Q & A with Center for Health & Fitness Member Gary Smallwood
Thursday, May 30, 2019

Judging from his toned arms, muscular build and athletic posture, you wouldn’t guess that Center for Health & Fitness (CHF) member Gary Smallwood is 70 years old, or that he’s on the verge of being at-risk for hypertension.Though he works out six days a week and is in incredible shape, Gary started to notice his blood pressure creeping up.

What’s your routine at CHF?

I’ve been doing Small Group Training with Jason Bautista since the program started five years ago. I also participate in a weight training class with Brian Fuentes two days a week. I really believe that CHF’s trainers are more advanced than at other gyms. In general, the classes are higher quality too. I do however spend some time working out on my own on the machines. I usually get to CHF by 5:30 or 5:45 a.m.

How are you managing your blood pressure and prehypertension?

My blood pressure was concerningly a little high, so I enrolled in the Diabetes and Hypertension Medical Exercise Training course at CHF. For exercising as much as I do, my blood pressure shouldn’t be going up, so I knew it had to do with my diet.  The series really helped me become more conscious of what I’m eating and as a result, my blood pressure has dropped.

That’s really the difference at CHF —it’s rounded in total body health. There’s a focus on nutrition and lots of activities available to members that go beyond just coming in to exercise.

How do you stay motivated to stay healthy at CHF?

Exercise has played a tremendous part in my life and I enjoy the quality of life I receive from staying active. Even though I’m monitoring my blood pressure, exercise has helped me to avoid other health problems. 

How have other members at CHF played a role in your health?

You have a good group of people here. I enjoy their company and we often go to breakfast and lunch outside of the gym, which has been a big part of my CHF membership. Sometimes, I talk a little too much…  I’m a social guy.

In addition, my Small Group Training class has been together for a while, and sometimes we get VERY competitive— you see someone else doing something and it fires you up!  We’ve become a family and there’s a lot of bonding that goes on.

What’s next for you in your fitness journey?

I’m currently training to attend the Spartan Race at Angels Stadium where we’ll be doing a 5K run with obstacles like climbing ropes and jumping walls. There’s a small group of us from CHF participating, but we’ll be competing in our own age categories. I’m in the 60 to 120 age category.

I’m looking forward to it.  I’ve done 5Ks, but I’ve never anything like this. 

What advice would you give to other CHF members?

As I’m aging, what I used to be able to do is a little more difficult. Now, it’s more of a mental thing. Don’t feel limited and work through exercises mentally. Especially toward the end when you’re wiped out.