Fitness Success Stories
Lake Front Training Spurs Gains
My name is Marjorie Pendell and I am 62 years old. I played a lot of tournament racquetball in my 40’s, but was never a fan of the gym atmosphere. I had a couple of personal trainers in the gym, but it seems that the goal was to just wear me out however they could. Then I met Richard Stent a few years ago and he quickly became my personal trainer. He felt the same way about the gym and we jumped around to different gyms, but were never satisfied with the results.
In April of this year (2017) Richard had an idea about training outdoors. So with a park location on Lake Lanier, and armed with gymnastic rings, an 0lympic bar, plates and dumbbells, I committed to it! Some intense heat in the summer and so far 19 degrees this winter with snow, we truly have trained in all weather conditions. Since we’ve been training outdoors, my strength has increased, my energy level is through the roof and I’ve lost inches and weight! We train two to three times a week at 6 a.m. and I feel stronger than I have ever felt & I stay energized all day. I will continue this regimen for the rest of my life!
[Training outdoors provided some unique challenges. Richard Stent provided details on Marjorie's training on the lake front.]
are some of her outdoor exercises, with poundages. All movements are done around
She does flutter / straight legs kicks, for abs, every day. Around 4 to 5 sets of varying quantity but never to failure.
will never train to failure on weights, normally. And with bodyweight exercises,
she may only try failure on the final set of an exercise. Thus she recuperates
quickly for her daily office job, and for the following day's training.
suffers from zero joint or muscle pain, and supplements weights with hard
walking throughout the year.
I keep telling her that women are tougher than men, as I could never persuade a guy to do what she is doing!
She is a great inspiration.
And I have a second lady in her early 40's, as well as my wife, who train outside with us once a week, through the year.
Lake front training may be only for the hearty few,
Marjorie Pendell and Richard Stent, Lake Lanier, Georgia
February 1, 2018
Hip Replacement in Canada--Germany for Anterior Approach
The hip injury: My hip was injured in March of 2015. I can remember the moment it became a significant injury. On March 15, 2015, I played squash for the last time with my squash team in Edmonton, Alberta. On that date I was 69 years young and had played squash since 1973 – which sums to about 42 years.
Efforts at recovery: So, there I was, 69, with no pain the night of my last squash victory but the next morning I struggled with walking normally. I tried various remedies over the next two years including physiotherapy, acupuncture and stem cell injections and found that the flexibility of the hip could be improved temporarily for a day or week with these interventions, but then the limping, stiffness and pain would return.
Ballroom Dancing with a hip injury: One blessing amongst the misery of it all was ball room dancing. I learned that, even if I would be limping to the dance floor with pain in the right hip; when the music began and the joy of the dance took hold, the pain would disappear. There was some pain after dancing but, nothing intolerable. If that was the deal, I was signed up for the life time contract!
Then, over time, the dancing became more difficult. Eventually the evening arrived, September 30, 2017, when I could not dance. The pain was too much and, when I did try dancing, walking afterwards became very painful as well. What next?
As you will
see, George embarked on a long and winding journey back to the dance floor.
Possible hip replacement in Alberta: As all of this was going on, I had been advised by my physician, that my hip x-rays showed osteoarthritis that suggested that I should be on the list for a hip replacement. I was reluctant to consider this option when I was still dancing. I attended the hip and bone clinic at this time and, when I explained the symptoms and mentioned my level of dancing, I was told my hip was not deteriorated enough to place me on the list for the hip replacement.
When the time came when I could no longer dance, and the pain when trying to sleep had increased I attended for a second time to the hip and bone clinic. The “screener” (a doctor who assessed the hip problem) told me that yes, I would be eligible for the hip replacement but, as my symptoms were relatively mild, I would be placed on the lowest level of need for the operation, level 3 on the three-tiered system. I would be on a wait list, possibly for two years, possibly longer. I considered a third visit to the screener, with an effort at a clearer explanation of my symptoms. Possibly with this approach, I could move up one or even two levels. But I set those thoughts of another assessment aside. There were other avenues to consider, where a significant monetary investment would be needed to find healing.
