Roz O’Riordan is a personal trainer who loves her job. She guides her clients in achieving and maintaining levels of “Functional Fitness” that will keeps them feeling young, healthy and vibrant. Roz works with clients who range from 15 years old to 90+, and who desire to be healthier and stronger. Still working as a registered nurse, Roz brings a comprehensive
understanding of the body that allows her to support all of her clients in being the best that they can be.
Roz, thanks for talking to us today. I love that you are so passionate about your job as a personal trainer. Will you tell us more about that?
I came to personal training almost by accident. I was planning on expanding my nursing career by going into integrated health studies. It’s the sort of thing that Andrew Weil, MD promotes. Physical fitness is just one of those aspects. Some great opportunities came my way involving physical fitness, and I jumped on them. I so loved the way my body woke up, and how my mind calmed. I focused exclusively on learning more about fitness. The nursing thing sort of fell to the background and now I have these fabulous clients who are such a pleasure to work with. I love seeing the progression, in my clients, from a bit wary/skeptical/cautiously hopeful, to full-on motivated/cheerful and eager to work. It’s great. I really enjoy promoting a client’s self-esteem, as well as their physical health.
You mean, you’re not the type of trainer that’s going to yell at her clients?
Hahaha, and, no. If you need someone to point their finger at you and yell, (and some really do want that!) then I’m not the trainer for you. My studio space is calm, quiet, private. My attention is on you and my goal is to have you feel good about yourself and the steady progress you make. Personal training often becomes very intimate in that there is honest communication. We talk about all sorts of things related to health. I know that it takes guts to start training. I honor that.
I respect that every client has different goals, capacities, and abilities. These goals may very well change during the course of training. For example, someone may come to me saying that they want to lose weight but that may soon expand to the goal of having a better golf game.
A healthy teenager’s goals are not going to be the same as an elder’s. They shouldn’t be. Training is tailored to the individual’s desires and abilities. No yelling.
Will you talk about the idea of Functional Fitness?
Functional Fitness is the notion that the entire body works together to do everyday activities as well as sports. This seems obvious until you note that a lot of the machines at the gym tend to be geared toward working just one, or a few, muscle groups. This certainly has its’ place and is great for beginning strengthening. However, it can lead to a limited kind of muscle hypertrophy/bodybuilding type of training when used exclusively. A more functional type of training uses the body alone, or props such as a wall, balls, bands and free weights. Real life activities, like getting through your day, or your sports, use all the muscles – big ones and little ones. My style of training addresses this. Functional fitness is about integrated body awareness and movement, as compared to just big biceps and a great six-pack.
What are some activities that a functionally fit 70 year old would feel confident doing?
A functionally fit person in their 70s is very busy. They get through a demanding day with pleasant exertion, doing everything community and family life require. They are on the roof cleaning gutters, rebuilding the shed, hiking for hours and dancing all evening. They feel really good and wake up every day ready to enjoy life.
I see the day, hopefully soon, when the AARP magazine poster-elder will be a cover story of the past. Because, it will be mainstream that people in their 70s, 80s and even 90s are active and fit.
How about a 50 year old?
A functionally fit 50 year old is comfortable maintaining all the activities/sports they have always enjoyed and is starting new ones. These folks are often mentors to much younger people in their fitness fields, as well as the community. Their enthusiasm and joy at exerting themselves is contagious. They have exuberance tempered with wisdom. The subtle restraint they demonstrate in their activities keeps them competitive with people much younger than themselves.
Staying fit as we age plays a big role in being able to maintain independence. Will you please talk about this a little?
I like to quote one of my mentors (Kit Crumb, CPT) on this topic. “If you get strong in your 40s, stay strong in your 50s and 60s, you will sail through your 70s and 80s”. I love this advice. The good news here is that even if you have waited awhile, it’s not too late. It’s amazing what progress can be made at any age.
Some years ago I was surprised at the ease involved in changing a ceiling light bulb. I just scampered up the ladder, did it all with one hand, didn’t even get dizzy and my arms were not tired. A small thing? No, a huge thing. My fitness level had improved. This is the kind of functional fitness that can make the difference in how successfully we age and how we can stay independent. Sitting around and resting a lot are some of the worst choices you can make if you want to age well.
A teenager can relax for days and then just jump up and mow the lawn with no problem. We’ve all seen it. For an older person this doesn’t work as well. And it doesn’t feel good. You get winded, sore, tired, and the activity is no fun.
Regular exercise can make a huge difference in how you experience aging. Stay strong and enjoy yourself. Be awake and so very alive in your fabulous body. Use that muscle.
What gets you excited about working with new clients and helping them reach their goals?
I am always so curious about my new clients. Who are they? What do they want? Each person is so different. Their needs, desires and drives are so different.
