A passion for exercise, health and well-being have been linked inextricably in my life ever since I can remember.
A New Yorker
I am a Brooklyn-born Baby Boomer. As a kid, I lived an average life, blessed with wonderful grandparents, good health, and friends. But when my parents divorced when I was 11, it left me feeling disconnected from friends whose home life seemed idyllic. The divorce changed me. I didn’t adapt well to the new normal – something, besides not having my father around, was missing. I went through a rough patch of insecurity. Although no one could tell, I had low self-esteem through my tween years and high school, which manifested in binge eating and yo-yo dieting. I was in search of more control and comfort.
It all changed when I went to college. The combination of university life, long walks around campus, building new friendships, and weekend dances helped foster a feeling of strength and self-esteem. Exercise, socialization and a newfound confidence erased most of the ugly feelings I felt inside. I began to trust my intuition and believe in the concept: that energy and vitality breeds more energy and, in turn, breeds happiness. I was genuinely happy.
After college, I moved to Manhattan where my first impulse was to remain active. I worked a few miles away from my home and would purposely walk there rather than take a bus or train. I also took up jogging in Central Park before work. Running was exhilarating. It became an extension of my physical abilities. I joined a running club and entered 10K races. I did well.
Los Angeles – My New Home
In 1980, I accepted a job in Los Angeles. It meant early hours and early afternoons which made it easy to join a gym and another running club. My goal was to get in shape for the Father’s Day run that summer. My coach, Paul, a youthful 60-plus-year-old, was my muse.
As the holidays approached, I accompanied a philanthropic organization that arranged visits to assisted living communities. Spending time with the residents reminded me of the bond I shared with my grandparents. Their wisdom and unconditional love had been a huge, steadying influence during my parents’ separation.
Soon after the holidays, I returned to volunteering at assisted living communities. I had felt a certain kinship and got inspiration from the people at the communities. Then, I created my own entertainment, producing weekly musical programs for the residents which included sing-a-longs, dance and other exercises. The most challenged residents pushed past their limitations, allowing the memories of music to transport them back in time from dreamy Bali Hai to the sizzle of New York. I did this for 21 years!
Working with Seniors Captured My Heart
A very rewarding career in marketing in the 80s and 90s took me from finance to home health care – full circle back to seniors. My entrepreneurial spirit and passion for seniors lead me to take a leap of faith. I left home health to start one of the largest senior placement referral services in Southern California.
Enthusiasm and timing were key components of my move. While visiting assisted living communities in search of appropriate locations for my placement service, I saw many seniors sitting idle. I remembered from my volunteer days how music, movement and exercise changed seniors’ spirits. Since exercise and activity were vital to my continued energy reserves, I took the advice of a dear friend to become a fitness trainer, specializing in seniors – to keep them physically, mentally and socially engaged.
Right Place – Right Time – Right Idea
I dove headfirst into studying physiology and disease conditions such as arthritis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, stroke recovery, etc., associated to aging. I studied the effects of exercise on these chronic conditions and earned a certification as a personal trainer. To this day, I never miss a webinar, conference or an opportunity to learn more about the impact of fitness as we age.
Starting Lori Michiel Fitness
I developed individual and group programs for what would become Lori Michiel Fitness.
Early on, I trained clients in my home or theirs. I hadn’t considered small group classes until I was approached by an Executive Director at an assisted living community who sought my services. The goal was to create fun programs including balance to reduce falling, safe stretching exercises to improve flexibility–especially for those more sedentary, promote movement, longevity, relieve depression, pain and build strength.
Success came quickly. After my first year in business I received a call from a physician’s office whose patient lived 25 miles away. Since it was impractical to train them myself, I promised the doctor I would find the right person to help. It was apparent that it was time to build my own team: a team of passionate, smart and highly skilled professionals with the talent and right attitude to train older adults and seniors…just as I was doing. When I found the perfect trainer. I conducted the initial assessment, then coached the trainer. We arranged a schedule, and the trainer continued from there. I remained involved throughout the client’s life.
The Lori Method™ is Born
Trainers who wanted to expand their knowledge base and be more successful in their practice, sought me out. The word-of-mouth demand grew. It inspired me to create specialized courses in Parkinson’s, arthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and other senior conditions, so trainers could learn and apply new techniques to their business.
My intuition and natural matchmaking skills serve me well when I’m pairing trainers with clients who live anywhere from the San Fernando Valley to Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Orange Counties. I remain involved in every step of the process as coach and mentor.