PFTL News May 2021


What a beautiful spring this is so far.  Every blooming tree and bush are spectacular this year. Hope you have had a chance to get outside and walk through your neighborhoods.  Meanwhile, at the PFTL studio:

Masks and the Vaccine:  we are currently discussing a safe way to allow clients to train at the studio without wearing masks.  This would not happen until probably July when most everyone will have been vaccinated. We may be requesting proof of having been vaccinated before this will be allowed.  In the meantime, masks are still required for entry to the studio.

UNEXPECTED THINGS THAT HAPPEN WHEN YOU ABANDON YOUR WORKOUT ROUTINE (Excerpted from newsletter April 30, 2021 Author: Linda Melone)

It happens to the best of us: You get injured, find yourself working around the clock or are otherwise forced to put exercise on the back burner for a while.

But a day or two can easily stretch into weeks or even months, and you’re right back to square one. In technical terms, you’ve become “deconditioned.” How quickly your fitness level declines depends on several factors, and some of the things that occur when you stop exercising may surprise you.

1. Cardiovascular Fitness Starts to Decline After One Week – Aerobic fitness is defined as the ability of your body to transport and use oxygen from your blood in your muscles. The measurement of this, also known as VO2 max, decreases after just one week of inactivity.

2. Side Effects Are Less If You’re a Seasoned Exerciser – If you’re new to fitness and recently started working out (less than six months), you’ll lose fitness faster than someone who’s been exercising a year or longer.

3. Flexibility Loss Occurs Quickly – You lose the benefits of flexibility quickly if you take any substantial time off from stretching, says Michele Olson, PhD.  “After a bout of flexibility exercise, the muscles and tendons begin to retract to their typical resting length — particularly if you sit during your commute regularly and/or sit at a desk at your job.”

Olson notes that you’ll notice a loss of flexibility in as few as three days, with even more pronounced changes occurring at the two-week mark. “Stretching should be done at least three times a week — if not daily,” she says.

4. Strength Starts to Diminish After Two Weeks – When you quit strength training, changes in your muscles begin to occur within days, says Olson. “Muscle, when not receiving its regular challenge, will start to lose protein, which is absorbed into your circulation and excreted via urination. Small but meaningful loss in muscle protein (the building block of the contractile units for each muscle fiber) can begin to occur in 72 hours.”

Noticeable changes when attempting to lift your usual amount of weight show up in two to three weeks, says Olson. And as with cardiovascular fitness, long-term exercisers will see a slower muscle loss than those new to exercise, says Dr. Thomas.

5. You Lose Power Faster Than You Lose Strength – Power, defined as strength times distance over a period of time (e.g., how quickly you can hoist a weight or dash across the street to make the light), fades faster than strength, says Weis. “Strength losses first occur due to a change in the nerve’s impulses to muscle fibers, shortly followed by actual muscle wasting.”

During muscle wasting, protein breaks down at a faster rate and protein synthesis (building) drops. The time it takes for you to return to your original fitness level depends on the reason you stopped exercising in the first place — whether due to illness or simply lack of time.

6. Fitness Levels Decline Faster When You’re Sick – Someone who’s healthy and takes a break from exercise loses muscle mass and cardiovascular fitness more slowly than a person who stops exercising due to an illness or injury. The latter will lose fitness levels twice as fast, says Dr. Thomas.

The stress of an illness or injury takes a greater toll on the body than simply taking a break when you’re healthy. Whether you’re an athlete or recreational exerciser, if you’ve taken a few weeks off from your routine, your level of deconditioning will be pretty low, says Weis. “If you are recovering from a fracture, surgery or have been on bed rest, it can take up to and longer than 12 to 24 months to fully recover.”

7. Maintenance Is Easier Than You Think – If you’re planning to take time off from your workout routine, keep in mind that staying in shape isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. In fact, you can maintain your fitness levels in a surprisingly small amount of time, says Dr. Thomas.

“In order to maintain both aerobic and strength levels, you need just 20 minutes of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) twice a week.” However, Dr. Thomas adds the caveat that the work effort must be truly high-intensity — between 80 and 90 percent of your maximum heart rate.

8. Aging Affects Fitness Loss – You lose strength and overall fitness twice as quickly as you age, says Dr. Thomas. “It’s largely due to hormone levels. As we age, we have lower levels of human growth hormone (HGH), which makes it harder to recover.”

We also lose our ability to handle stress and recover from the resulting stress hormones, such as cortisol. As we get older, this same mechanism results in greater fatigue after a workout. Older athletes take longer to recover from workouts in general, according to several studies, including a February 2008 article published in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity.

