Bill Gvoich focuses on function
Bill Gvoich doesn’t care how many crunches you can do. What he does care about is whether you can get out of bed unassisted, get out of a chair by yourself or get in and out of the bathtub without help.
Gvoich is the director of the medical wellness program Rxercise at Spectrum Fitness and Medical Wellness Centers. And what he cares about is “functional fitness,” or being able “to do the daily tasks of your life.”
Gvoich says “medical wellness” is a relatively new term in the healthy living lexicon, but it’s one that’s going to become more and more important as our population ages.
People who lose the ability to stand up on their own from a sitting or lying down position are prime candidates for nursing or assisted care facilities, he says.
“When you can’t do those simple things, that’s when you lose your independence,” says Gvoich, who has been learning and teaching about fitness for more than 35 years.
He defines “medical wellness” as the triumvirate of functional exercise, nutrition and stress management.
And Gvoich doesn’t want you – or him – to tackle those issues alone.
He likes to work with your physician, physical therapist, nutritionist or any other professionals to make sure you’re getting the help you need.
“I make and get referrals all the time,” he says.
For example, if someone is pre-diabetic and losing 15 pounds could prevent them from becoming a full-blown diabetic, Gvoich says he wants to work with your healthcare team to make that happen.
Gvoich knows lots of people – particularly those in the over 40 set – lead sedentary lives. So when a new client signs up, Gvoich gives them several simple tests to assess their fitness and designs an individualized plan.
“We start at your level of ability and go from there, increasing the difficulty as your improve,” he says.
If you can’t get out of a chair without assistance, Gvoich might raise the height of the seat to make it easier. Once you are able to stand without assistance, he might lower the seat to further strengthen your legs and core muscles.
At 63, Gvoich, who flexes a pretty a mean bicep and has no trouble dropping to the floor for a one-handed pushup or squatting with one leg extended, calls himself a “great example of functional fitness.” He says he can lift 500 pounds and runs or walks three miles about five times a week. He also does strength training, a vital component to keeping fit, twice a week for 45 minutes to an hour.
“Strength training is tremendously underutilized, especially by women,” says Gvoich. “Strength training builds muscles and the muscles are the shock absorbers to the joints. They keep the joints in place.”
He adds: “Muscle and tone are imperative for well being.”
Gvoich says he “eats very healthy 90 percent of the time,” and doesn’t indulge in soft drinks or beer.
And, he admits, staying in shape is hard and gets harder as you age.
“But look at it this way,” Gvoich says. “You can’t do anything about your age, but you can do a lot about the quality of your life.”