Treatment outside of Alberta: I mentioned to my doctor that I was considering surgery in other countries and she suggested that I phone a clinic in Calgary, Alberta, who were offering the surgery. I found the clinic and made the call. Yes, they would do the surgery, possibly within three weeks. You would first attend the Calgary clinic for a $750 dollar assessment and then, if the assessment results confirmed the need for hip replacement, you would be sent to a clinic in Montana and for $25,000 American dollars ($32,000 Canadian) the surgery would be completed and you would then be returned to Calgary for follow-up.
I did some more research and found that a clinic in Vancouver offered a similar deal, with the treatment in Phoenix for $23,000 American. When I asked what type of approach they used, “posterior” or “anterior”, they said either, but the recommendation for the “posterior” approach was obviously their first choice and, I suspected, that their referral mechanisms were historically oriented in that direction.
The two approaches to hip replacement, anterior and posterior: I should point out at this juncture that, one of my internet heroes is Clarence Bass, a well-known fitness expert and nutrition/diet specialist. I had read two of his books and admired his approach to fitness and health in general. He is now 80 years old. Clarence had a hip replacement done in 2006 and a second one in 2017. He spoke very highly of the “anterior” approach. I learned from research that, for the anterior approach, the surgeon gains entry to the hip joint by an incision at the upper front of the leg, fairly close to the actual hip joint. After cutting through the skin, the muscles at this site are separated (with retractors) and the old hip joint is removed and replaced through this opening without cutting any muscles or nerves. With the older approach, the entry is “posterior” and occurs on the side of the leg. Muscles are cut to gain entry and thus healing is longer. As well, there is information to suggest that the hip is “less stable” when the posterior approach is used and, as well, there is greater risk for infection, dislocation and numbness.
The final solution: Then, the sun shone through the clouds of confusion. At the last dance, the dance where the pain became unbearable, others noticed that I was struggling. I shared my thoughts that a hip replacement was inevitable, but the wait in Alberta, possibly interminable. I learned from my dance friends that a local Edmonton ballroom dancer had a hip replacement and had amazed every one in the dance community with the speed of her recovery. I contacted her and learned that she had very successful hip replacement surgery in November 2016, with surgeon, Dr. Konermann, from the St. Franziskus-Hospital in Winterberg, Germany. She also related that one of her good friends had also successful hip replacement surgery with the same doctor.
I contacted Dr. Konermann directly by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and he replied by email within an hour. He wrote that he used the anterior approach for his surgery, had completed over 400 hip replacements with this approach and yes, he would book me an assessment appointment.
My wife Chris, and I, flew out of Edmonton Alberta on Friday October 13, 2017, and on Monday October 16 we met Dr. Konermann. He had already reviewed my x rays. (I had given my Alberta x-ray CD to the hospital clerk when checking in) and had one taken in the Winterberg hospital before I met with him.)
On Tuesday October 17, 2017, at 11:00 a.m. I was rolled into the operating room. After a brief chat with the anestheologist, I had the epidural (in the lower spine) and could feel my feet and legs warming and then, with a little gas through the mask on my face, I was gone, totally gone. I woke two to three hours later in the recovery room with the most pleasant feeling, like being in heaven. My body felt terrific. The right leg felt relaxed and loose. I realized that it had been taut and tense for two plus years. I laid there in mild bliss and, after two hours there, was rolled back to my room and to my wife Chris.
Mild pain began to emerge as the medications lost their impact, but not pain that I could not manage. The next morning (Wednesday October 18, 2017, day 1 after surgery), after a small breakfast, Dr. Konermann arrived with a contingent of interns. He related that the surgery had been completed in 42 minutes. It had gone very well and there were no concerns. He removed the bandage on my hip and observed the four-inch cut. He explained that he did not use a suture but glue to close the opening. He related that another x-ray was planned for that morning to see how the replaced hip aligned with the surrounding anatomy. That same day I met with two Occupational Therapists who directed my in-hospital walking therapy. My recovery was speedy. In two days I walked, with the aid of crutches, the hallways of the hospital and then the stairs. On the third day after surgery, October 20, 2017, after more in-hospital walking, I was released from the hospital.
