No citizen has a right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training…what a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable. – Socrates

Throughout this month on the Tune Up Fitness blog we’ve been exploring topics around Peak Performance. We aim to help you get in the best shape of your life and reach your fitness goals. But we want so much more than that for you… we want you to get fit and stay fit well into your later years of life.

Peak performance should be more than a one-time-thing. You should be able to define and pursue peak performance for each stage of your life–to deepen your connection to your body and refine your body’s intelligence even more as time goes on.

Imagine what it would feel like to age with strength, poise and grace. Imagine being 80 years old and helping your younger relatives do projects around the house, instead of feeling like a burden to your loved ones. Imagine a future when you can feel better and better, instead of one where you feel like you’re in slow decline.

This is the future this post aims to help you design for yourself.

The 4 Elements of Sustainable Fitness: Mindset, Massage, Movement and Strength

To make a plan for the longevity of your health and fitness, we are looking at four different aspects of practice: Mindset, massage, movement and strength. Cleveland-based Tune Up Fitness instructor Sandy Gross is a specialist in sustainable fitness, and will lend insights and ideas.


When it comes to sustainable fitness, your mindset matters! How you think about your body, self-care and exercise choices will determine the actions you take, and your commitment level. Here Sandy Gross offers some healthy perspective.

What type of mindset supports sustainable fitness?

“Many people are stuck in old fitness habits that are body shape focused, and need updating. Others have a myopic focus around short-term performance in one specific sport. This can be short-sighted too. Sustainable fitness is the key to independent living well into old age, as pain-free as possible.

“Just like an athlete has a goal of doing their best in their sport, for sustainable fitness, we should set goals with the ‘sport’ of healthy longevity in mind. We all need to think of ourselves as ‘athletes’ and our ‘sport’ is arriving at the age of say, 95, with the ability to move and care for ourselves similar to how we do at our age now.

“So when considering your fitness choices, think: How is this serving me in the long-term? Will this activity (or my approach to it) burn me out in five years? How can I make my fitness choices more sustainable? In order to help maintain musculoskeletal health, should I just save my favorite sport for one or two times a week, with purposeful cross-training and recovery in between?

“In other words, pain-free and perhaps independent living at 95 is the ‘Super Bowl’. So, to get there, choosing the mindset of sustainable fitness means you reverse-engineer that goal to the age you are now. Then create an evolving plan for how to reach it.”


Take a few minutes before a workout to remind yourself why you want to do it. Move away from the superficial and imagine the the things you’d love to be able to do in your older years. Let this mindset motivate how you approach your self-care and athletic practices now.


Maintaining a healthy, supple soft-tissue system is imperative for your body to continually renew and regenerate itself. Furthermore self-massage can help fend off tension patterns that take a toll on musculoskeletal health and increase the risk of injury. A regular self-massage practice is a key piece of sustainable health. Following, Sandy Gross offers some insights on why and how.

Why is self-massage good for sustainable fitness and what specific practice do you recommend?

“Self-massage takes it deep. It helps work out the kinks that bigger stretches can’t touch. It generates shear between layers of skin and fascia, it awakens dormant and stiff body parts. It keeps your proprioceptors alert and on. It keeps you awake and vital feeling.

“Any and all self-massage tools have their place, but the Roll Model® therapy balls are my tools of choice largely because the method teaches you how to see your inner self through touch. It’s empowering.”


If you’re new to self-massage, try the original Yoga Tune Up therapy balls, pin a ball to the wall at a tender spot on your back, shoulders, or hips and start exploring! Once you’ve found a particularly tense spot, see if you can “work it out” by rocking, sliding, wiggling and leaning into the therapy ball. Empower yourself to manage your own aches and pains.


We at Tune Up Fitness aren’t just practitioners; we aim to be intrepid adventurers into the potential of our own bodies! We draw from all different styles and systems of movement to elicit new sensations and discover new possibilities within.

Here is some very practical advice from Sandy Gross on approaching movement with the attitude of sustainability.

Why should we move and what kind of movement is good for sustainable fitness?

“Our bodies are designed to move. Movement generates synovial fluids in joints, clears metabolic waste (lymph), creates slide & glide between tissues of your body and basically up-regulates the whole system by doing what it’s designed to do–which is move. In a nutshell, movement is imperative for sustainable health. 

“My journey as a fitness trainer and yoga teacher has led me to distill all movement down to human movement patterns. An initial appointment with me always starts with a Functional Movement Screen to evaluate literacy in these patterns. Think: what is a human designed to do? I work with clients who value this idea and see it as preventative healthcare. They learn these patterns: squatting, hinging, pushing, pulling, rotating and carrying things. They learn to consciously use their joints and spine in ways that honor their design. This will prevent wear and tear and maximize longevity.

It’s also important to have movement variety–to move outside your typical daily positions and favorite fitness activities for total body health.”


Mix it up! Yes, run, bike, walk–do the stuff you love. But also bring variety into your workouts: Try CrossFit, modern dance, Thai Chi, Capoeira, Jiu jitsu, gymnastics… get out and play in all different ways.


Finally we arrive at the topic of strength: To purposefully build your muscles, stabilize joints and fortify bones. Read on for Sandy Gross’s perspective on the final piece of your four-pronged sustainable fitness approach.

What kind of strength work is good for sustainable fitness  and what specific practice do you recommend?

“Strength to me is body confidence–a level of self knowledge that shows up in fluency of movement. It is the chariot that will carry you through the rest of your days. Make your strength training mirror your life and you will mirror back to the world what healthy aging looks like. 

“I prioritize the movement patterns I mentioned above in the weight room as well. A sample week looks like this: on Mondays, I do pulling movements, Tuesdays, I hip hinge, Wednesdays, I push, Thursdays, I rotate/de-rotate and Saturdays, I squat

“Investing in qualified coaches or trainers is like preventative health care. But the exercises they teach you will make more sense to you if you evaluate your movement first with a movement educator who understands human movement patterns. Get your movement literacy and hygiene on track firstOne great way for trainers to elevate their approach is by taking some of the educational trainings from Tune Up Fitness.

“Overall, don’t wait until you’re 95 to think about longevity and vitality. Make choices now with regard to sustainability. 60 is only the new 40 if this is the conversation you are having with yourself. A client of mine who is an orthopedic surgeon says if we as an industry can shift fitness from weight loss and body shape goals to sustainable fitness, we will have a revolution in health care in this country.”


Think of the daily activities you do: you pull, hinge, push, rotate, squat. You move in all different ranges of motion, with a variety of loads and repetitions! Mimic that variety in your strength training-practice. 


Post Author: Ariel Kiley


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