Back in the saddle with less pain, more power

Jul 11, 2016
Ashley Ann Lawrie


When I sat down with Kevin K., he had just cycled in to Free Form Fitness’s Kanata location from Arnprior.

The week before, he had taken part in the Ottawa Bicycle Club’s annual Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour – 170 kilometres down to Kingston one day, and then back the next. This year’s installment featured rain and fierce headwinds.

Suffice to say, the 55-year-old mechanical designer gets plenty of exercise to counteract those long hours at a desk. But it came with a price.

All that time in the office chair and the bicycle saddle had left Kevin with shoulder and rotator cuff issues. He also had issues in his hips. He needed to condition his body to handle pedaling those thousands of kilometers a year.

“At this point in my life, I knew what was hurting, so I wanted to focus on those areas, lose weight and be overall healthier,” Kevin said. “I couldn’t have just walked into a gym and done this by myself.”

Last fall, Kevin found his way to FFF with a Google search and liked what he saw, with its focus on personalized and individual training programs. He trained for six months through the winter at FFF, twice a week with the team and also on his own. This was supplemented with indoor training at home and some cross-country skiing.

Like many cyclists, Kevin’s quads dominated, but everything else was weak.

Strength training at FFF, on the other hand, made a big difference, by targeting his entire body and focusing on his weak areas.

“I saw more improvement here in a month than I ever did from physio with respect to my shoulders,” he said.

Trainers Matt Uden and Mike Robichaud developed a program that strengthened Kevin’s upper body, core and all the other leg muscles besides his quads. They also addressed the mobility issues in his shoulders and hips.

Kevin felt the results during this year’s Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour, especially while climbing those hills in the wind.

“It’s been night and day,” he said. “Just being overall stronger and lighter has made a huge difference.”

The extra work in the gym, plus Mike’s nutrition counseling, also helped Kevin trim 15 pounds from his frame over the winter.

“I wouldn’t be anywhere without Mike’s help on that,” Kevin said. “You just have to stick with the plan. You’re going to have your days where you trip and fall, but you need to just stay the course until you see the weight coming off.”

Matt’s strength training and conditioning program over the six months complimented the change in eating habits.

“Matt has all the skillsets to help you achieve great success! He’s a great trainer, looking out for you at all times.”

Given his age and family history of heart disease, Kevin understands the need for healthy eating and exercise, and now has a greater appreciation for weight training throughout the year.

“I don’t want to get caught in a scenario where you are forced to  make drastic changes because your health is failing,” he said. “Heart disease and diabetes don’t take a vacation.”

Next up for Kevin’s summer cycling season is the Ottawa GranFondo, a 180-km haul that takes place July 23. Strength training at FFF is certain to make that event far easier and faster than it was last year.

“Everyone should be focused on strength and resistance training as you get older,” Kevin said. “It’s definitely a good thing as you get into your 50s.  Your core will be stronger, your balance will be better. When you balance strength training and cardio, your quality of life improves.”

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