On the way out of the hospital, around 2:00 p.m. on Friday, we stopped and paid the bill, 7939.36 Eu ($11,854.79 Canadian) with my credit card. We walked back to the hotel with the crutches. That was the last time I used them. The remaining days in Winterberg were filled with walking (sans crutches), about an hour per day, half an hour each, for morning and afternoon. There was minor pain when moving from a sitting position to walking, but very little pain when walking. I was actually walking better than before the surgery where, a walk of 50 feet, would lead to pain and significant limping. I checked in with Dr. Konermann twice during the following week for a review of my progress. There were no concerns. We flew home from Germany October 27, 2017.
Conclusions: I believe all signs are pointing to the conclusion that the hip surgery was a success. I will not give a final appraisal until 6 months have passed but today, January 1, 2018 (two and a half months after surgery), all signs are positive. Even the problem of rising from sitting to walking has resolved. I have been using the elliptical, treadmill (for walking) and lifting weights (including squats with 20 pound dumbbells).
The cost was worth it. In Alberta, it is unfortunate that the hip replacement is not available within the free health care plan for those who need the surgery, only available to those who have deteriorated to an extreme level of need. Nevertheless, that appears to be the nature of health care in Alberta. A certain level of dysfunction and pain are required and I had not reached that level.
I am glad I ventured out to Germany to meet with an excellent surgeon, Dr. Konermann, and to have my hip replaced and my life style changed. I send my heart felt appreciation to Dr. Konermann and the superb staff at the St. Franziskus-Hospital in Germany. My memories of my time there will remain with me forever.
George Pugh, Alberta, Canada
February 1, 2018
The "Real" Biggest Loser Winner
Terry Todd the day after he won the first official Senior National Power Lifting Championship in 1965--at or near his highest bodyweight of 335.
courtesy of Dr. Todd
As for your “Biggest Loser”
piece, I read it the morning it appeared and found it to be the most
thorough—yet easy to understand—explanation that our evolutionary capacity to
avoid starvation is even more rigorous, long-lasting, and unyielding than I’d
realized. In my own case, one thing I do find occasionally difficult these days
is to eat less than I’d like to eat and—throughout my life—have eaten. I
understand it, of course, but I don’t particularly care for it.
Todd, PhD, co-director of the Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports
(Editor: This is a follow up on "Renewed Passion" in Success Stories 14.)
High Effort, Under-Distance Pays Off
Greg nearing the finish line at the Eastern Ohio Time Trial, May 2015
The passion continues.
Last year I entered 19 races—16 time trials and three road races. I grabbed three second place finishes and got my first of three wins, all in time trials.
I set a personal best in a 5K time trial of 8:59, which is an average speed of 20.8 mph. Only a couple years ago I raced this same distance at 10:33. For the approximately 20K time trials I got my average speeds up to around 20.4 mph. The elite riders are faster than this, but in a couple of years I’ve progressed from an average speed of over 17 mph. So I’m getting faster and I’m still having fun. Or having more fun.
I train more intensely and less than most other cyclists. In the off season I’m on the indoor turbo trainer seldom more than an hour and often only twenty or thirty minutes, and not every day. I blast away with sprints, intervals or practice time trials then usually follow that with a short, easy recovery ride or rest the next day. Two days a week I lift weights. In season, I seldom ride more than 80 or 90 minutes outside, even if I have a 40K road race. I emphasize speed and power work. Maybe I’ll do a two-hour long ride once every couple of weeks or so. Maybe.
This all flies in the face of cycling’s still prevalent training gospel, which says to train as much as you can as long as you can. Decades ago, the pro riders in Europe would sometimes train 8 hours a day 6 days a week at 15 mph. That legacy has been handed down.
