Written by Alicia Maxey Greene
She can run five miles before she finishes 10 songs on her iPod. She can do 200 crunches without breaking sweat. She can twist her body into a pretzel without an ounce of pain.
Twenty-two year old cheerleader? No. Forty-nine-year-old mother of five.
To Karen Dennis, who is also a grandmother and wife of 24 years, age is just a number. As far as she’s concerned, she can do almost anything that a woman half her age can do — including dream. Her fitness dream started in grammar school as a dancer, and now she is a certified personal trainer in the New York City metropolitan area. She helps scores of clients achieve their personal fitness goals at her studio in Bergen County, NJ.
Her clientele is primarily African-American women executives, stay-at-home moms, entrepreneurs, doctors and attorneys, ranging in age from baby boomers to 70.
“I think women ages 40 and up should exercise or need to exercise just to have a better quality of life as we get older,” Dennis says. “What I mean by a better quality of life is not being aided or dependent upon any kind of device to walk with, or stand up or sit down, anything that you have to put in your mouth such as a pill that’s going to make you feel better or not feel better.
“You want to still have that zest and zeal, that get-up-and-go. It doesn’t have to stop because we get to be 40, 50, 60 and older, as a matter of fact it should get better just like wine it ages with time. Exercise is the greatest antidote for sustaining life and loving life and living life to its fullest. You want to still have that vitality in your body as you get older.”
Dennis puts that positive philosophy on paper in her new book, “I Am Fitness!” Published this past summer, “I Am Fitness! highlights her 21 years of training women, men, children, grandmas, grandpas, aunts and uncles.
“I just put it together in a book because everyone would ask me: what do I need to do to stay in shape?” Dennis says of her new guide book. “How do I get my arms this way? What do I do for my legs? How do I start my thighs from rubbing?”
The answers, Dennis stresses, have as much to do with what we eat as how much we exercise.
“I always say: nutrition 80 percent, movement 20 percent,” Dennis says. “So if you’re on point with your food, the fitness component will be even easier.”
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends regular physical activity because it helps improve your overall health and fitness, and reduces your risk for many chronic diseases. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says “Improving what you eat and being active will help to reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, and obesity.”
Dennis has a few other secrets for fitness success.
“”Let’s not forget rest, laughter and prayer,” she says.
For more information about Karen Dennis visit her website: www.karendennis.com.
Alicia Maxey Greene is a freelance writer in the New York City metropolitan area. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org