Our pFIT Participant of the Month for January is Johanna. She attends pFIT in her retirement residence in Newmarket, ON and has been doing so since April 2013. We asked her a few questions about how pFIT has impacted her life.

POM_Jan13 Q: How long have you lived in this retirement residence?

Johanna: 15 months. I moved in after falling in my condo and breaking a hip. Unfortunately, when I fell I got stuck between the wall and the bed and was there for 8+ hours before my neighbour heard me tapping on the wall and sent help.

Q: Why did you join pFIT?

Johanna: I knew I needed to keep exercising after finishing rehab from my hip surgery. My goal was to get strong enough that I would be able to walk without a walker when I go outside of the residence.

Q: Have you achieved any of your goals?

Johanna: Yes, definitely. I only use my walker when I am inside the residence (more for safety in a crowded elevator). When I go out, I only have to use my cane now and notice I can walk longer distances. I also think my posture is better- people have even commented on it!

Q: What are your favourite things about pFIT?

Johanna: Well, first of all I feel stronger and my progress reports show that I am stronger. Sometimes I even forget that I have had hip surgery. But I also really like how social the class is- the instructors really care about us and we always have a great chat. pFIT doesn’t feel like “exercise”.

We thank Johanna for being this month’s featured participant!


Our pFIT Participant of the Month for December is Anna. She attends pFIT at the Aurora Seniors’ Centre and has been doing so since September 2013. We asked her a few questions about how pFIT has impacted her life.

AnnaQ: What is your age?

Anna: I will be 65 in a few months.

Q: What are your fitness goals in attending pFIT classes?

Anna: I currently use a walker to get around and I would like to not have to use it. In order for that to happen, I need to strengthen my legs. I would also like to improve my balance, and again, I first need to strengthen my legs.

Q: Do you have any examples you can share that demonstrate how your leg strength has already improved?

Anna: My aunt and uncle live in Montreal and I try to visit them at least every Fall. Since they live in a split house, there are several steps at the entrance to get to the main floor. When I visited in 2012, I was easily fatigued climbing the stairs and nearly fell backwards. Thank goodness my husband was behind me to support me. This year, when we visited in October, I did not get tired and felt as though I danced up the steps! I know it is because I have been attending the pFIT classes.

Q: What are your favourite things about pFIT?

Anna: I really love the social aspect. Everyone is so friendly and happy to be there. The instructors are welcoming and great at setting us up. The fact that I sit while I do the leg exercises is perfect for me because I also have back issues. I have never really been a gym or sports person, so this is a perfect option for me.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your fitness or pFIT?

Anna: People need to remember how important it is to keep your legs strong. You lose the ability to do a lot of everyday things if you don’t actively take care of your body.

A big thank you to Anna for chatting with us about pFIT and how it is helping her achieve greater health!


Resistance training is not just for Mr. Schwarzenegger; people of all ages and athletic abilities can benefit from incorporating resistance training into their lives – especially older adults. Resistance training is exercise performed at a controlled speed and creates muscular contraction which builds the strength, endurance, and size of skeletal muscles. We think Hippocrates described resistance training best: “that which is used develops, and that which is not used wastes away”.

As is used in the pFIT class, an effective resistance training program includes eight to twelve repetitions of an exercise at an intensity of 40% to 80% of maximum strength. A two to three minute period of rest between sets should be incorporated, performing a total of two to four sets. Seniors would benefit most from incorporating resistance training into their lives one to three days per week, always leaving at least one day between sessions for the body to recover.

The most obvious benefit of resistance training is stronger muscles and bones. After the age of 50, humans naturally begin to lose an average of 10% of muscle mass and strength per year if nothing is done to prevent this loss. Incorporating resistance training will stop and even reverse this loss, ultimately increasing flexibility and balance, which are very important in the daily activities of seniors. Regular resistance training may also help reduce the symptoms of existing health issues, including arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, back pain, depression and obesity.


Research conducted at the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility at Vancouver Coastal Health and the University of British Columbia showed that 12 months of once-weekly resistance training improved executive cognitive (mental) function in seniors. Executive cognitive functions are necessary for independent living. Cognitive improvements in seniors may also lead to economic benefits– seniors who participated in once-weekly resistance training had fewer falls, and fewer falls means less time in hospitals, less rehabilitation, less medication, and less time spent with doctors. This study also revealed that using a senior’s resistance training exercise program may be able to slow dementia by improving attention and memory.

Because pFIT classes are conducted in a group setting, the social aspect of this model is believed to improve psychological well-being in seniors. Our instructors track progress made by participants every six weeks; these recorded improvements can be motivational and provide a sense of achievement for seniors. Having a scheduled commitment, walking to the designated training room, taking part in resistance training exercise, and talking with the instructors and other participants can all contribute to a healthier lifestyle for seniors, both physically and mentally.

Click here to find a pFIT class in your area. Contact us if you want to recommend a place for a pFIT class to be started.

