Olga’s Secrets

Olga’s Secrets

Back in 2010 when I was blogging as tuff old jock, I wrote about a remarkable 91 year-old athlete named Olga Kotelko, who holds numerous masters track and field records. This photo of Olga in action was taken by Patrik Giardino for the NY Times.


Now 94 and still competing, Olga is the subject of a book by Bruce Grierson, entitled What Makes Olga Run. The word “run” in the title doesn’t just refer to that particular form of exercise, but rather why is she living so long and able to function at such a high level. All kinds of scientists – neuroscientists, geneticists, psychologists, physiologists – speculate as to what her secrets are. In the book, Grierson reports on her genes, sleep patterns, eating habits, training routines, and other details of her personal life that account for her powerful life-force.

Enjoy this fascinating video interview with Olga. You might learn more longevity secrets directly from her than any PhD.

She doesn’t just walk her talk. She runs, throws, and jumps it.




Putting HPI into HIT

Putting HPI into HIT

Recently after a circuit workout designed to be challenging, a client in her 60s made a surprising observation that the class seemed pretty easy. She was a stark contrast to many who commented that the workout was vigorous and got their heart rates up, as intended.

So how do you account for the difference? Was the client who found it easy an Olympian? Not quite. Although she’s plenty fit, that day she didn’t put much High Personal Intensity (HPI) into an exercise circuit modeled on the principles of High Intensity Training (HIT). She did all the exercises with perfect form, but too slowly to challenge herself.

Exercise physiologists have several ways to objectively monitor how intensely a person is exercising. The most  common is by measuring the actual heart rate. But they’ve also discovered that what is called the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), as assessed by the person doing the exercise, is also a pretty accurate measure. It a simple 1-10 scales as shown below:

rpeAt Cascade Boomer Fitness, we believe all exercise is good for us, no matter where it falls on this scale. However, there are definite benefits to spending some of your weekly exercise time in that 7-9 range, which was what the circuit class was designed to do. We’ve discussed before why it’s important to spend time in this discomfort zone, that level where you are starting to feel the burn of lactate in your muscles and are getting out of breath.

More and more research shows that when you exert at this higher level, which will be only for short periods of time, our bodies release natural anabolic hormones, such as human growth hormones and testosterone (yes, women too) that have numerous health benefits, especially for older adults. For example, exercise done at higher intensity helps slow the loss of muscle mass that comes with aging and burns more fat than walking or running.

Exercise intensity does not come as much from the exercises themselves as it does from the intensity of the exerciser.

Something’s Happening Here

Something’s Happening Here

We invite you to check out the new stuff on our website about what’s happening at Cascade Boomer Fitness, including a new location at Smith Martial Arts and Fitness and new summer class schedule that starts May 5.

We’re offering The Younger Games twice a day on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. If you wonder what makes them so different from typical McGym group fitness class, watch the video. They are fun! The Younger Games will also be offered this summer at the Bend Senior Center (look for class #202703).


You can also shape up with our total body conditioning class called Challenge Circuit designed to burn fat and build muscle. “Challenge” is in the name because it is. Incorporating elements of high intensity training – modified to be appropriate for older adults – it works almost every muscle in your body while developing cardio and lung capacity and the ligaments and tendons around every joint. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and exhilaration after you complete these circuits, which change weekly to keep you challenged. Better yet, you’ll be more physically competent in your everyday life.


Please take a minute to subscribe to this blog so you know the latest about what’s happening at Cascade Boomer Fitness. Just type your email address into the box in the right column on this page.

Some of the time we’re promoting ourselves, but most of our blogs are about fitness and wellness topics for older adults that you’ll find helpful in your life.

Tune in. Turn on. Workout!



The Younger Games at CBF’s New Home

The Younger Games at CBF’s New Home

It’s amazing what a group of fit older adults is able to do. Check out this video. Every person here is in their 60s and 70s. Most have some physical limitations, but as you’ll see, they can do very challenging exercises, as good or better than many adults who are younger.

Fun, dynamic exercises like these that build coordination, agility, strength, balance, and power are  the heart of our approach to training 50 plus adults.

This video was made at Smith Martial Arts and Fitness in Bend, where Cascade Boomer Fitness is now located and will soon offer regularly schedule classes. It’s a spacious, clean facility with excellent functional fitness equipment for training variety and a padded floor for safety.

Our thanks to Kris, Dennis, Ed, Lynn, Brenda, Dave, Keith, and Bernadette. They are truly an A-Team. A is for ageless and awesome.





The Long Run

The Long Run

As often happens, local TV grabbed a complicated study and reduced it to a simple (and false!) sound bite - running may not be good for you because some marathoners have as much plaque in their arteries as people who sit all day. The unfortunate message that many people, especially non-runners, hear is that all running, not just marathons, is bad for you.

Don’t pay attention to TV – flesh-eating zombies aren’t real and neither is much of what TV reports about exercise. Here’s a nice recap of the study and intelligent critique written by Andy Burfoot in Runners World. If you’re interested, it has a link to the actual study. Draw your own conclusions rather than rely on a TV talking head.


Of course, lots of Boomers run. We’ve been running ever since cardiologist Dr. Kenneth Cooper popularized aerobics back in the 60s. Oregon has especially deep roots in running because Bill Bowerman, the fabled coach at U. of Oregon and Nike co-founder, wrote a little book on jogging that kicked off the running craze that has now endured for generations.

So is running okay? Is it a good way to exercise?

Absolutely.  Humans have been running for a long time. It’s a survival skill. It’s also one of the best forms of cardio conditioning known to man. Runners, on average, have better heart and lung capacity, bone density, and balance than non-runners. To run, you need strong lower leg muscles for foot flexion, a necessity to avoid disability as you age.

Obviously running will not be the best form of cardio exercise for every older adult, especially if you have arthritis in the knees or hips (by the way, studies show runners don’t have arthritis in those joints any more than the general population).

The most important thing to know is that you don’t have to run far or fast to gain all the health benefits of running. Check out this study reported in Health Day. Just running at a moderate pace 2-3 times a week for a weekly total of 1-2 hours is all you need.

Running is more than just good for you. As many of us know who’ve run for decades now, it’s one of the primal joys of life.