It started five years ago. A group of younger-thinking women wanted easy-access, low-cost, strength-training options. Many of them were already trying some of the strength-training ideas heralded in Miriam Nelson's books. Those are the books with titles like "Strong Women Stay Young" or "Strong Women and Men Beat Arthritis."
Dr. Nelson is on the faculty at Tuft's University. In the early 1990s, she and colleagues researched the benefits of strength training for post-menopausal women and developed a training regimen and a program to certify Strong Women volunteer leaders.
With a little assistance from me and even more from the Oregon State University Extension administration in Jackson and Josephine counties, these wanting-to-be-ever-stronger women built a program that now boasts 12 strongly-committed volunteer leaders who offer classes at eight different sites across the community.
We call them Strong Women (the classes, the leaders and the participants) and they are exactly that. Women (and a few amazing men), who have realized the benefits of strength training, and keep coming to the two-or-three-times-a-week, regularly-held sessions. Sure, some folks drop out occasionally or elect to try another approach, but loyalty to this particular idea, and to the instructors who provide it, is rather amazing. The classes are almost fully booked on a constant basis. In recent months we enhanced the program with the 'Better Bones and Balance' approaches developed by an Oregon State University exercise physiologist. It's a good thing.
So — are you with me so far? And maybe wondering where I'm going with all this? The classes are almost at capacity, but if you're an aging woman (or man) who wants to maintain and build your strength (as well as increase flexibility, improve endurance and focus on better balance), here's another idea.
I've arranged for medical exercise specialist Andy Baxter to give all of us his "Exercise: The Magic Pill" presentation at 2 p.m. on Thursday, May 21, at the OSU Extension auditorium (569 Hanley Road, please register at 776-7371).
Andy recently gave this presentation at the Oregon State University Gerontology Conference and it brought the house down. (That's a slight exaggeration, but you get my point).
There are many "good and strong," exercise-in-later-life training programs across the valley and Andy Baxter and Baxter Fitness is one option. But he has a slightly different twist on things that I want you to hear about. I want to hear more myself, and I'm inviting you along.
Many of the Strong Women leaders will be there — as well as some of the participants. You can schmooze with them — it might even make you a little stronger by just shaking a hand or two (that's another exaggeration — at least I think so).
On the 21st, Andy Baxter (who's a world-class athlete, by the way) will answer questions and demonstrate his senior-specific approaches to fitness. There's no cost. We will serve you lemon-strawberry water (good stuff — my own invention) and fill you up with information that may save your life.
That is definitely not an exaggeration.
Sharon Johnson is an associate professor in health and human sciences at Oregon State University and on the faculty of the OSU Extension. E-mail her at email@example.com or call 776-7371, Ext. 210.