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Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018 12:01 am

Staying fit as you age

CrossFit Instinct Longevity class targets adults 55+

Seven septuagenarians and their septuagenarian coach, Mike Suhadolnik, from the Crossfit Instinct Longevity class.


“There’s no age limit to learning something new,” says Mike Suhadolnik, a coach at CrossFit Instinct, located in Fairhills Mall in Springfield.  Suhadolnik, who is 75, also believes “I can’t” is a mindset that can be changed.  Some may think of CrossFit as a high-intensity exercise program for athletic young people.  However, Springfield’s Crossfit Instinct has a unique Longevity class, designed for adults 55 and older.  Suhadolnik leads the class and trains others individually with the goal of helping people become more fit, active and healthy as they age.  

Mobility and balance are key aspects of the training.  Sarcopenia, which is the loss of skeletal-muscle tissue that frequently happens as people age, is a significant cause of functional decline and loss of independence in older adults. However, many individuals in the CrossFit Instinct Longevity class have significantly increased muscle mass while decreasing their levels of dangerous visceral fat, through a combination of changes related to nutrition, mobility exercises, high-intensity workouts and weightlifting.

Although exercise is fundamental to CrossFit, it is not possible to outwork a bad diet.  In lieu of going on a diet, individuals are encouraged to make permanent changes in their lifestyle and eating habits.  At the top of the list is avoiding processed food and sugar.  Other elements of the protocol include drinking lots of water, not eating for two hours before bedtime and eating meals during an eight-hour period without snacking, followed by fasting for 16 hours.  

Several doctors are regular participants in the Longevity class. Along with Suhadolnik, they provide additional insights to preventing and reversing chronic diseases through nutrition and exercise. Dr. Craig Backs, medical director of The Center for Prevention, helps people track their results through a simple body composition measurement of body-fat mass, lean-muscle mass and the level of visceral fat, which is the harmful fat surrounding the body’s organs.  Backs says, “If I could measure one thing and help people do what is necessary to improve it, visceral fat would be that one thing.  If it is high, you will suffer from a host of problems: heart attack, stroke, diabetes and prediabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, depression and other brain dysfunction.”

David Radwine, a local chef, has been in the Longevity class for three years. “CrossFit Longevity has kept me moving and allowed me to focus more on living a healthier lifestyle,” says Radwine. “The biggest change has been the lowering of the dangerous visceral fat from a 10 to a four, achieved by intermittent fasting.”

Richard McDaniel, a retired orthodontist, has been a member of the Longevity community for over four years. “After retiring in 1993, I became sedentary, and with poor eating habits promptly gained over 20 pounds of fat,” says McDaniel. “My participation with the Longevity program has greatly boosted my activity level as well as enhanced my flexibility, mobility and balance, while intermittent fasting has me back to pre-retirement weight levels and with measurable improvement in arterial health.”

Suhadolnik, Backs and Dr. Diane Hillard-Sembell are also helping people become more fit and lose weight, even if they never walk in the door of CrossFit.  A Fasters monthly meeting, held at 900 N. First St. (Springfield Clinic) on the last Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m., is free and open to the public. This is an opportunity to learn more about the protocol and hear testimonials from participants. Suhadolnik also writes a daily email, also free, which includes one-minute testimonial videos, and nearly 500 people are engaged in this way.

Suhadolnik explains, “Over the last 10 years, I have come to the realization that what I do is what I am meant to do: provide the stimulus for others to learn to care for their health through their change in behavior. Now at 75 years old, I am immovable.  The last 10 years of continuously working hard, seven days a week, has allowed me to grow and learn. Joined by other connected individuals willing to work to change their behavior and become healthy, we have grounds to take the position of having established a cure for diabetes, which led to a cure for chronic disease.”

For more information about CrossFit Instinct Longevity, contact Mike Suhadolnik at mikesuhadolnik@gmail.com, visit crossfitinstinct.com or stop into CrossFit Instinct, 1931 W. Monroe St. in Fairhills Mall. Short testimonial videos can be found at Wodfather 1 on Instagram and Mike Suhudolnik on Facebook.

Karen Ackerman Witter started freelance writing after retiring from a 35-year career in state government.  Her goal is to connect people, organizations and ideas to achieve greater results. She has been a member of the Crossfit Instinct Longevity class since 2016.


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