjoy with fruit, low-sugar cereal or oatmeal!


Just as important as the foods you eat on a daily basis are the foods you consume before and after your workouts.  To help you identify the foods that your body needs to get through a rigorous exercise routine, and then to help it recover, we have listed below some of the foods we choose.

It is important to note that the foods you eat before working out should give you energy to sustain the intensity and longevity of the workout.  Post-workout foods also are important, as your muscles will be hungry, and hopefully, after an intense strength training workout, followed by some cardio exercise, your glycogen stores are low.  A good post-workout meal – eaten within an hour of your workout – is essential for your body’s recovery and for preparing for the next workout.


Pre-workout meal ideas:

  • Plain Greek yogurt with berries and sprinkled with granola
  • Cottage cheese topped with grapes and some oatmeal
  • Eggs, high-fiber cereal topped with berries

Post-workout meal ideas:

  • Frittata with vegetables
  • Hard-boiled eggs, oatmeal or high-fiber cereal
  • Piece of salmon with dark leafy green salad

When you get your body into the habit of eating healthy, junk food becomes less and less appealing.  What’s more is that very rarely, if ever, do we ever feel good about ourselves for eating sweets.  After all, when is the last time you thanked yourself for eating that cookie?


A healthy relationship with food should be nonnegotiable!


(404) 255-4008 | 220 Sandy Springs Circle, Sandy Springs, GA 30328 | |

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An Overview of Knee Pain

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As we age, knee pain becomes a common complaint among many individuals. One of the most common causes of knee pain is chondromalacia patellae, a condition that causes the cartilage under the kneecap to soften, according to Jennifer Hootman, Ph.D, Centers for Disease Control. Symptoms of this common type of knee pain may improve or even disappear with eight to 10 weeks of strengthening exercises.

Though there are a number of preventative measures that can help alleviate the pain, perhaps themost effective way is simply to maintain a healthy weight. For every extra pound a person adds to their frame, they add an extra four pounds of pressure on their knees when they walk or take the stairs. When they shed that weight, their knee pain not only can improve, but may diminish altogether.

Bodyfitz trainer Heath Belue believes that people need to remain as active as possible, as increasing muscle strength can lead to decreasing knee pain. “Having aches is no excuse for being a couch potato. They will only get worse.”

According to Heath, there are several different factors that can contribute to knee pain. Age is one factor, and others include lifestyle, prior or current injury or genetics. Normally, people begin to feel joint pain when life starts to slow down with age or retirement. Around age 50 or 60 is a common time period when sedentary people begin to experience knee and joint pain. Arthritis also has a big impact around this time of life.

Heath believes that, without a doubt, exercise may help delay or even prevent some of the most common knee issues. “A lack of strength in the muscles surrounding the knee is one of the biggest problems that can result from a sedentary lifestyle. Strong leg muscles take pressure off of the knee joint and can help relieve or prevent knee pain.”

Although everyone’s knee problems are different, Heath begins working with his clients who suffer from knee pain with the standard evaluation that he has learned from first-hand experience while working with orthopedic physicians and physical therapists.

“This evaluation helps me to determine what a client can and cannot do when exercising,” Heath explained. “It basically is a checklist of questions that help me to know what is happening with the client’s knee. I also check my client’s physical appearance for swelling around the knee, and determine if they are overweight. I also check their knee and body alignment and assess their posture.”

Heath said that all of the client’s answers to his questions build upon each other and help him create an exercise program that will benefit them, though in some cases of extreme pain, he may refer them to a physician.

He also asks the client to perform a series of movements to determine how strong their knee is, or whether there is an issue with the ligament or hamstring to quadriceps strength ratio. Heath also checks knee balance and stability. From this evaluation, he designs a workout, pulling knowledge from his more than 17 years of experience as an exercise physiologist, athlete and personal trainer to develop a program that will help his clients strengthen their knees and entire body.

“Though there may be some limitations in place, people can have healthy knees through smart training,” Heath explained. “Through my education and training experience, I know that individuals can improve their quality of life through corrective exercises. Knowing the limitations and capabilities of my clients plays a major role in smarter training and prevention of knee pain.”

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70 is the New 50!

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Interval Training: The Workout that Works

Coach Dan FitzsimonsIf someone told you that you could speed up your calorie burn during and even after your workout, would you do it?  What if they also said you could rev up your fat burn and experience a decrease risk of injury, too?

You can…with interval training.

Interval training, or a workout that alternates between bursts of high-intensity moves and those requiring lower intensity, is highly recommended by bodyfitz trainers to clients who want to challenge themselves and keep their bodies guessing.