Pro riders train 30 to 40 hours a week, while many amateurs—even if their longest race might be an hour or two (or less) train 4 to 6 hours a day. It’s a sport that greatly resists change, similar to running.
Contrast this long training with the example of Roger Bannister, about whom Clarence has written. When Bannister trained to break the 4-minute mile barrier in the 1950s he trained on his lunch hour for 30 to 45 minutes, with hard intervals instead of long steady/slow distance the backbone of his program.
Old ways die hard, as many runners and cyclists still swear by the massive over-distance methods, even if they are middle-distance runners or, surprisingly, even some track racers in cycling. Many cyclists tell me I’m training wrong, yet they also want to know how I keep getting faster at age 63.
The point of cycling or any fitness activity is to find something that suits you and do it in a way that makes you happy. You can train hard in cycling and still have time for a life. For fitness, you certainly don’t have to compete. You can do other activities than cycling or lifting—whatever interests you. There’s no need to punish yourself with boot camps or masochistic workouts; gradually work up to harder things. Begin at whatever level you find yourself; don’t be intimidated. Do it for yourself.
Follow many of Clarence’s excellent tips: work hard, challenge yourself, but at your own pace. Don’t diet either, instead develop a healthy eating plan that, as Clarence rightly points out, is sustainable. For you. (I don’t eat like other cyclists either.)
Each individual should follow their own path to a healthy lifestyle, because life is truly a glorious journey. Make the exercise and fitness adventure an enjoyable part of that journey.
And utilize Clarence and his unparalleled website for inspiration, motivation and information.
Greg Sushinsky, Ohio
A Professional Man’s Life of Fitness
I was humbled when Clarence invited me to write a short account of my history as a fitness buff.
I started working out in 1960 during the summer before my sophomore year of high school. Along with three of my buddies, we lifted weights in an unheated garage in my neighborhood in Baden, PA. I can tell you that the workouts were pretty brisk in January! After about one year, two of my friends developed other interests, so my best friend Pete and I moved our Joe Weider barbell set into my parents' basement. We did squats, bench presses, rows, chins, presses, curls, and sit-ups. Here is a picture of myself after about one year of training.
I lifted weights all through high school. Back then, President Kennedy was stressing physical fitness, and the physical education teachers at Ambridge High School started testing us on how well we performed on a number of events (40 yard dash, standing long jump, pull-ups, sit-ups in 60 seconds, and the 1/2 mile run). They had a formula for assigning points for each event, and I ended up winning the high school competition in 1963.
When I went to college, I took my weights with me and stored them under my bed in the dormitory, working out 2-3 times a week. After graduation in 1967, I started teaching kids with physical disabilities in Pittsburgh. I took my weights to my apartment and used them as often as I could. As I was working on my Master's Degree at the University of Pittsburgh, my workout frequency dropped off somewhat, but I kept in shape. As I recall, I bench pressed 285 pounds at that time.
In 1970, I was hired as a professor at my alma mater, Slippery Rock University. My Joe Weider weights went with me. I taught during the day, and commuted to Pitt, working on my Ph.D. at night and during the summers. My frequency of training dropped off, but I never quit.
After finishing my degree, my wife left me, and I became very depressed as we went through a divorce. But I soon started lifting weights again--and almost instantly felt better. After a couple of months I regained my muscle mass, but more importantly, I started feeling good about myself again. My depression disappeared completely.
I really believe exercise is a wonderful medicine. I think it can do wonders for treating and preventing a host of mental and physical ailments.
Over the years, I got caught up with Dr. Kenneth Cooper's aerobics, and was running about 1500 miles a year. My joints really took a pounding, and I tried Dr. Leonard Schwartz's Heavyhands. Eventually, I started using Nautilus equipment at the Butler YMCA alternating aerobics with the Nordic Track and the Schwinn Airdyne. With my work as a professor, and consulting work as an administrative law judge, I wanted to find a system that I could do in my home. I eventually settled on Bowflex. I have used my Bowflex Ultimate for 15 years, interspersing it with my Dragon Door kettlebells and my Range of Motion machine.
