Older Adults Push Past Their “Prime” with Supervised Strength Classes

Clients at Applied Fitness Solutions get fit, find alternative to one-on-one trainer 

The Generation of Giving

Ask a baby boomer his or her personal values and there’s a good chance you’ll hear some combination of the following: hard work, perseverance, integrity, maybe honesty or loyalty. A response you’re not so likely to hear from this group though is “self care.” In fact, that phrase didn’t even enter the modern lexicon until very recently. The truth is, this set of steadfast 54-74 year olds have been so busy taking care of everyone else their entire lives, they’ve left little room for tending to their own well-being. However, as advancements in technology and medicine continue to produce longer life expectancy, many boomers (and beyond) are realizing they’ve got plenty of time left… and as we found, are doubling down to make that time as fulfilling as possible. For some, this means a new or renewed interest in personal fitness which is creating a unique opportunity for the many health and fitness establishments in the Southeast Michigan area.


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“They’re some of my favorite clients!” (speaking of 50 and over patrons) says Jared Freeman, an Oakland University grad and co-owner of Rochester Hills’ Applied Fitness Solutions (AFS) location. After opening in early 2017 Freeman noticed a correlation between his studio’s service model and the needs of this emerging population. “We care the most about being there for people who don’t identify as your typical gym person, so we’ve set up the experience to be comfortable and easy to follow even for novice exercisers.” In Applied’s popular “strength solution” class each attending client is assigned a personalized program and a certified trainer guides them through it while doing the same for 3-4 other individuals. It’s an approach Freeman says he wishes more gyms and studios would adopt. Barring any extreme medical or orthopedic barriers Jared’s small class size of 5 or less in strength solution provides a favorable blend of safety, guidance, and value. “By putting our folks in these small groups, I can check all the boxes. We design the program, we walk you through it, you get to meet other people and build relationships, and we don’t have to charge nearly as much per session as one-on-one trainers do. It’s a win-win-win.”

Jared Freeman (right) poses with AFS regular George Googasian after a morning strength workout. Googasian (82) strength trains year round and still works at his law firm in Bloomfield Hills.

Strength, Safety, and Support

The small group approach AFS fosters is creating enthusiasts from all walks of life who didn’t necessarily grow up with intrinsic health and fitness habits. Freeman says a large portion of his incoming clients (especially in the 50+ age range) are engaging in strength training for the very first time; a data point he’s particularly proud of. Missie Nordrum of Rochester started at Applied in 2017 as she was seeking to add a resistance training compliment to her pilates classes which she’s engaged in for the better part of a decade. Nordrum, a semi-retired life and business coach cited Applied’s community feel paired with structure and accountability as reasons she keeps coming back. “For a lot of women, especially as we get a little older, the idea of lifting weights (even though you read the studies about the benefits) is intimidating. The people and the programs here ensure you never feel that way,” she said. The appreciation for both a plan and accessible support strikes a similar tune for Cheryl Gambaro, who heard about Applied Fitness from Nordrum a few months after she started. “Missie told me it was her first positive gym experience, so I wanted to check it out. For me it works because it’s flexible, I feel encouraged and energized when I’m here, and I have support from a pro the whole workout.”

Missie Nordrum (far right) and Cheryl Gambaro(left) are longtime friends reaping the benefits of strength training under the direction of Trainer Jared Freeman and the Applied Fitness team.

In 2019 and beyond, more and more middle aged and senior exercisers will be entering gyms and fitness establishments for the very first time. Freeman’s advice for those beginners? “Find something that gets you up and moving, preferably something you enjoy and just start there. Let it become a habit, then build on it! Too many people hurt their bodies and their confidence doing too much too soon.” If your next visit to the gym can’t come soon enough, the Metro Detroit area is home to hundreds of highly rated options so you don’t have to look far to get moving.


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In addition to their strength training classes, AFS also offers a circuit style fitness class for adults, specialized young athlete training program,  yoga, and massage therapy on site. For more information on Applied Fitness Solutions, click here.