Exercise is for everyone - a spotlight on specialist exercise at Habit Health

21 Dec 2023

When we say exercise is for everyone, we really mean it.

Most people, either returning to exercise or wanting to kick things up a notch, might engage a personal trainer to help them do that. At Habit Health, we are fortunate to have some of the country’s best personal trainers working out of our gyms. But what if you have a special condition that needs a bit more care than usual? Perhaps you are recovering from surgery or a stroke, or maybe you are gaining strength back from another chronic condition.

Enter elite personal trainer Olaf Stenzel, Habit Health’s exercise physiologist. 

After gaining a Bachelor's in Health Science, majoring in Exercise Science from Massey University, Olaf worked as a research assistant and lab manager at the university on a study on type two diabetes, exercise, and protein ingestion. Following that, Olaf also worked in the university’s stroke clinic exercise programme. 

These experiences, along with his degree, gave him special insight, expertise, and a great desire to work with people with complex health - those in our community who may need more help and assistance with their mobility and strength. People with injuries, chronic conditions and those requiring ongoing medicinal treatment.

Along with healthy bodies, people with cystic fibrosis, aneurysm, chronic fatigue, or metabolic disease are some of the conditions Olaf has been able to assist with.

“Every single body is different, and it’s really about meeting the person where they are and then building an appropriate exercise program from there,” says Olaf.

“The most important thing in the case of special conditions is to help the body with mobility, and strength, and maintaining muscle mass as best we can, given the circumstances of the condition or illness.”

In most cases, people who are recovering from surgery might start to feel well and head straight to the gym to test what they are capable of. Olaf warns this is probably not the right approach and to start off much lighter and easier with a very slow progression. The goal with special cases of exercise programs is not to push yourself to see what you can do but to gently ease into exercise. 

“The focus for my clients, fresh out of surgery or treatment, is to practice and achieve consistency with exercise. This might look like 10, 15, or 20 minutes of movement with very little weight or resistance. It’s about practising to achieve good form for the exercise. We also want to manage each exercise move thoroughly, and my mindset must adapt to each individual a little bit. All clients require good preparation for training, but this is extra. I have to understand exactly what is happening physiologically in the body.” 

This advice also goes for Habit Health’s clients with healthy bodies and without any major health concerns. All our clients working with personal trainers receive the same preparation and planning for their exercise programmes. 

The difference is more so around results and gains. Slow progress can be frustrating for people wanting to get well quickly. 

Olaf reminds us that “the results might take a while to show, it might be one step forward, one step back or two steps forward, one step back, but suddenly, something happens that's really positive. We’ll see a progression, and no matter how small it might be, that change is actually a very good result.”

Book your session with Olaf here