9. It Takes Three Weeks to Gain Back One Week Off – After a period of lying around, your nervous system loses its ability to fire up as it did before you took time off, says Irv Rubenstein, PhD, exercise physiologist. That’s due to the fact that you lose the neural stimuli that enables you to lift heavy objects with the same amount of effort.

“When you return to lifting, you may be able to lift the same weights, but you will be working above your normal capacity, which could put tissue at risk. It will take a greater effort to do what you used to do and will require more rest between sets and days in order to recover. “


(Editor’s Note:  It’s not too late to get back into a fitness routine…let the trainers at PFTL help you.  We can train you virtually, outdoors, at the studio or at your home.)

PFTL NEWS March 2021



PFTL is pleased to offer a 60-minute webinar where you will hear from Mountaineer Martin Pazzani who discovered that walking up hills – hiking – might just be the Fountain of Youth and the pathway to a much longer, happier and healthier life.

Trainers Debora Morris and Susan Thomson will follow his presentation with tips on how to prepare for extended walks/hikes and how to overcome the most common reasons for not hiking.

There is no charge for this webinar. Registration is required.  Click to register below.


We are offering TWO FREE VIRTUAL SESSIONS FOR FORMER IN-HOME OR STUDIO CLIENTS. Contact Debora at (847) 722 -2115, if you are interested.


  • 2-hour Comprehensive Fitness Assessment at no cost ($80 value).
  • 20% discount on first two IN-HOME OR STUDIO  training sessions (Regular $90 studio, $100 in-home)


OUCH! WHAT CAUSES MUSCLES TO CRAMP (Excerpts from article by Rogelio Realzola, M.S. and Len Kravitz, Ph.D.)

Muscles cramps are abrupt, harsh, involuntary muscle contractions that can cause mild-to-severe agony and immobility (Minetto et al.,2013). Minetto and colleagues add that muscle cramps usually self-extinguish within seconds to minutes but may be accompanied with a knotting of the affected muscle. They occur in healthy people during exercise, sleep, pregnancy or after vigorous physical exertion. There is no gender difference with skeletal muscle cramps. However, they appear to occur more frequently with endurance athletes and in the elderly (Giuriato et al., 2018). According to Giuriato, the occurrence rate of muscle cramping is 50-60% in a healthy population. During endurance exercise, muscle cramps are correlated with long duration workouts, as well as harder workout intensities. While they are widely discussed by fitness pros, until recently, little has been known about the actual physiology of cramps.

Types of Muscle Cramps – Muscle cramps are multifactorial that Giuriato and colleagues (2018) have categorized into three groups: (1) nocturnal cramps, which occur during sleep without any clear causal mechanism; (2) pathological cramps, which are a consequence of having diabetes, nerve dysfunctions, or metabolic disorders in the body; (3) exercise-associated muscle cramps (EAMC), the muscle cramps that occur while exercising or post-exercise.

What are the Risk Factors Associated with Muscle Cramps? – With marathon runners, Schwellnus et al. (1997) summarize research that shows certain risk factors are more associated with the occurrence of a muscle cramp. These risks include a longer history of running (i.e., running years), older chronological age of the individual, higher body mass index, shorter daily stretching time, irregular stretching habits and a positive family history of cramping. With marathon runners, Schwellnus summarize that the two most important observations from the research are that EAMC are associated with longer running conditions (which lead to muscle fatigue), and poor stretching habits.

Early Theories of the Causes of EAMC – These include electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, and increase in body temperature due to hot, humid environments.  Studies have shown that there is no direct correlation between these causes and exercise-associated muscle cramps.

Current Theory on the Cause of Muscle Cramps – The newest concept of muscle cramps is a neuromuscular theory (Giuriato et al., 2018). Currently, this theory has evolved to have two different origins: a central (i.e., spinal column) and a peripheral (i.e., neuromuscular junction) origin.

Cautions to Protect Against Cramps from Occurring – It is clear that intense, extremely long duration workouts (for the level of fitness of the exerciser) leads to more skeletal muscle cramps. As well, lack of training and/or training in a hot, humid environment predisposes a person to muscle fatigue and possible muscle cramping. Research also shows there is a greater incidence of muscle cramps with the elderly, a phenomenon which needs more research, but important for fitness pros to be aware. Although the research shows that poor or inadequate stretching may predispose a person to muscle cramps, we do not have an evidence-based recommendation for what type of stretches and how much stretching should be done to reduce cramps.

