Client: Tom

Personal Trainer Ami McMullen

Location: Louisville, Kentucky

Beginning with boot camp. When Tom first arrived at Ami McMullen’s TRX® Boot Camp, McMullen admits she was concerned. The TRX master trainer and fitness educator thought the then 56-year-old was out of his league, considering that the class was mostly made up of people half his age.

“I was really worried he was getting in over his head, but I completely underestimated his ability and his attitude,” McMullen explains. “I remember welcoming him to the class and telling him to just do as much as he could and to take things at his own pace.”

Tom, a former baseball player and coach, didn’t share McMullen’s concerns. “I had no reservations about being older than the other people in the boot camp,” he recalls. “Initially it was hard to keep up with the others, but they really encouraged me, and Ami is on top of just about everything. I have not had any problems being around a younger crowd, and in some respects it’s more fun for me. I may look older, but I really do not feel old at all.”

Upping the ante. McMullen’s boot camp follows a 4-weeks-on, 1-week-off approach. However, Tom wasn’t interested in taking advantage of the break. “I remember that after about 6 months, Tom asked me if he could do a couple of personal training sessions during the off-week to keep up with everything,” McMullen says. “I didn’t think much about it then because I thought he just wanted something for that interim week. The next week, when we started the new boot camp, he asked me when our next personal training sessions were going to be.”

After the two began working together one-on-one, McMullen learned more about Tom’s fitness-related hopes and dreams. Tom told her that he had decided to attend her class after being inspired by a book, Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy—Until You’re 80 and Beyond, by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge (Workman 2007).

“That [book] motivated Tom to become more mobile and fit,” notes McMullen. “He was nearing 60 and thought there was no reason he couldn’t be just as fit as he once was as a baseball player and coach.” Tom explained that his primary goals were to run races faster, weigh 190 pounds and score higher on TRX boot camp tests (including suspended lunges, atomic push-ups and low rows).

Staying safe. Having witnessed his performance in class and learned more about him during personal training sessions, McMullen knew that Tom was highly motivated. She considered this both a positive and a negative. “Because Tom had been an athlete, he was not scared to push himself, but I have to make sure he doesn’t go too far.” To avoid injury, McMullen encouraged Tom to purchase a heart rate monitor and coached him on optimal training zones for his age group.

The hourlong TRX boot camp workouts tend to be pretty high intensity, so McMullen decided that the one-on-one sessions would be low-key and would concentrate on Tom’s mobility and running goals.

“I focus our personal training sessions on his hip mobility, on fixing some glute asymmetry and on speed work to improve his mile time. We work out for about 35 minutes and then spend the last 20–25 minutes working on flexibility and mobility with foam rollers, self myofascial release tools and body weight stretches.”

Making progress. After several years of working with McMullen, Tom has dropped more than 40 pounds and is on track to meet his goal of running a 10-minute mile. He has also gone from performing eight knee push-ups to completing 16 suspended TRX atomic push-ups.

“Tom was a little quiet when he first joined the boot camp, but now he interacts with almost everybody in the group. We give awards at the end of each camp, and he’s won Most Improved Performance, Bootcamper of the Month and Best Partner to Have. Everybody at boot camp loves Tom and—given that he’s about 30 years older than the others—is impressed with his performance.”

calling all trainers

Do you have a client who has overcome the odds to achieve new heights in health and fitness? Send your story to [email protected] and youand your client may be featured in an upcoming issue of IDEA Fitness Journal.

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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