Fall-2012-Society-Scoop-NewsletterBack in June, the retirement community in Unionville submitted a grant application to the Ontario Trillium Foundation to fund the purchase of 8 p44 Steppers for use in what is now the pFIT program. It was a long shot…but late on Friday the CEO got a call from her local MPP that the grant application was SUCCESSFUL! We were all surprised and so happy that the government recognizes how innovative the p44 Stepper is and the importance of making strength training available to older adults through pFIT. This is great news for our company and a shot in the arm for the pFIT concept.

The article in the Unionville newsletter has also come out and can be viewed by clicking on the image:

Since the article was written, we have added more participants and are up to 21.



A few posts ago we talked about the wellness manager from a chain of upscale retirement communities coming to watch a pFIT class in Unionville. Well she liked what she saw and they want to do an 8 week trial at two different communities in the GTA. We met with her today and discussed all of the details, including the different types of residents at each community.

One group of residents do not like to do exercise on their feet, which is perfect for pFIT. The other group of residents are up for anything and really enjoy health education so we’ll be sure to explain all of the health benefits to them as the program progresses. The average age of the residents at this particular chain is 85 and climbing. Our goal is to demonstrate through these two trials that pFIT is not only popular amongst the participants, but that the participants remain mobile and independent for longer than the residents who do not participate in pFIT.

At Unionville, we had an article written about pFIT in the quarterly newsletter and hope it is ready by the next blog post.

The activity coordinator at the older adult community centre that wants to trial pFIT in January is so enthused about the possibilities of our program that she put us in touch with a program called Playball. Playball is similar to pFIT in that programs teaching up to 8 young children how to play different sports are run at a variety of sites (school gyms, community centres, soccer fields, etc.) for $10 / class. Playball is run through a franchise model worldwide with over 600 franchises. So we went to talk with one of the franchisees in this area about pFIT and the possibilities. It was a very enlightening meeting and we are now doing some more research into the possibility of creating a pFIT franchise.

Today in Unionville we had a visit from the wellness manager for an upscale chain of retirement communities in Canada. She came to watch the class for consideration of introducing pFIT into some of her retirement communities. All of the pFIT participants in the class she watched were at their most charming and Marian even showed off a little by walking out after class without using her cane! She seemed interested, so we’ll see what comes of it.

The other big news is that we have had to add a third class at Unionville because of the increase in participants. The benefits of pFIT are spreading throughout the residence and new participants seem to be joining weekly. We are happy to offer the benefits of pFIT to anyone who wants them.

The meeting with the older adult community centre coordinator went better than expected and they have signed up to offer pFIT in the January 2013 session! We went into the meeting expecting it to be a fact finding mission to determine if our pFIT model  COULD have a market and came out with a commitment to trial it. pFIT will run for 8 weeks at a cost of $89 for the participants. This is a good test because:

  1. This community centre is in a high-income area, and
  2. pFIT will be one of the most expensive programs

Will older adults who have to pay out of pocket for pFIT do so? Will they recognize the increased benefit over more general aerobic fitness classes? We will have to wait until December when the Winter program guide is released.

At Unionville, we have added 3 new participants since starting back in September.

pFIT_logoWe have resumed classes in Unionville and everyone is happy to be back. We also have a few more residents of the building who are interested in trying out the class. We are now calling our group strength training program “pFIT”. The key features of this program are:

  1. Social group atmosphere.
  2. Ability to run the class anywhere older adults are because of the portability of the p44 Stepper devices.
  3. Focus on strength training as opposed to aerobics or stretching.
  4. Fee-for-service model with no equipment purchase.

As we have chronicled here, this program really does improve leg strength and in turn confidence, mobility, independence, and quality of life. So we have decided to see if we can replicate the experience in Unionville at other retirement communities and places where older adults frequent and are pitching pFIT to an older adult community centre in the area this week.

Today was the final class of this session.  We will be taking a 2 week break and resuming on September 4.

The important part of today was the re-assessment of 1 repetition maximum to measure strength improvement. A note: Norma and Eileen were missing from class today and although Reta did complete the 1RM, her p44 Stepper was malfunctioning and did not produce accurate data. The three of them will be re-assessed when classes resume in September.


  • Jean K- L: 72 (20% increase), R: 72 (29% increase)
  • Bea- L: 46 (15% increase), R: 56 (22% increase)
  • Marian: L: 34 (70% increase*), R: 40 (18% increase)
  • Jean F- L: 44 (10% increase), R: 50 (25% increase)

* Marian’s L increase is actually her first true 1RM


  • Nancy- L: 72 (13% increase), R: 72 (13% increase)
  • Betty- L: 54 (9% increase), R: 56 (21% increase)
  • Heather- L: 48 (20% increase), R: 52 (30% increase)
  • Marguerite: L: (28% increase), R: 62 (24% increase)
  • Ann*- L:42, R: 48

* Ann joined late and so this is her first 1RM value.

It must be stressed that these 1RM values are not scientific, but rather anecdotal. They were determined simply by increasing the resistance to a level at which that the participant had trouble completing a stroke. Nevertheless, it does show that the average strength improvement for both legs of the 8 people tested today is 19.7%. That represents a reversal of more than a decade of strength loss.

The first session of this program was an unmitigated success. Everyone had fun AND improved their strength.

We handed out certificates of completion and cupcakes to celebrate the end of this first session and look forward to coming back in September!