“Some people often make the mistake of performing long, slow cardiovascular exercise and do not concentrate on their form.  But longer duration and sloppy form can often result in injury,” said Dan FitzSimons, owner and trainer at bodyfitz.  “Interval training offers a decreased risk of injury because it is often performed at a higher intensity, for a shorter duration and with a better form.  The added bonus is that you will burn serious calories during the workout AND after because you will have increased your metabolic rate.”

Dan said that for purposes of changing your physique, slow and steady exercise will likely not help much.  “While the logic behind the thought that ‘the more miles I log, the more weight I will lose or the faster I will get’ may seem sound, there is a sneaky loophole to that reasoning that many do not consider.

“Your body is a master adapter!” Dan explained.  “When it gets used to a routine, it becomes more efficient, so it uses less energy, resulting in fewer calories burned.”

Workouts at bodyfitz are always changing, not just to keep clients interested and motivated, but to make them see results, to push themselves out of their comfort zone and to prevent their bodies from adapting to a routine and hitting a plateau.

“The bottom line is that interval training comes with a whole host of benefits that trainers at bodyfitz embrace,” Dan noted.  “This type of workout can help prevent plateaus, help your body more effectively use fuels, and bust boredom, boost confidence and increase mental toughness!”

For more information about interval training or to give it a try, call bodyfitz at (404) 255-4008

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Fall Prevention and Exercise for Older Adults

Fall Prevention

The Center for Disease Controls says that one in three adults age 65 and over fall each year, and that falls are a major health problem that can be prevented. Can exercise play a role in fall prevention, and if so, how?

Trainers at bodyfitz work with older clients to help them prevent falling by not only incorporating specific types of exercises during their training program, but also through education.

“Exercise will strengthen the legs and increase balance and coordination,” said bodyfitz trainer Chantrell Antoine. “In fact, not exercising is the number one cause for the occurrence of falls in older adults. A lack of exercise results in the loss of leg muscle strength, particularly in the quadriceps muscles located in the upper part of the leg, above the knee. A lack of exercise also may result in a decrease in balance and coordination.”

Chantrell also emphasizes balance with her clients through exercises that require this skill to be performed correctly. She said that these types of exercises are especially important in clients who may have suffered a decrease in balance as they aged.

“Good evidence of a challenging balance exercise is when the client is little ‘shaky” while doing the exercise. This means that both large and small muscle groups are being recruited by the brain to help the person stay balanced and upright. Practice makes perfect!” Chantrell stressed.

She designs programs for her clients that may include a wide range of exercises ideal for aiding in fall prevention. Chantrell likes to create an unstable environment by having the client walk across a series of Bosu balls to enhance balance, ankle stability and coordination. She also targets their major leg muscles with strength training exercises such as leg lifts, leg extensions, stationary, reverse, and lateral lunges, as well as deadlifts for the hamstrings and lower back.

“Each program is geared toward the individual ability of the client,” she explained. “I must consider all injuries – knees, hips, lower back, neck and shoulder health of the client when creating their program. For example, a client who is free from injuries should be able to do a compound exercise movement such as walking lunges with a front arm raise. On the other hand, a client with a knee and shoulder injury would have to do stationary wall squats for the legs while using resistance bands on a fixed object to do rows to strengthen the back. Increasing coordination reduces the overall fear of falling.”

Other fall prevention strategies include an annual review by a healthcare provider of all medications, annual vision examinations and, keeping homes safe by making sure that rugs have a non-slip liner under them, installing grab bars next to the toilet and in the tub or shower, and improving lighting in the house with nightlights. Also, footware such as flip-flops should be avoided.

But it is not just the fall that people need to worry about. It is what can happen to the body as a result of the fall.

“Many types of injuries can result from a fall, from hip fractures and head traumas to an early death,” Chantrell said.

Older adults who may be at risk of falling and who would like to begin exercising as a way to lower their risk should seek out a trainer like Chantrell, who specializes in working with aging adults. “I incorporate exercises in their program that will assist them with activities of daily living, such as bending over to put dishes in the dishwasher, bending and digging in the garden, carrying groceries, and transferring their body weight from a chair to a standing position.”

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Get to Know Fitz

At BodyFitz, Dan and his wife, Tracy, have created an airy, open, neighborhood facility offering a highly-qualified and friendly team of trainers and all the equipment and classes you’ll need to get in shape. The FitzSimons have built their business and their reputation over 14 years of providing a place and a program for the people of Sandy Springs and north Atlanta who want a serious workout in an atmosphere of serious fun!