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Legacy Strength Training Program Provides Hope and Strength

January 13, 2010

About seven years ago, Mary Rodriguez could hardly walk or get up out of a chair. After seeing several medical professionals, she met a savvy physical therapist who recognized that there was a problem with her neck and referred her to a head and neck surgeon.

"The surgeon determined that my problems were caused by growths around disks in my neck that were putting pressure on the spinal cord, causing the weakness in my arms and legs," she recalls. "The surgery was successful, but I still needed help regaining my strength. I was still weak and couldn’t do much exercise other than gentle yoga."

That’s when a friend suggested she try Superslow, a strength-training program offered by the late Gary Lindahl, a well-known local physical therapist. The successor to Lindahl’s private practice – renamed the Legacy Strength Training Program to honor his legacy after his untimely death in 2007 – is now part of the new Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center.

"When I first started the program, I looked at all the equipment and thought, ‘Oh, no!’ but Gary patiently taught me how to use the equipment and designed a program specifically for my needs," Rodriguez says. "Within a couple of weeks, I saw a dramatic difference. I could easily get out of a chair, walk up and down stairs and return to doing other exercises for cardiovascular workouts. I also saw similar results in other people in the program – including an 80-year-old man who had suffered a stroke. The program gave me hope when other exercise routines did not help rebuild my strength."

The reason the Legacy Strength Training Program helped Rodriguez regain her strength while other exercise protocols did not is because Legacy emphasizes slow-motion, high-intensity exercise using selective weight machines that can be precisely adjusted to fit each person’s needs and limitations.

"Our machines are designed specifically for slow-motion exercise that more effectively ‘loads’ the muscles to increase strength and endurance," explains Leon Jones, a personal trainer and coordinator for the Legacy Strength Training Program. "Because each machine can be modified to compensate for individual limitations, the exercise doesn’t hurt areas of the body that tend to get muscle strain from other types of exercise."

Most regular gyms still offer high-volume, low-intensity weight-resistance exercise protocols. That means lots of repetitions on equipment that offers little weight resistance. The low-volume, high-intensity protocol at Legacy provides greater results and safety for several reasons:

 

  • Control of resistance – The slow movement of weights eliminates unwanted momentum and allows for better control. Releasing or "slamming" of weights is not allowed, and the selected range of motion reduces potential joint issues.
  • Safety – In the Legacy workout, there is always a trainer providing one-on-one supervision, reviewing specific precautions prior to exercising. The trainer ensures the correct position and alignment of each machine and coaches each person in proper breathing techniques, neutral head and spine positioning, and avoiding body motions other than the targeted muscle groups being strengthened.
  • Close monitoring of weight and time dosage – Trainers use a stopwatch to precisely monitor the amount of time the client is under each weight load. Weights are recorded and adjusted by as little as eight ounces. Because of the nature of the training regimen, it takes only 1.5 to 2.5 minutes of exercise per machine to reach muscle fatigue.

    "The entire workout takes only about 30 minutes," Jones notes. "There is an approximate 20-second cycle of each repetition, lifting the weight in 10 seconds and lowering it in 10 seconds, coupled with a smooth turnaround technique at either end. The program is for anyone who needs to increase strength. It’s especially ideal for people who are recovering from injury, for the elderly and for athletes who want to increase their strength. The weight-resistance exercise also helps improve bone density scores for people with osteopenia and osteoporosis."

Fees for the Legacy Strength Training Program range from $40 to $45 per visit, depending on how many sessions the client requests. Multiple-session discounts also are available. The program currently is working to negotiate insurance coverage for sessions as physical therapy with a physician referral.

Now 74 years old, Rodriguez continues her workouts at Legacy Strength Training Program once a week to maintain her strength and conditioning, combining those workouts with other forms of exercise. "Before I entered the training program, I didn't have the strength or stamina to travel nor to enjoy common everyday activities at home," she says. "I could drive myself to do my shopping, but navigating the parking lots and walking around in the stores was difficult. I was in constant fear of stairs of any kind. Walking up stairs was physically challenging, and going down the stairs was just plain terrifying, especially if there were no handrails.  I feared the possibility of being confined to a wheel chair or walker or to the possibility of needing an assisted care living facility.

Rodriguez notes that it took only a few weeks of working out to realize the importance of consistently applying herself to this kind of strength training. "It was a plus that I was never sore after a workout," she says. "The results were – and continue to be – well worth the cost as well as the weekly efforts. How satisfying it is to again, independently, put my own suitcase in the overhead bin in the plane.

"The Legacy Strength program has literally given me back my personal freedom and the gift of restoring to me a high quality of daily life," she adds. "I'm very grateful to the late Gary Lindahl, who gave me the courage to try the program, and I'm thankful to have Leon Jones, my current personal trainer, who weekly continues to challenge and encourage me in my work in keeping my body strong and fit. Legacy Strength Training is now an integral part of my life. I love it!"

The Legacy Strength Training Program is located within the new, state-of-the Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center at 39141 Civic Center Drive, Suite 120, in Fremont. For more information, call (510) 794-9672 or visit us online at www.whhs.com/legacy.