South Charlotte

Trainer encourages weightlifting for women

Debi Shumaker is on a mission to educate and motivate women older than 40 to take care of their health through diet, exercising and weight training.

In October, she will offer a free class, "Lift for Life" for new members interested in learning more about how to weight train.

Shumaker, 52, is the mother of three grown children, and has recently become a grandmother. She lives in the subdivision of Pleasant Valley near Mint Hill, and is the owner of Trim Up Fitness Club for Women in Matthews.

Shumaker, who has been involved in fitness most of her life, started the club four years ago with the goal of providing a supportive environment where women could go exercise and socialize.

Shumaker, who holds an AFPA certification in nutrition and wellness, choose to focus on this demographic because she said she feels women in this age group require additional support.

Many of these women chose to start families later and are still caring for young children while taking care of aging parents. Some are helping with the care of grandchildren. Others may be empty nesters searching for a new identity or dealing with divorce or struggling with personal relationships.

"These women are giving everything to their families, but are neglecting their own health," said Shumaker. Studies suggest women who do not engage in strength training exercise are at a greater risk for osteoporosis, especially after age 35, when bone breakdown outpaces bone buildup, resulting in gradual loss of bone mass. This is of particular concern after menopause.

"Strength training is an absolute necessity for women in order to protect health," said Shumaker, "Many women feel that engaging in physical activity such as walking is enough, but without strength training they are jeopardizing their health."

She urges her clients to incorporate weightlifting into their daily exercise routine. She also offers personal training on Whole Body Vibration equipment. WBV is specialized equipment that has gained popularity on the west coast and has been used in Europe for decades. It provides an accelerated workout with less effort and with less stress on the joints, tendons and ligaments.