Month: June 2019

Get to Know: Celia Shaughnessy, FAI’s Executive Assistant

Get to Know: Celia Shaughnessy, FAI’s Executive Assistant

Anyone who’s had contact with the Functional Aging Institute has probably come across executive assistant Celia Shaughnessy. At the recent Functional Aging Summit, she was a wonder of unflappable enthusiasm, professionalism and get-it-down awesomeness.

We thought it was time you get to know Celia, so here’s a look at the woman who does so much every day to help us all do what we do.

Born: June 14, 1990, Lansing, Illinois.

Education: Bachelor of Science – Health and Fitness, Purdue University, 2012

With FAI Since: 2015. Formerly a personal trainer.

Currently lives in: Lowell, Indiana

Family: I met my hubby, Griffin, in seventh grade. I had a huge crush on him. I was the new girl that didn’t fit in, and he had no interest in me. Fast-forward to 2012. We went on our first date when I was a senior in college, and the rest was history. We have one child, Gavin Bernard, born on April 7, 2018.

Current fitness approach: I still workout five or six days a week. I am a member at my local YMCA. I enjoy their spin classes and HIIT Crush class, which has helped balance my fitness routine. I heard this quote once: “Kids are not excuses; they are sponges. Lead by example.” And I hope to live up to that for Gavin.

Off-duty fun: When I am not working I soak up all the time I can with my family and friends. We love spending time outdoors.

In college, I developed a passion for running. I try to get in on most of the 5k races in the area. I have run a handful of half-marathons, and in 2014, I ran my first and only full marathon, finishing in 4:25. Secretly, I would love to run another one before my 30th birthday next year. We’ll see.

Latest TV binge or favorite movie: I am a reality TV junky. I still love watching “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette.” Right now it’s baseball season. So the Chicago Cubs will always be on! While on the cardio machines at the gym, I’m watching Netflix: “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Riverdale,” “Ozark”… the list can go on and on.

Cardio music of choice: ’90s country music!

Favorite fitness celebrity: All of my clients used to refer to me a Jillian Michaels — but a much nicer version, of course!

What you love about where you live: I am only 45 minutes from downtown Chicago and 45 minutes from Lake Michigan. So I can change my scenery to pretty much anything really quickly.

Vacation dream spot: New Zealand and Ireland.

Enjoy the Inspiring Wisdom of the 103-Year-Old Belle of the National Senior Games

Enjoy the Inspiring Wisdom of the 103-Year-Old Belle of the National Senior Games

By now you might have heard about Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins, the 103-year-old superstar of the recent National Senior Games.

She won gold in the 100-meter dash and the 50-meter dash. She was essentially competing against herself, but that didn’t matter to her, observers, or national media.

In fact, Julia became the face of the National Senior Games on TV and in magazines and newspapers across the country. It’s easy to see why. Not only are her physical abilities inspiring, but she brings a gentle wisdom and determination to enjoy life at every stage. Here are a few highlights from Julia.

“As you get older, you need challenges. You need passions. I think you need to have a lot of passions because they keep you alive and they keep you alert.” – The Albuquerque Journal

“I hope I’m inspiring (others) to be healthy and to realize you can still be doing it at this kind of an age.” – KRQE-TV

“I just keep busy. I keep moving. I don’t do any exercises particularly. I used to, but I don’t think I need to anymore.” – Good Morning America

“You can still do things when you get older. Just keep moving and be interested in things.” The Today Show

She told the New York Times she enjoys books on tape, since she’s having trouble with her eyes. She stays busy gardening, and enjoys lunch out with friends almost every day. She added:

“Keep yourself in good shape if you can. Have many passions. And look for magic moments. That is something that I have done in my life — think of the things that are magic moments that happen to you, like sunsets and sunrises, rainbows, beautiful birds, music and people’s lovely comments to you. All of those are magic moments and they are free for all. Be sure to keep your eye open for them.”

Thank you for the reminder, Hurricane.

‘Defy the Cult of Youth,’ Says Author and Functional Aging Summit Keynote Speaker

‘Defy the Cult of Youth,’ Says Author and Functional Aging Summit Keynote Speaker

A powerful “machine” has brainwashed society about aging. Government, media, and the pharmaceutical industry feed us disinformation to keep us upset and to boost their profits.

Now it’s time to fight back.

That’s the message of Marc Middleton – author and keynote speaker at the  Functional Aging Summit — in his provocative new book, “Growing Bolder: Defy the Cult of Youth, Live with Passion and Purpose.” The former TV journalist says it’s up to each of us to seize control of our health.