Over the years, I have had arthroscopic surgery on both knees, rotator cuff surgery on both shoulders, and cataract procedures in both eyes. I also have two torn biceps, which I haven't had repaired. I kept working out through all of these events. It helped keep me in the game, so to speak. It was the right thing to do, physically and mentally.
I don't know if Clarence will approve of my diet, but I usually eat a hard-boiled egg, a handful of blueberries, a handful of blackberries, a handful of raspberries, a big glass of kefir with hemp, chia, flax seeds, a pinch of cinnamon, and a teaspoon of tart cherry juice for breakfast. My typical lunch is a peanut butter sandwich and an apple. Around 3:00 each day, I'll have yogurt with seeds and nuts as a snack. My wife and I usually have grilled fish and several vegetables for dinner. I typically don't eat anything after dinner, but do have a small Scotch and water or a glass of red wine at night. I'm 5 feet 8 inches tall, and weigh 144 pounds.
Since retiring from Slippery Rock University in 2011, I do a Bowflex workout about twice a week. I alternate the ROM machine with my Concept 2 Rower, doing four-minute high intensity, Tabata-like workouts with each. Additionally, my wife and I have Fitbits, and we walk about 10,000 steps a day.
I have followed Clarence Bass ever since he came out with Ripped. He has been an inspiration to me for many years. At 70 1/2 years old, I look up to him as a wonderful model.
Here are some images from my last workout a few days ago.
(Editor’s comment: Dr. Fair is a wonderful balance of fitness and productivity. He shows that you don’t have to be a Gym Rat to stay fit. Fitness training has been a stabilizing and contributing factor throughout his full and successful life. Fitness and productivity go hand in hand, with each contributing to the other. Well done, Dennis. Thank you for sharing your story with our visitors.)
Dennis T. Fair, Ph.D.
Victory at 60
Stepping out of the Gym Brings Unexpected Accolades
I competed in my first bodybuilding contest—at 60—and won in more ways than one. The contest was the 2015 Natural Badger Classic
I won the Over-60 category, took second in the Mr. Wisconsin Division, second in Novice, and placed fifth in the overall contest.
The comments from the other competitors, judges, and the audience between the pre-judging and final show were overwhelming. One of the judges made a point to find me to say, “You are what bodybuilding is all about.” I was approached by two contest promoters who asked me to enter their contests. My only objective in entering was to have the experience of being in a contest and to show that a person over 60 could train for and be competitive in bodybuilding. I never imagined the experience would have gone the way it did. It seems like a dream. But the trophies in my home gym prove that it did in fact happen.
I have been active in bodybuilding and fitness since age 13, training alone in my home gym. I keep a journal of my workouts and at the time of the contest I had logged 5,336 workouts. I had always worked toward entering a contest but my lack of confidence kept me from trying it. I never thought I was big enough or lean enough to be competitive. But after turning 60 and watching the 2014 Natural Badger Classic I decided I’d give the 2015 show a try. I started training in earnest the day after the 2014 event.
I made many mistakes along the way. I seriously over trained. The thought of being on stage for the first time drove me to weight train for 2 hours and 30 minutes with another 40 minutes of cardio training 5 days a week. I got completely lost with my diet and cut back to 800 calories a day. After 4 months of this routine I was no bigger and no leaner. I was frustrated and lost. So I found a trainer, Dawn Goettl, to help me with posing and final contest preparation. I also listened to a friend, Jack Mazzenga, and remembered what Clarence Bass said about rest between workouts, counting calories, keeping meals consistent, and eating foods as close to their natural state as possible.
I completely overhauled my training approach and finally started to see progress. Still, I never felt as though I was lean enough, which why I was so overwhelmed by the results.
Bodybuilding and fitness training have been a core part of my entire life. I told family and friends years ago that I would still be lifting weights when I was 60. It doesn’t seem like that much time could have passed, but here I am holding true to my commitment. The driving force that keeps me in this lifestyle is love of the challenge to be better every day, having the discipline to be prudent with diet and keep lean. It’s not always easy, but feeling and being fit is the ultimate reward for me—and it has no age limit.
