Stronger Than Yesterday with Activate Body

Image source: Photographer Ian Waldie

Activate Body’s SMART Functional Strength Program isn’t just about lifting weights – it’s an inclusive whole-body approach backed by world-class science that aims to help you feel vital, strong and happy in your body as you get older, discovers Rebecca Jamieson Dwyer.

As I prepare to turn 40 later this year, I’ve been meaning to research strength training. I know I need to be doing it at this age, but I’m hazy on the details of why.

Something to do with muscle mass?

Or bone density? Either way, when the opportunity to attend a SMART strength training class at Activate Body presents itself, I’m the first in the office to put my (embarrassingly spindly) arm up.

But strength-related exercises have never been my, ahem, strong suit, so on the morning of the actual class, I’m feeling rather apprehensive – at least until I start chatting to co-founders and husband-and-wife duo Tom and Viktoria Molloy, whose warm, kind and encouraging manner puts me completely at ease from the moment I step into their bright, modern Noosaville studio.

Physiotherapist and health coach Dr Viktoria and performance coach Tom created their SMART Functional Strength Program – named after Strength, Movement, All-body and Resistance Training – which combines resistance training with their unique band and weight system, balance training, core and pelvic stability, and breathwork, to promote healthy, pain-free lives.

“Every year after the age of 40, you’re losing muscle,” Tom clarifies for me before we begin the class. “So if you’re not doing some kind of strength training, this muscle wastage will cause you to become weak, and suddenly your muscles, joints and tendons will become frail, which will lead to injuries that start to impact your quality of life.

“We’ve created this holistic approach so that everyone can access effective, enjoyable training in a supportive environment. The results are amazing and will filter through to every area of your life – whether you love surfing, paddleboarding, team sports, or simply playing with your kids or grandkids!”

We start by warming up with some squats and lunges, moving our arms slowly to integrate the entire body, stretch the muscles and get the blood flowing. We breathe in time with our movements to establish a breath-body connection, in a way that feels similar to yoga and Pilates, before moving onto some balancing exercises with weights that look deceptively simple, but take every ounce of my concentration.

We then head across to the wall and start using the resistance bands, pulling them up and across the torso in a controlled movement to stretch the back and shoulder muscles, before squatting and pulling the handles towards us like we’re riding a motorbike, in a move Tom has christened ‘the Fonz’.

In contrast to the intimidating vibe of a gym where people train in isolation, Activate Body’s group approach facilitates a real sense of camaraderie.

My group chit-chats about life and shares stories of how long they’ve been taking part in the SMART program and how quickly they’ve seen results, while Tom guides us through the movements, offering praise, encouragement, and advice on form and technique to help us get the most out of the session.

“Everyone’s got a story, and everyone’s got something they’d like to work on or improve,” says Tom.

“Some of our clients might have significant injuries, but we’re able to work on that with them in this group setting, and their progress is often really inspiring to us all.”

And although the SMART program is run as a class, everyone gets personal attention and is working at their own pace with the right equipment for their level – including some teeny weeny weights for this particular beginner!

Tom shares that while doing strength training once a week is good, twice is ideal for building muscle mass and starting to see dramatic improvement in strength and ease of life.

“If you’re doing this type of exercise once a week, it’s more like conditioning, but do it twice a week – either with us or by yourself – and the results will be life-changing,” he says.

After a few years of not prioritising regular exercise, challenging my body in this way feels good. Actually, it feels more than good; it feels essential.

Signing up to regular Activate Body strength training classes and being supported through my health journey by this expert team?

It’s clearly the smart thing to do.

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