Take Home Messages and Muscle Cramp Reflections – From a health perspective, the results of this new research show that we no longer have the evidence to state that a cramp is due to electrolyte imbalances or water depletion in muscle. Further, recommending particular supplements in the hopes that it impedes cramps also appears not to be rooted in any current literature. Performing too intense and/or long-duration workouts when not properly prepared to do is, should be avoided. Proper stretching exercises, particularly of the limbs is also essentiaL

PFTL News February 2021


The clients who  have returned to the studio have reported that they feel very safe in the space. We will continue to monitor all people who enter the studio, require masks and wipe down all surfaces constantly.

Several clients have opted for virtual training.  This can be done easily using Zoom or Facetime.  If you want to get back into a fitness routine, this is a good way to do this while in your own home. Let us know if you would like to train virtually (no mask required)..

We are offering TWO FREE VIRTUAL SESSIONS FOR FORMER IN-HOME OR STUDIO CLIENTS. Contact Debora at (847) 722 -2115, if you are interested.

We are aware that several clients would like to return, but do not feel comfortable wearing masks while exercising.  I hope we can relax this requirement sometime in the future, however, it is too early to do that yet. 


  1. 2-hour Comprehensive Fitness Assessment at no cost (an $80 value).
  2. 20% discount on first two IN-HOME OR STUDIO  training sessions (Regular $90 studio, $100 in-home)



TRAIN YOUR FEET  ( from IDEA Fitness Journal, January 2021)

Making your feet more functional can help the rest of your body.

Do you know how critical healthy feet are to a successful training program? Your feet and ankles make up your body’s foundation and act as “shock absorbers” when your body interacts with a surface (Price 2006). The feet transmit weight from our body to the ground, allow us to balance in static posture, and propel our body forward, back and laterally in dynamic activities (Lillis 2019).

To improve feet function and help prevent dysfunction in other body parts, perform these foot exercises from Eileen Byrnes, a Connecticut-based registered yoga instructor (RYT 200), fitness instructor, barefoot enthusiast, certified reflexologist and creator of Solely Wellness.

Why Exercise Your Feet?   While feet are our base for all movement, it isn’t common practice for many exercisers to consider foot function. Nick St. Louis, an Ottawa-based physiotherapist and founder of The Foot Collective, says this needs to change.

“A house will collapse if built on a weak foundation. Many of the problems you see upstream are very much related to the foot,” he says, adding that hip, knee and ankle discomfort or pain often starts in foot dysfunction. Being barefoot allows you to increase balance, engage muscles, improve mobility, transfer stability from one side to the other and offer efficient force transfer to the ground (Shaffer 2020).

Foot Exercises – You can perform foot exercises alone, as part of a warmup or in the stretch section of a workout. Inactive foot muscles may fatigue quickly, but daily exercise will build strength and endurance.

Toe spreading:

  • Stand on a stable surface.
  • Extend and simultaneously move your toes away from each other.
  • Create as much space be–tween the toes as possible.
  • Repeat several times, each foot.

Marble pickup:

  • Put a pile of marbles on the floor.
  • Pick up each marble with your toes, creating a second pile.
  • Repeat several times, each foot.

Toe yoga:

  • Extend the big toe while toes 2–5 stay on the floor.
  • Alternate, lifting and lowering toes 2–5 and then the big toe.
  • Do each foot separately and then both feet together.

Beginning and end: 

  • Extend all your toes.
  • Alternate pressing the big toe and fifth toe to the floor, keeping the ankle centered.
  • Extend all toes and simultaneously press the big toe and fifth toe to the floor, keeping the middle toes lifted.
  • Repeat, each foot.

Band work: 

  • Fasten a resistance band to a secure point, placing the other end of the band on the top or dorsal side of the foot, below your toes.
  • Dorsiflex the foot (raise it up toward the shin) and then relax.
  • Repeat several times, each foot.

Foot stretch: 

  • Kneel and tuck all toes under the buttocks.
  • Press the toe pads into the floor. Place a blanket or cushion under the knees if you feel discomfort.

PFTL News December 2020


Clients who have returned to the studio have reported that they feel very safe in the space. We will continue to monitor all people who enter the studio, require masks and wipe down all surfaces constantly.

Several clients have opted for virtual training.  This can be done easily using Zoom or Facetime.  If you want to get back into a fitness routine, this is a good way to do this while in your own home.

We are also developing a free stretching class that will be available through Zoom.  It will require registration, but no cost.  Look for more information soon. It will be appropriate for all fitness levels.

We are aware that several clients would like to return, but do not feel comfortable wearing masks while exercising.  I hope we can relax this requirement sometime in the future, however, it is too early to do that yet.  COVID is still very active in Cook County (and the US, as well), so it will be some time before we will change that precaution.