I enjoy the challenge of assessing them, putting together an exercise plan for them and watching how they respond, then tailoring it to suit them better. And tailoring it again, and again as they progress. I love observing how people respond. We humans seem to be hard wired to enjoy moving our bodies in ways that make us stronger. It makes us happy. It causes us to want to do even more. I love seeing this happen.
Who have some of your own positive mentors or role models been?
Regarding my role models I have to say that they are the people who have guided me to get to where I am now. My first weight training instructor (Strong Women, Strong Bones) Kelly Anderson, who is so skilled and was so welcoming, is just great. My first personal trainer, Bill Willard, is a lifelong martial artist and champion body builder. He was really patient and so steadily guided me to self- confidence and better fitness. He moved to Texas, darn it! My other trainer, Kit Crumb, with his Physical Therapy background and vast martial arts/personal training experience has helped me so much. I now share the studio space on Water Street with him. I also have to add all the fabulous instructors I’ve worked with in this valley. I love taking other instructor’s classes. There is so much skill here, so much to learn. It never ends. I am a different sort of trainer as compared to any of my mentors, but use the experience and training from them every day. I’ve been very lucky to have worked with them.
Best advice ever given or favorite all time quote?
I have no idea who said my favorite advice of all time. “Argue for your limitations, and they are yours.” Nothing more to be said on that!
You like to focus on core body strength development and maintenance. Will you speak a little bit about this?
Your arms and legs can be strong, but if your core is not strong then the power you have is diluted and not coming from a place of stability. A weak core can be what leads to injuries anywhere in the body. I ended 30+ years of my own chronic back pain with weight training and yoga-like stretching. I live with the benefits daily. I even regained an inch in height! There are many core work exercises. It’s a lot more interesting than just a million sit-ups. Core work can be (almost!) fun and done anywhere, even sitting in your chair. I promote a lot of this, and offer my clients many different ways to get it done. Sometimes it doesn’t even look like core work! When your core gets strong you are much more centered and grounded for all that you do. You move from a place of strength that supports your entire body.
Everyone has different physical fitness goals. How do you go about working to support your clients and meet them where they are at?
Oh yes, this is so true. One person’s fitness fantasy is another person’s immediate goal. Everyone is in a different place. They move, progress and respond differently. As it should be. There is no cookie cutter program that fits all. I assess my clients, listen to what they say, watch how they move and respond. My goal is to have my clients succeed. Each workout is tailored to them, today. I’m a note taker and always refer back to the previous training session with them, remembering how they did, and use that information to plan the next one. This way they progress steadily. I weed out what doesn’t work for them, and can easily keep things fresh by adding new moves.
Let’s talk about this culture wide trend of feeling that we need to slow down as we age. Will you talk about some of your own experience of aging and maintaining vibrancy?
I think this notion is an inheritance from previous generations. There can be some unspoken cultural permission to kick back and take it easy as we get older. “Older” may mean 40, or 90, depending on the person. Age, like beauty, is much in the mind of the beholder.
My own experience with fitness is one of transformation. I’m 60 now. I’ve weighed over 200# and less than 100# (yikes!) in my adult life. There have been times when I’ve been very deconditioned, stressed, exhausted, and ill a lot. Even when I looked lean I had very little muscle and even less flexibility. And, I always passed for a mainstream body type.
When my body started to respond to exercise there was this self-talk of “Wow, you mean there is something below my head and neck?” I had been very mind centered and my body was, well, remote to me. It was not much more than the vehicle that got me around. I came to love the (yes, slightly scary!) sensations of being a person living in a more awake body. I just kept on exploring.
I am fitter, stronger and feel better now, at 60, than ever in my life.
I recently broke a wrist and it forced me to slow down a lot, for a time. It made me find other ways to enjoy movement. I look forward to resuming the Japanese sword work , the fencing, and punching bag work when my wrists are strong again, but there is plenty else to do now!
Regular exercise can actually help to reduce unhealthy cravings. Can you speak about this?
Food and eating are big, complex issues. Just another of the reasons I work out like I do is because I love to eat, and robustly! I have found that when I eat a lot of vegetables, good quality meats, healthy fats, some fruit, very little sugar and even less processed food, I feel my best. The transitory pleasure I get from sugary or processed food is off set by the drag I feel later. I can now look at pastry and other foods that were once powerful magnets for me and walk on by without any sirens going off.
Being healthy with regular exercise makes you hungry for healthy foods.
Broccoli for breakfast, yes! May sound weird, give it a try!
Finally, will you please tell us about your ideal client and how our readers can learn more if they wanted to work with you?
My ideal client is the one who knows that they want an improved fitness level, is willing to have their life change some, and is prepared to show up. Really, that’s all it takes.
Roz O’Riordan, RN
38 Water Street, Ashland just off the plaza