It’s an unfortunate fact of life that as we get older certain aspects of our physical vibrancy, which had remained untroubled for many years, start to fail on us. Of course, we can temper these effects through exercise, and even enjoy many years of relatively good health, well into old age.
It’s a situation that Rindge resident Al L’Eplattenier, now 72, knows full well, having spent most of his adult life in the most arduous professions. He spent more than a decade working as a commercial diver, doing underwater inspections. He also worked on complex marine engineering projects and could do 75 pushups without a second thought.
Then, four years ago, he was involved in a serious car accident that would affect his health dramatically.
“I was driving along the righthand lane, doing the speed limit on Route 95 in Connecticut, when someone decided to put my lights out, hit me, slammed me over to the right and then across the road where I hit the median,” he explained. “This left me with two cracked vertebrae and required several weeks of physical and speech therapy.”
Just to add insult to injury, L’Eplattenier was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease two years ago, a degenerative disorder that leads to progressive loss of motor function.
Luckily, he managed to make contact with Peterborough-based health coach and fitness instructor Carol Leger earlier this year. She had recently started an adult fitness class called Move Free, designed to work on stability, mobility and movement in adults with limitations or those who are recovering from injury. L’Eplattenier signed up immediately and found it to be just what he was looking for.
“I think attitude is extremely important for people who are suffering from disabilities or injuries,” Leger said. “When Al first came to us, he was very trembly, and somewhat weak. Over a period of weeks and months, we managed to calm that down, and he got a lot stronger, and more functional.”
Leger is an ACE-certified health coach, certified fitness trainer and instructor with nearly 30 years of experience. She has a special interest in coaching adults as they age, especially those who struggle with health and physical limitations.
Leger’s mission is to increase patients’ compliance with their health care professional’s recommendations by educating them about the importance of physical activity. She works to support lifestyle changes and encourages her clients to practice self-care daily to improve their health and zest for life.
“Unlike so many exercise groups which are designed for younger people, this one is aimed at the older set – late 60s to early 70s,” L’Eplattenier said. “It also helps people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It deals with balance and movement, which are some of the things that fail on you as you get older.”
L’Eplattenier makes it a point to attend these classes twice a week, maintaining that the regular exercise keeps him strong both physically and mentally, and offsets the symptoms of the Parkinson’s. His goals are to get stronger every week, stay mobile and functional, slow the progression of the disease and maintain the best possible quality of life.
He says his favorite part of the program is boxing. He also likes to hike in the woods near his home and is taking piano lessons.
“At one point I was kind of shaky about my balance, but now it’s come back," he said. “I can actually do 30 pushups now."
In all, L’Eplattenier sees this program as a real life-saver, and one that will help him maintain a healthy lifestyle for years to come.
“I really love these classes,” he said. “This is the greatest thing since sliced bread.”
For more information about the programs Leger offers for active aging adults, visit getbusyliving8.com or call her at 978-660-8558.