Why We Lose More Muscle As We Age- And What To Do About It  (Excerpted from Livestrong 9/2020)

It’s a common frustration that many older people face: I’m not as strong as I used to be. What gives? Well, it turns out there’s a name for it. This age-related loss of muscle mass and strength is called sarcopenia.

And, unfortunately, it happens to just about everyone. Generally, muscle loss begins around age 50, per the Cleveland Clinic, and about 50 percent of adults will experience it by their 80th birthday, according to an April 2012 article published in Family Practice.

5 Causes of Sarcopenia – First, some grim news: People lose as much as 5 percent of their muscle mass per decade after they hit age 30, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Here are five reasons why:

1. Inactivity – Yes, the old “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it” expression rings true.

Normally, exercise releases muscle growth factors, which stimulate muscle regeneration. But that process declines with age, according to the Family Practice article. Plus, older people are less active in general, sometimes as a result of having a disease that makes them tired and in pain.

2. Poor Nutrition – People tend to consume fewer calories as they get older. Between the ages of 40 and 70, calories are reduced by about 25 percent — and that means nutrient intake is on a downward slope as well, according to a February 2019 review published in Clinical Nutrition. That can lead to weight loss and muscle loss over time.

3. Decrease in Muscle Fibers – The Current Opinion in Rheumatology article notes that fast-twitch muscle fibers (which aid the body in power-based moves) decline with age, which contributes to muscle decline overall.

4. Changing Hormones – Testosterone, which plays an important role in determining the body’s muscle mass, also declines with age. This process starts around age 40 and decreases at a rate of about 1 percent per year, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

5. Increased Inflammation  – Inflammation comes with certain diseases and aging in general and makes it harder to remain active and increases the likelihood of disability. All of that gets in the way of muscle growth, according to the Current Opinion in Rheumatology article.

Why You Should Try to Maintain Your Muscle

Sarcopenia can be dangerous. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it can make you more frail and put you at increased risk of falling or other injuries.

An October 2012 study published in Clinical Nutrition found 27 percent of people over age 80 with sarcopenia reported falling during the study’s two-year follow-up, compared with less than 10 percent of 80-plus-year-olds without sarcopenia.

“Vitamin D is the most prominent nutrient deficiency for older adults, and depleted vitamin D levels are associated with decreased muscle strength.”

For older men specifically, sarcopenia is also linked to the development of diabetes, according to an April 2020 study in the Journal of the Endocrine Society. The researchers note that muscle plays an essential role in blood sugar regulation, although they weren’t able to conclude why women don’t seem to be affected the same way.

According to a June 2015 study published in The American Journal of Medicine, the amount of muscle an older person has can predict his or her risk of dying, with more muscle mass index being linked to lower mortality risk.

How to Prevent Sarcopenia

Even if you are well into your golden years, it’s not too late to build back some of that lost muscle. Here are four things you can do to thwart sarcopenia.

1. Stay Active – An inactive lifestyle speeds up the muscle-loss process, according to the Cleveland Clinic. One of your best defenses, then, is staying active.

Some good options include: Light hiking, Walking, Swimming laps, Body-weight movements

2. Prioritize Protein – Protein is the macronutrient that promotes growth and development. And older people usually don’t get enough of it.  Indeed, a March 2020 study published in Frontiers in Nutrition found older people consume about 83 grams of protein each day, which is significantly lower than younger people.

Even though the Recommended Daily Allowance is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of weight, the researchers suggest older people need more — somewhere between 1 and 1.5 grams per kilogram — to stay healthy.

3. Pay Attention to Vitamin D – Vitamin D is the most prominent nutrient deficiency for older adults, and depleted vitamin D levels are associated with decreased muscle strength.

4. Embrace Progressive Resistance Training – As in, don’t be afraid to make your workouts more difficult as you get stronger with more weight, more reps or more sets.

Any type of resistance training should help. A meta-analysis published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise reviewed 49 studies involving men ages 50 or older and found resistance training led to a 2.4-pound gain in lean body mass.

Be patient, however. It could take six to eight weeks to see results, per the Cleveland Clinic. Moody says it rests on your diligence, effort, focus and, most importantly, routine.

Your success will depend on your consistency, appropriate challenge and frequency.

PFTL News September 2020


Clients who have returned to the studio have reported that they feel very safe in the space. We will continue to monitor all people who enter the studio, require masks and wipe down all surfaces constantly.