[Editor’s comment: Congratulations, Dan! You have been competing with yourself all these years, and stepping on stage proved that you are a winner far beyond the environs of your home gym. With more rest between workouts, you have the capacity to add substantially more muscle. Take your time, train progressively, don’t over-train, and above all don't starve yourself. You must give your muscles time to recover and grow, and feed the growth. No matter what, remember that you are the only competitor that really counts. And you are a WINNER!]
Dan Schneider, Wisconsin
Pioneer Woman Bodybuilder Strives for Aesthetic Perfection
I'm an artist. Visual. Creative. And I love nature. That is who I've always been.
Studying the figure in art school and working as a life model for painters & sculptors, I saw the human body as nature's work of art to be translated by the artist with clay and paint. I was fascinated with the works of high renaissance art and worked for hours drawing the cast model sculptures of Michelangelo, arguably the greatest sculptor who ever lived.
As I stood day after day modeling in the studio, I would listen as the anatomy instructor would go over all the Latin names of the bones, the joints and the muscles on my body. I wanted to be one of those Michelangelo sculptures for the students who were sculpting my figure.
That was 1978, and working out for women was basically non-existent (Jane Fonda hadn't even made her exercise video yet). However, I was adventurous, athletic and active in cross country skiing, rock climbing, and caving.
In order to have the strength to excel in these activities it was suggested to me by a friend, Ed Pilsitz, that I lift weights. Ed's knowledge of weight training was derived from his discipline with the Martial Arts; he was endlessly gleaning information from all the strongman magazines. I remember him referring to Clarence Bass' book "Ripped," which came out about that time. Through Ed's guidance my love affair with free weights began in a small gym in the back of a rock climbing store in center city Philadelphia. In doing so, I became one of the first women to venture into this unexplored territory and crossed the threshold to a traditional male oriented world of "the weight room."
I learned that I could change my physique by lifting dumbbells and thereby discovered this medium to sculpt my body. Mr. Pilsitz was the force that taught me everything through five years of training, dieting and entering me into this exciting new world of bodybuilding competitions for women. I will always be grateful to Ed for recognizing my genetic potential.
Bodybuilding became a catalyst that allowed me to travel around the world meeting many people, doing seminars, guest appearances, and compete. I was proud to be a part of the first wave of competitive women to learn how weight training could transform a physique. However, I somehow maintained my personal artistic integrity about my body with all the outside pressures to take my physique where I didn't want it to go.
Deborah's physique is a pleasing blend of muscle and femininity.
Albeit I might not have captured the biggest titles of the day, I had stamina for the long term and my ability to learn was not fixed, that it can grow with effort. That was reward enough for me. I'm healthy and I still continue to lift today.
After retiring from competition in 1983, I married and had two children. After a divorce, I taught art, created art, and sold art in my own gallery. Three years ago I remarried and I'm still drawing the figure, birds, and butterflies. Fitness and art have been the two constants in my life.
She continues to pursue her art and sculpt her body.
Historically, there have always been different ideals of beauty and what we expect the bodies of men and women to look like. Time traditionally changes these ideals. The physiques in women's and men's competitions have changed drastically over the past 40 years and the endless debate continues over "what is aesthetic?" All this is compounded by the use of synthetic drugs, money, power, and prestige. But that's how things evolve to create change.
Ultimately it's one's own personal choice what "success" means to them. The secret is knowing what to choose and to have the stamina to stay with it.
"Grit" is the magic pill. Grit is the disposition to pursue very long term goals with passion and persistence.
My goals were always simple, my sociological prospective was a lifestyle that maintains good health by eating whole foods and dedication to strength and endurance. I was given this one body to take care of and I'm going to do everything in my power to do just that. Fitness is a marathon not a sprint...!
Deborah Diana, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania
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or street address: 528 Chama, N.E., Albuquerque, New Mexico 87108,
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