Weekly Feature



2017-06-21 / Lifestyles

Amherst fitness pro launches book to help older adults

by HOLLY N. LIPKA Reporter


“Keeping Your Parents Active and Independent” was written by Jill Bronsky, fitness instructor and personal trainer. The book gives examples of physical activity and words of encouragement to promote physical activity and exercise in older adults. It was released in May. “Keeping Your Parents Active and Independent” was written by Jill Bronsky, fitness instructor and personal trainer. The book gives examples of physical activity and words of encouragement to promote physical activity and exercise in older adults. It was released in May. Resistance bands, foam noodles and medicine balls are typically found in gyms and fitness centers, but they also can be found in Jill Bronsky’s exercise class for older adults in their 70s, 80s and incredibly, their 100s.

Older people think ‘Well, I’m older so I’m supposed to fall and get weak,’ but that is untrue,” said Bronsky. “There are things older adults can do to help prevent feeling weak.”

Bronsky, an Amherst resident, has a bachelor’s degree in recreation fitness from SUNY Brockport and a master’s degree in physical education from Canisius College. She has worked in the fitness field for more than 20 years in community centers, big-box gyms and with her first business, Kidsmotion.

She didn’t realize her passion for teaching exercise classes for older adults until she was a wellness director and worked with people in physical therapy.

“I started teaching an arthritis class for older adults, and that’s when I had what I call my ‘aha’ moment,” she said. “I saw how these older adults felt big changes in a short amount of time and how it made a huge difference in their lives.”

From there, she started her second business in 2000, Forward Fitness, which specializes in circuit training classes for older adults. She also became certified by the Functional Aging Institute.

“When older adults think of exercise, they think of Arnold Schwarzenegger. But exercise can take on a whole different form that can help daily activities like putting on your coat or reaching up to a shelf or being able to go shopping in a grocery store,” said Bronsky.

She teaches at Elderwood at Williamsville, Elderwood in Cheektowaga and at Williamsville Community Education. In the one-hour class, Bronsky focuses on challenging balance and leg strengthening.

“When you get older, your muscles become stiff and lose elasticity, so the warm-up and range of motion are much longer than a typical exercise class,” said Bronsky.

Some movements include standing and balancing on a foam mat, lifting knees up and down while sitting on a chair, toe and hand raises while standing behind a chair, and getting off a chair in various ways, like without arms.

“I work with a 102-year-old client who flew a plane in World War II, and he’s still pretty active,” she said. “You get to learn stories about what they achieved or did as a career, and you get to know these people, which is also great.”

Bronsky also began personal training five years ago for people who may not be able to attend her classes.

“A lot of people I go to have certain health issues like muscular disease, stroke or have bad knees. People like that probably wouldn’t go to a class or wouldn’t fully benefit. This way, I can focus on their specific needs and help them improve further,” she said.

From personal training, she was inspired to write her book, “Keeping Your Parents Active and Independent,” which launched in May, to share her tips for men and women with older parents.

“The kids of older parents are very quick to put their parents in a facility because they’re concerned, but I don’t think they have the knowledge or understanding that their parents need to exercise and not sit all of the time,” said Bronsky. “I wanted to show it’s never too late or you’re never too old to start exercising.”

In the book, Bronsky gives examples of physical activity like vacuuming, wiping dishes, sweeping the kitchen floor, taking a stroll to the mailbox or visiting a neighbor down the street. She also notes it’s important for kids and parents to go places together.

“It may be easier for the child to pick up their parents’ prescription from the pharmacy for them, but take them with you and get them moving,” said Bronsky. “Also, instead of dropping your parents off at the front door, park the car and have them walk with you.”

The book also gives examples of simple exercises that older adults can do from home.

“My book and classes are aimed to improve functional fitness, balance, mobility and independence,” said Bronsky. “That’s the big thing, being able to do functional fitness exercises that will make lives of older adults easier and help with their everyday activities.”

Bronsky also invented her own fitness in-home training kit, called the F.I.T. kit, which includes a ball or a band, six exercises for upper-body strength, six exercises for lower-body strength, one bonus card, two exercise card holders, an instruction sheet and a storage bag.

She also will be presenting these tools for older adults in various locations around WNY, where her book will be available for purchase.

Bronsky’s book also can be purchased on Amazon. For more information, visit the Forward Fitness website at www.forwardfitnessinc.com.

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