Improving the quality of life one step at a time, functional aging specialist and personal trainer Heidi Weinberg is training clients to stay independent as they age. Working primarily with those experiencing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and cognitive challenges, she develops fitness plans tailored to each of their goals to help offset habits and establish a lifestyle filled with energy, stamina and function. “They are kind of like snowflakes; they are all different,” she says about the varying factors that come with training this demographic of clients.
As a certified personal trainer and health coach, Minnetonka’s Weinberg knows the importance of building strength; however, the physical outcomes are not the only element that should be targeted. Receiving her brain health certification from the Functional Aging Institute, she is versed in providing a holistic approach to improving the mind, body and soul. “The most effective activity is one that engages both the body and the brain through complex movement patterns,” she says about her fitness approach.
Targeting potential symptoms that could lead to mild cognitive impairments, such as memory loss, language inadequacy or visual and spatial perception, Weinberg fuses a variety of physical cognitive activities (that focus on reaction times and comprehension) with general core and muscle strength to help implement familiar movement patterns in the body.
With research showing increased rates of cognitive decline amongst older populations, Weinberg says studies indicate that regular physical activity (and the correct intensity and type of activity) can be the key to delaying these symptoms and can work to improve the overall wellness of the body and brain. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, active movement can help regulate blood flow to increase nourishment, resulting in a decrease of issues related to diseases and additional factors like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.
Recognizing that many people don’t take control of their health until it is too late, Weinberg encourages individuals to be proactive in order to establish good habits for a healthier day-to-day lifestyle later on in life. “The older you get, the more consistent you need to be because the older you get, the faster you lose your gains,” she says. “It is better to go less hard and be consistent than to go hard and not be consistent.”
For Minnetonka resident and client Lynn Zamansky, it is this consistency that keeps her on her feet. As an individual experiencing very mild symptoms of Parkinson’s, Zamansky says Weinberg has helped re-establish strength and routine in her life. “I am getting stronger, and, with her, I can see me staying where I am or even making an improvement,” she says. Working weekly with Weinberg (with the exception of her frequent trips to the golf course in the summer), she has implemented a system both in the gym and at home that has helped to reinforce her core, improve a better sense of balance and regain her mobility.
“I love this population. I love seeing them gain their independence back and hit some of their goals,” Weinberg says. “I am inspired by them every day and how they show up every single day because they are determined to better themselves despite everything that is going on.”