Fit and fabulous over 50

Anna Anton helps women achieve their fitness goals

Anna Anton, owner of Roswell Barbell.

When designing a plan for a new client, Anna Anton runs through this checklist:

Assess current status – age, weight, how long it’s been since the client was at their ideal weight and any known health problems.

Identify a reasonable goal – weight loss and/or strength gain? Focus efforts on getting leaner versus losing weight.

Take measurements instead of just weight alone. Initial changes will most likely be in inches, not pounds.

Design a strength-building and exercise program to meet the goals. Weight lifting can burn calories for 24-48 hours afterward.​ Not so for cardio. Step off that treadmill, and the calorie loss is done!

Discuss eating habits – What’s for breakfast? No more than four hours between meals to keep metabolism going. Protein to carb ratio? Good fats? Remember, fat doesn’t make you fat; carbs make you fat! What time is dinner? Calories after dark count “double!”

Remind them this is not a “quick fix” or a fad diet. It’s a lifestyle.

Avoid endless miles on the “dread-mill” or deprivation diets. The long-term goal should be to have your metabolism do the work for you.​ If you build enough muscle, it will! Lifting weights will always be a better bang for your buck than diet and cardio alone.

Lift heavy, lift often. Being strong is fun.

Strength coach and competitive powerlifter Anna Anton knows what perplexes many of her clients who come looking for ways to stay fit after 50.

“One of the first things I generally hear is ‘I’ve run all my life and now I have this tire around my middle. What happened?’” she says.

For others, it starts with a nudge from their doctor advising them to drop excess pounds, or to build up bone density by lifting weights.

The Milton mom of two college-aged sons knows full well the impact of the nature of gravity; she also knows you are never too old to get in optimal shape.

Ten years ago, Anton, 54, was involved in a horse-riding accident which led to extended physical therapy, including working out at the gym. There, she discovered the benefits of strength training, incorporating weights into her routine, the importance of bone density and the changes in metabolism as we age.

An athlete all her life, and a horse trainer for nearly two decades prior to her injury, Anton knew the same concepts she incorporated into her horse training would work in a new career.

“I realized that athletes are athletes…be they two legged or four legged!” says Anton, a native Atlantan who graduated from the University of Georgia.

She partnered with long-time coach and powerlifter, Callahan, and began the process of getting the necessary certifications to allow her to start training others.

Anton earned her Club Coaching certification with USA Powerlifting (USAPL), as well as her Level 1 Sport Performance certification with USA Weightlifting (USAW).

She is both a state and nationally ranked competitive powerlifter in the USAPL Open and Masters 57 kg division.

After years of taking her weight training routines to private facilities and boot camps, Anton and Callahan opened their own gym, Roswell Barbell in Roswell (www.roswellbarbell.com), this past May to bring their strength training and power lifting strategies to a wider client base.

Anton laughs that a main motivator to opening her own gym was really to bring her boot camp classes inside and out of the cold.

“We started Roswell Barbell because I was getting to the age when teaching boot camp in a church parking lot in the winter was [not appealing],” Anton laughs.

Many of her boot camp clients “migrated” with her to Roswell Barbell, and she eventually sold them on the benefits of weight lifting and strength training – a concept new to many of them.

Anton explains her training philosophy for women focuses on those interested in building lean muscle and boosting their metabolism – which slows dramatically as we age.

“I work with them to make the changes necessary for their bodies to work for them, instead of against them. I tell all of my new people the same two things – ‘We’re all busy...just show up! Make your training a priority, and you’ll see results,’” Anton says.

Her typical clients are women in their 50s and 60s, with about half former athletes who would like to return to a more active lifestyle. They work out with Anton two to three times a week, and generally start seeing results within three weeks.

“They probably won’t drop 20 pounds in three weeks, but they’ll start to notice they feel better, have more strength and energy. But the real physical changes come within six months to a year,” she says.

Every woman is different, so Anton says she works to find the right combination of training to achieve the desired results.

“My clients come in all shapes, sizes and ages [so] I customize training sessions according to their needs,” she says. “It’s not a quick fix. It has to be a process that you commit to for the long term.”

Anton has clients who are in their 70s who get stronger every day and are continually learning new techniques for improvement.

“This is a process for the rest of your life,” says Anton, who after 10 years continues to powerlift competitively with a team from Roswell Barbell. “I’m still getting stronger, and smarter, about training. I don’t see an end to this for me.” ■


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