‘Defy the Cult of Youth’ – and More

The book is a great read that will inspire you and your older clients to slay the stereotypes and harmful myths about aging that have taken root in your mind.

The best and most consistent predictor of how long and how well you will live is your belief system about getting older. As Marc says, “What the mind believes, the body manifests.”

Pick up a copy on Amazon for yourself and get a few to share with others around you. They will thank you for it.

If you’re coming to the Functional Aging Summit, bring the book with you and ask Marc to sign it.

We might even give away some copies there.

Five Top Tips

Here are some key takeaways from the book to help you fight the machine and defy the cult of youth.

  1. Lifestyle trumps genes. People who are “very old” (around 100) and happy are active, don’t overeat and don’t smoke. “Everything we do today will influence the quality of life that we’ll lead in the future,” Middleton writes.
  2. Exercise is paramount — “the closest thing to an actual fountain of youth,” he says, calling physical movement “a basic biological need.”
  3. Most Americans don’t exercise and are overweight. Less than 17 percent over 65 are active enough. This leads to obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other health dangers.
  4. Exercise is better than medication. Too many would rather take prescriptions than work out – mainly because the “machine” tells them to pop a pill instead of get off the couch.
  5. The machine lies. One of the worst: “We’ll inevitably lose flexibility, muscle mass, bone density, and cardiovascular fitness as we age. Actually, in many cases, we can get faster, stronger and more flexible as we age. The deciding factor is regular vigorous exercise.”


MarketWatch Article Features FAI Insight about Baby Boomer Fitness Trends

MarketWatch Article Features FAI Insight about Baby Boomer Fitness Trends

The Functional Aging Institute and president Dan Ritchie were featured at length in an informative, engaging feature article from about Baby Boomer fitness trends and the broader senior health market.

“These ‘super seniors’ are living longer, healthier lives,” read the headline. “Want to retire well? Your personal trainer may be as important as your financial adviser.”

It’s worth reading (and we’re not just saying that because we’re in it).

Baby Boomer Fitness Trends Keep Growing

The article refers to the “silver tsunami” and cites statistics about the 76 million Baby Boomers. It also points out that 25 million Americans are older than the oldest Boomer. We’re living longer, and more of us want the “health dividend” fitness brings.

The article quotes Dan about functional ability and why it’s important. “What if you want to get down on the floor to play with a grandchild? Kick a soccer ball in the backyard? Or carry in the groceries?”

It also features one of Dan’s clients at Miracles Fitness, his gym that focuses on Boomers and seniors.

“I do mountain climbers for cardio. Resistance bands, weight machines, and work on my balance,” says Joyce Field, who is 86.

‘Just to repeat, she’s 86’

She also does squats, burpees, and planks with a 45-pound plate on her back.

“Just to repeat, she’s 86,” the writer gushes.

Joyce started working out at 72, after a hip replacement. “I am not going to have another one,” she says.

Press like this is becoming more common. People are catching on about Baby Boomer fitness trends – about active adults and the value that healthy living brings them and their families.

We’re glad to be a resource for reporters who know a good story when they see one. You, too, can be helpful to media in your area, and maybe get some free publicity.

Take the time to learn which reporters and editors at which newspapers, broadcast stations, and websites cover these kinds of issues. Reach out with an email or a phone call letting them know you’re there if they’d like to learn more. Or, better yet, tell them about a local event that involves your business and touches on these concerns.

Why Work with Older People? Here’s Why It’s So Important to Me

Why Work with Older People? Here’s Why It’s So Important to Me

By Cody Sipe

People sometimes ask why I decided to work with older people, and I’m always happy to tell them the story.

Way back when I was in middle school, our church youth group visited a nursing home to sing and cheer up the residents.

I hadn’t spent much time around older people, and I didn’t know what to expect.

This was an old-school nursing home. As soon as we walked in the door, that smell hit us. You know that smell. It was like antiseptic trying to cover up bodily fluids, but not working very well.

We saw wheelchairs lined up down the halls. People in them were wearing bibs and drooling. Many were muttering.


Work with Older People? No Way

I was shocked. I had not expected that.

After we performed, I was talking with a friend when I felt an iron grip on me from behind. I turned and saw an older woman laughing and mumbling and trying to get close to my face. I couldn’t hear her. I was scared. I didn’t know what to think.

When we left, I said to myself, If this is what getting older is all about, then I don’t want anything to do with it. And I certainly didn’t want to ever work with older people.

