RN Speaks Out For Older Adult Activity

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Dottie Drake, founder of the Miracles Fitness health clubs and champion of older adult activity and fitness, turned her life around at the age of 47 through the discovery of the benefits of exercise and the determination to provide a non-intimidating gym environment to the deconditioned and physically challenged population.

A hospice nurse for 18 years, Dottie Drake (55), founder of Miracles Fitness, once taught people how to die gracefully. As a fitness professional and a regular keynote speaker for various events, she now teaches people to stop focusing on death and learn how to live well and feel well. According to Dottie, coming from both the health care and fitness industries, “It is not going to be the health care professionals in this nation that are going to change the health of this nation. It’s going to be a fitness professional.”

At 47 years old, Dottie was overweight, severely deconditioned, and had not exercised since college. A registered nurse at the time, she was on a surplus of medication for medical problems such as diabetes, hypertension, ulcers, reflux disease, and arthritis and had even faced a lumpectomy. Walking any distance at all was extremely painful, and the act of getting up off the floor required her to crawl to something to help her up.

Not once was she told by a health care professional that losing weight and exercising would improve her health. Thinking that exercise was an activity for the younger generation, Dottie never knew that lack of exercise was the cause of her body’s problems. When facing her divorce, however, one of her children begged her to start exercising, and she did. Her reaction? “I thought I was crazy that something so simple could make me feel so good.” Having discovered that exercise was indeed good for her, and that you are never too old to grow back bone and muscle, Dottie then found that her local fitness community was essentially barred to her due to her very heavy and deconditioned state.

In 1997, having trouble finding a personal trainer willing to work with her, Dottie realized that there weren’t really any health clubs designed for heavier, more deconditioned, or older people. “I knew if it was going happen,” she says, “I needed to do it.” The first step was to obtain a comprehensive certification that would teach her everything she needed to know in order to teach others to exercise safely. Dottie ultimately chose the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), doing the home-study program and attending a 2-day hands-on certification seminar with ISSA co-founder Dr. Fredrick Hatfield.

In 1998, Dottie opened her first health club, Fitness First For Women & Seniors, changing the name to Miracles Fitness when she began franchising in 2000. There are currently five existing facilities—one in Baton Rouge, and four in New Jersey—and one being opened soon in West Lafayette, Indiana by Cody Sipe, the Director of the Ismail Center for Health, Exercise, and Nutrition at Purdue University.

Miracles Fitness offers cardiovascular workout equipment (treadmills, NuStep recumbent steppers, recumbent bicycles, and elliptical cross trainers), regular strength training equipment that has concentric/eccentric motion as well as Keiser air compressed strength-training circuits, and a stretching program.

Although the founder’s expertise is 40+ fitness, Miracles Fitness caters to the deconditioned and physically challenged, regardless of age. In addition to older adults, Dottie has worked with 17 year olds who have had strokes, as well as 22 year olds with cancer. “You can teach everybody to be healthy. Everybody can be made better,” she says. “There isn’t a disease process out there that can’t be positively prevented, reversed, or at least controlled with a good strong exercise pattern.” Take, for example, the 95 year old woman who had been in a wheelchair for 5 years, came to Miracles Fitness, and progressed to the point where she could get up and walk. That same woman at 98 years old came to the gym on the back of a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Dottie advises personal trainers not to be satisfied attracting the 19% of people who are already healthy and exercising on a regular basis. “There are more than 80% of people like me out there whose inactivity makes them deconditioned and in very poor health,” she says. “The key to me for any personal trainer is to accept the person’s ability when they come in and make them better.”

About Miracles Fitness

If you would like more information on this gym or to learn about opening a Miracles Fitness franchise in your area, please visit: http://www.miraclesfitness.com

About ISSA

Since 1988 the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) has provided certification and continuing education to over 75,000 fitness professionals. ISSA certifications are recognized worldwide. From Sports Conditioning to Youth Fitness, ISSA offers 10 certification programs and dozens of continuing education courses. For more information on the ISSA, please visit: http://www.issaonline.com

To schedule an interview with a representative of ISSA, please contact:

Sabeen Sadiq

Director of Public Relations for the ISSA

Toll-free: 1-800-892-4772

International: (805) 745-8111

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Sabeen Sadiq
ISSA
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