As of August 28, the Chicago Tribune reported “Cook County is among the 30 counties the Illinois Department of Public Health sounded the alarm about Friday for a resurgence in coronavirus cases. hat’s the largest number of counties that had reached “warning level” since the agency began issuing those weekly reports earlier this summer, and the first time Cook County has been on it. The warning level applies to suburban Cook County and does not apply to the city of Chicago.

We are aware that several clients would like to return, but do not feel comfortable wearing masks while exercising.  I hope we can relax this requirement sometime in the future, however, it is too early to do that yet. 

WHAT WALKING REVEALS ABOUT YOU (from WebMD Good Health 8/20/20)

Walking is a complex process. It involves your body from head to toes, including several parts of your brain. Some strides do more than just get you from point A to point B. Your gait, posture, and pace may also be broadcasting clues about your health and personality.

Longer life: Studies on people over 65 show that a natural need for speed when walking tends to mean you’ll live longer. But it doesn’t work in reverse; you can’t expect to extend your years if you push yourself to move quickly. It’s likely a slow stride reflects underlying issues that may be taking a toll on your overall health.

Anxiety: When you’re tense and worried, you’re less likely to be right — when you walk, that is. Researchers tracking peoples’ movements as they walked blindfolded found that the more stressed someone felt, the farther left they strayed when aiming for a target straight ahead. This may be because the right side of your brain is working harder to handle your doubts and dread.

Mechanical trouble: It’s normal for a young kid to walk on their toes as they learn to be upright in the world. But if that doesn’t stop as they get older, it can mean their Achilles tendon is too short to let their heel touch the ground comfortably. Or it could be a sign of muscle issues like cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. Toe-walking is also common in kids with autism.

Osteoarthritis: An unexpected or unnoticed injury could cause a limp, but it could also be a sign of something more. If you’re favoring one leg over the other, or if your legs seem to be buckling from time to time when you walk, you may be showing symptoms of the type of arthritis that wears away your joints over time.

Alcohol abuse: The line-walking test that police give possible drunk drivers on the side of the road can help you tell whether someone’s brain is able to keep them steady when they walk. Alcohol abuse can lead to things like muscle weakness and loss of your sense of orientation. This causes an uneven, stumbling walk, even if you’re not drunk. After you give up drinking, you’ll likely get better at moving around, though it may take a while.

Weak muscles: If it looks like you’re climbing invisible stairs, you may have foot drop. This typically causes your toes to drag as you walk, and you may step higher to make up for it. It’s more common for only one foot to be floppy, but sometimes it can affect both. It may mean you’ve injured a nerve in your leg, or it could be a sign of a nerve, muscle, brain, or spinal disorder like muscular dystrophy or multiple sclerosis.

Brain injury: Do you rock back and forth to keep it together as you walk? Assuming it’s not an alcohol problem, you may want to have a doctor take a look at your head. A knock to your noggin can cause mild brain damage that makes the world spin for a while. Athletes, take note — this is common among people who play contact sports.

Bad back: It might mean a thing if you ain’t got that swing! When you’ve pulled a muscle or have a herniated disc in your lower back, you’re likely to turn your chest and shoulders to match your hips as you stroll, to avoid twisting. Your arms will sway with your legs as you walk briskly, instead of the opposite hand and foot being ahead of you at the same time. Depression: This mental illness may feel like a heavy weight on your shoulders, and your walk can show it. It’s not unusual for depression to make you walk with slow, short steps. Luckily, it’s not permanent — you’ll get more pep in your step as your mood improves. Studies show you can even lift your spirits by walking briskly, as if you were happy. Your posture helps reroute your thoughts toward the positive.


The Rotary Club of Wilmette will be holding a Walk-a-thon, “Walk For COVID Relief” fundraising event starting October 1 – 10. This will be a personal event for anyone who wants to walk to raise money for COVID Relief.  Volunteers will pledge to walk 10 miles in 10 days (or any amount they can) and get their friends and neighbors to pledge $2-10/mile walked.  Tee shirts will be given to walkers and they hope to get some photos for their Facebook and Instagram postings.

 Participants can sign-up to walk on the Rotary website, just by clicking the blue and red button. Entrance fee is $25 for students, $50 for adults and $100 for families.

 COVID has been difficult for everyone, but especially those in need, the homeless, the disabled, the elderly, the economically disadvantaged.  Donate what you can and let your friends know they have a way to help the Wilmette Rotary Club to help others.

I would love your support!  Put on your walking shoes, OR pledge to support me in my walk. Contact me for pledges or more information about the Walk-a-thon.  Debora Morris 847 722 2115 or [email protected]