Years went by, and I entered the master’s program in clinical exercise science at Virginia Tech. We had a cardio rehab program on campus.

When I walked in the first day, I was surprised. There were more older people there. I don’t know why, but I hadn’t known that before, and I flashed back to that day long ago in the nursing home. I wondered if I had made a big mistake.


Seeing the Powerful Possibilities

But this turned out to be a completely different experience than I’d had as a child. These people were active and engaged in life. They were funny. They were knowledgeable and told great stories. They had a zest for life.

That ignited in me a desire to help more people have this kind of experience later in life than what I had seen years before. I saw possibilities of what old age could be like, and it changed my life. I now wanted to work with older people.

I like to tell these stories because they made such an impact on me. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience with older people in your life. Or maybe you know that you want to help older people live their best lives for as long as possible.

That’s why we created our Functional Aging Specialist training and certification. Click here to learn more about it.

Make the Most of a Professional Conference – Before, During and After

Make the Most of a Professional Conference – Before, During and After

By Jay Croft, Prime Fit Content

Professional conferences can be a lot of fun. They can also be a bit overwhelming, with so many people to meet, speakers to enjoy, sessions to attend, and more.

We want you to make the most of any gathering, like our Functional Aging Summit each year. So here’s a handy guide of good advice that applies to the FAS and any similar event you might attend.

Before It Starts

  • Make a Plan. Review the schedule, read the speakers’ bios, get familiar with the location and map in your guide.
  • Then Be Flexible. Think of your plan as a gentle guide, not a strict schedule. If you’re in a session and just not feeling it, it’s OK to get up and go to another one.
  • Pack a Day Bag. Bring a jacket or pullover in case the air conditioning is too high. Don’t forget phone chargers, business cards, gum or mints, and something to drink.

Super-Tip No. 1:

Never eat alone. Meals are the perfect time to get to know new people. So, ask if you can join folks for lunch, or say you’d love to hear more about their project over breakfast. If you came with someone from home, branch out and double your networking.

Conversation and Networking Tips

Talking with people is one of the primary purposes of a conference. Make new contacts, catch up with people you’ve met before, and ask questions of any speaker who gave you something to think consider.

Here are a few tips to help you over the hump.

  • Nametags: Need an icebreaker? You can get everything you need from the nametag. “You’re from Denver? That’s great. My sister just moved there.”
  • It’s not about you: People generally like talking about themselves, so start by giving them the chance. Don’t open with a long story about yourself.
  • Use open-ended questions: What brings you here? How did you like that last session? How’s your business going this year?
  • Business cards. Bring ’em. Give ’em. Ask for ’em.
  • Use social media and emails. It’s OK to send an online message first. Don’t ask to meet. Just say you’ll stop by and maybe ask a question. Then, don’t take it personally if you don’t get an email response. Speakers and presenters want to meet you. Seriously.

Super-Tip No. 2

Use #hashtags and @handles for your social media posts. Other attendees will see them and want to interact.

Be Careful with Your Phone

Yes, you need to take photos and videos, post social updates, and (only occasionally) check email from home.

But keep it to a minimum. Try to do that when you’re alone, or in short bursts.

Be present and open. You’re at a conference to meet people and learn. If someone wants to talk to you, but you’re always looking at your phone and thumb-typing away, you’re not sending the right signal.

Take Better Photos

Conference rooms often have garish carpeting and bad lighting, so be mindful of pitfalls that can reduce the impact of your photos.

  • Get up close to the person you’re photographing, even if the person is at a podium. You don’t want a bunch of photos of a hotel conference room and a little ant of a speaker waaaaay up there.
  • Get outside or at least close to natural light. But don’t put someone directly in front of a window and overshadow faces. Touch the screen where the faces appear to make sure the camera adjusts.
  • Remember the rule of thirds. Imagine a tic-tac-toe board on your screen. Try to position the main subject at one of the intersection points – a little off-center.
  • Before sharing, crop the photos and adjust the color and exposure as needed.

After It’s Over

The power of a conference hits when you get home. If you’ve played your cards right, you should have:

  • Photos, video, and other material for blogs, emails, and social media content.
  • Follow-up emails and social media connections to make.
  • Summaries or highlights to share with your team, clients and prospects. Don’t let the expertise stay in the conference venue.

An excellent conference can keep you going for months and months.

Jay Croft is a writer, editor and content director who owns Prime Fit Content to help fitness professionals engage more clients and prospects over 50.


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